It’s June. The odds that you are sweating while reading this are pretty good. What can you do to beat the heat? Sit under a tree and hope for a breeze? Maybe. Sit by a fan or in some air conditioning? Almost there. What’s the only surefire way to keep cool? READ! READ READ READ! You can stack the deck by reading under a tree, or by a fan/in air conditioning. In a scientific study conducted by, well, me, it’s been determined that a good book will help you stay cool. I would be delighted to pass on some great recommendations, over a series of posts, in order to help you take advantage of all that wonderful summer reading time.
Let’s start with a couple great ones that have been out for a bit:
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
A fantastic debut novel detailing the lives of several suburban youths over the course of a year. The less you know, the better. With a title like this, you may think there’s nothing else to know. You’re so wrong. The novel opens on a rich, wonderfully rendered, Detroit summer as its launch pad. From there, a polyphony of young, confused, excited, melancholic voices erupts from each page. A summer in which you can feel the strange, sweaty, world jump out from each page.
Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Major. You know it, even if you haven’t read it. Now’s the time. Summer is made for these long epics. You need to cool off, get lost somewhere else, and seriously consider a mint julep.
Summertime by J.M. Coetzee
A fantastically funny, suprisingly moving, sort of novel from the master of misanthropy. You see, Coetzee is writing about a young writer named Coetzee and how he became a writer, and it’s sort of him, but it’s sort of not. Either way, it’s definitely awesome.
The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis by Lydia Davis
A marvel. Lydia Davis is one of the most exciting short-story writers (and translators, try her Proust and Flaubert) out there. She does wild and exciting things with the form and manages to wring out humor, poignancy, desire and a host of other emotions out of her “micro-stories.” Some just a sentence, the longest mere pages, all worth reading.
Summer by Edith Wharton
As usual, Wharton packs a wallop. She called it her “hot Ethan”, offering a more temperate corollary to the much-discussed Ethan Frome. Set during the end of the summer and the beginning of fall, it’s best to read this one now. Love hurts, and it may take awhile to recover from it.
The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner
One of the greatest novels ever. You know this, I know this. Yet, there’s something incredible about reading it in the summer. You get it. It sinks in more. You have the time to read it slowly and carefully while treasuring every last word.
The Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald
A thing of wonder. The narrator goes on a walk, and encounters the world. Understated yes, but the sheer scope of Sebald’s novel can’t be condensed. Read it.
Ulysses by James Joyce
You up for a challenge? It could be fun and confusing but fun and it may just show you that the entire world can exist in Dublin. Plus, it’s 8 days until Bloomsday. Get cracking.
And here’s something to really look forward to:
The Storm At The Door by Stefan Merrill Block
This novel is a breathtaking story of family(in all its messiness), love(requited and otherwise), madness, literature, loss, and several other meaty themes. I’ll write more on it closer to its release date. In the meantime, keep those peepers peeled.