Every summer I have visions of simply collapsing into a lawn chair, lemonade in hand and reading, reading, reading from morning until night, stopping only to eat ice cream.
While the reality is far different, I start off the season with an ambitious list. I tend not to focus on “beach reads” but on books I’ve meant to read and anything that seems like it might be good to get lost in on a hot afternoon.
2014 Summer Reading List
Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov; I’m currently reading this and every time I turn a page I ask myself why I’ve never read this book before. Awesome Russian novel with a “supernatural” bent, especially great if you’re a fan of…
Haruki Murakami: Norwegian Wood, Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage (will be published in August)
The Goldfinch by Donna Taart; after experiencing bitter disappointment over The Little Friend, her 2002 novel, I’m going to give her another try after her Pultizer win!
Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel; I’ve read articles about Hilary Mantel that have been fascinating but never any Mantel books. If I love it, I’ll definitely read the sequel, Bring Up the Bodies.
Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie books. I read Atkinson’s Life After Life this winter and wish I could rediscover it this summer – it would make a great summer read to get engrossed in while sitting on the porch with no one bothering you. Luckily, Atkinson has written many other books, and her detective novels with Brodie are highly praised.
Slouching Towards Bethlehem – Joan Didion; I simply haven’t read enough Didion and that’s a hole that needs to be filled.
Couples – John Updike; in a recent New Yorker review of the new Updike biography, I learned that it wasn’t all WASPy angst in Updike’s world. Maybe I had him confused with Cheever? In any case, this novel about infidelity in the 1960s is supposed to be more frothy and soap opera than his other work.
The Feminine Mystique – Betty Friedan; not anyone’s idea of a beach read, but I’m curious after not having picked up this groundbreaking work since middle school when I discovered that feminism was a thing.
Memos: The Vogue Years – Diana Vreeland; a read through the entertaining memos Vreeland wrote while helming Vogue in the 60s. Frothy, fun, frenetic.
Super Sad True Love Story – Gary Shteyngart; been promising Keith I’d read this for years – it’s his favorite Shteyngart novel and, he promises, a winner on all front.
Side Orders (Sprinkle into main list generously)
Vampires in the Lemon Grove – Karen Russell
The Double – José Saramago
The Gift – Lewis Hyde
There’s a Road To Everywhere Except Where You Came From: A Memoir – Bryan Charles
The Vacationers – Emma Straub (the closest thing on my list to a beach read)
A Tale for the Time Being – Ruth Ozeki
Dangerous Rhythm: Why Movie Musicals Matter – Richard Barrios (this is also going to be my summer of musicals!)
I’m working on writing some fiction that involves the devil, which gives me a good excuse to read how other writers have imagined him and find out his history. Thus, Master and Margarita, as mentioned above, but also:
Rosemary’s Baby – Ira Levin
The Devil: A Very Short Introduction – Darren Oldridge
Mephistopheles: The Devil in the Modern World – Jeffrey Burton Russell