What We're Reading this Summer: Book Culture on Broadway
It's Memorial Day, which means we've finally reached the (unofficial) start of summer! Summer is vacations at the beach, strolls around the park, drinks on the patio, and, best of all, summer reading! Back in the day summer was the season to finally read whatever we wanted, without the constraints of school work; most of us are no longer operating according to a school calendar, but summer still feels like a special time to be reading. To celebrate the advent of this glorious time of year, we've decided to share what's on our summer reading lists.
1. Salt Houses by Hala Alyan: Salt Houses is a sweeping, multi-generational saga that's described as "lyrical and heartbreaking"...and that's all that you had to say to get me to pick it up. If the prose is half as gorgeous as the cover, then I'm in for a real treat.
2. How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake: What even is summer without a pile of new YA romances? This novel promises to be everything I love about the genre - teen angst, beautiful writing, complex characters, and just a bit of fluff. Also, queer girls on the beach? Yes, please!
3. Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel: The cliff-hanger at the end of Sleeping Giants left me desperate to get my hands on the sequel, and now that it's here, I could not be more excited. The only thing holding me back from reading it right now is that I want to sit down and devour it in a single sitting, like I did the first.
1. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood: I read a lot of end-of-the-world fiction, anyway, and this seems like an especially timely choice. I loved Oryx and Crake, and I think Atwood does brilliant things both with sci-fi as a genre and with her prose. I look forward to this.
2. Saga, Volume 7 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples: Like everyone else who's picked it up, I find I can't quit the Saga series. The characters are superbly nuanced, the story is engaging, and the art is beautiful. My only complaint is that there isn't more of it (yet).
3. Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut: Vonnegut is one of the only authors I can read any time in any mood. Bleak though his fiction often is, it usually lifts me up and leaves me feeling a little better about life. This is one of the increasingly few books of his that I haven't read yet. RIP, big guy.
1. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami: When I started reading Murakami, I was warned not to read this gargantuan for fear it may turn me off of Murakami's work. Well, now I've read everything and I love it all, so I'm ready. Besides, 1Q84 has turned from the work everyone warned me about to the book everyone tells me I'm missing out on. So something changed, right?
2. The Singer from Memphis by Gary Corby: I've been a fan of this series for a few years. They're murder mysteries set in ancient Athens, and the 6th book in the series takes us to Egypt. Come to think of it, if I could pick a job, Athenian Detective wouldn't be so terrible...
3. Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar: Going full out fiction with my picks this year. This book features a Czech astronaut who meets "a possibly imaginary giant alien spider". Kalfar is a recent graduate of NYU's MFA program in Fiction, where I've just finished my first year, so I'm excited to read work from an alum!
1. Blood in the Water by Heather Ann Thompson: I've been wanting to read this for months, especially in the wake of the prison strike this past September, on the 45th anniversary of the Attica uprising. I think it's so important to understand this major event in the history of struggles for prison abolition.
2. October by China Miéville: Speaking of anniversaries, 2017 marks the centenary of the Russian Revolution. In light of this, I'm excited to read Miéville's new book, October. I've been eyeing his science fiction books for a while now, but this will be my first introduction to his work. I'm looking forward to what I know will be a fresh and vivid account of this pivotal event.
3. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu: I've heard a lot of great things about this book, part of a science fiction trilogy that takes place during China's Cultural Revolution. I love the ability of science fiction authors to examine a historical moment and extrapolate into the future, and I'm interested in the fact that this book has been translated by another science fiction writer. I can't wait to read it.
1. Katherine by Anya Seton: This was given to me as a "moving-away-to-New-York" gift and I can't wait to dig into it. A historical fiction novel about the scandelous romance between Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, this book is filled with knights, serfs, and sex (and the Black Plague; what a combo!). Looking forward to this Chaucerian read.
2. American Gods by Neil Gaiman: A must read, for me, because I've yet to read Gaiman! In addition, one of my goals for 2017 is to read more genres (I usually fall back on poetry and fiction classics), so this Sci-Fi ready has me intrigued. Pumped to enter this mythological, Americana, fantasy world.
3. Swing Time by Zadie Smith: I saw Smith read the first chapter of this (her latest) novel a couple of months ago at NYU and was immediately sold. It's Smith's inaugural use of writing in the first person and many critics have regarded to it as her unofficial memoir. I will be reading this on the beach this summer.
1. I Love Dick by Chris Kraus: I've been wanting to read this feminist cult novel since I first heard intellectually attractive fellow lit majors talking about her in college. Now it's been made into an Amazon series that my parents are watching - very underground. I'm stoked to read the book so I can watch the show, which is set in Marfa, Texas, my favorite small town.
2. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Working in a bookstore, I'm often distracted by the new fiction table and it's easy to forget how much I love to sit on the beach reading a classic novel about wealthy socialites that takes place one hundred years ago, but I do love it, and I'm excited to do it again.
3. Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion: I always like to have a good collection of essays or short stories to read in the city where my life is so measured by the increments of time that it takes me to get from one place to another on the subway. I'm not going anywhere this summer, and I'm excited to sit on the L train heading into work, or the A out to the Rockaways, or maybe the 7 on my way to a Mets game, and enjoy the delightful and lazy experience of reading Joan Didion's work.
1. Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire: This is a companion novella to one of my favorite books, Every Heart A Doorway, which is about a murder mystery at a sanctuary for children who have visited other worlds. Down Among the Sticks and Bones comes out in June and tells the story of two of those children before the events of Every Heart A Doorway. I'm so excited.
2. The Unwritten by Mike Carey: This graphic novel series is a gritty and unique journey through almost all of literature and history. Espionage, secret societies, fan fiction of almost every genre, and a map of places where the characters can jump into different literary worlds (not to mention some incredible artwork)? Sign me up.
Recent blog posts
- Book Culture on Columbus shows off Debut Novels
- Book Culture on Broadway: Summer Reads Display
- Q&A with Kathleen A. Flynn, author of The Jane Austen Project
- Dog Days with Book Culture Selects
- Q&A with Donna Grant, Author of The Legend
- Queer Book Club reads YA!
- Q&A with "Priestdaddy" author, Patricia Lockwood
- New from Book Culture Selects!
- Q&A with David MacNeal
- What We're Reading this Summer: Book Culture on Broadway