Our Summer Reading Picks: Book Culture on Columbus

Summer's finally here and with it comes the greatest of warm-weather activities: summer reading! In case you need any ideas for what to read on the beach (or for sitting in front of the AC in your apartment, as the case may be), we here at Book Culture have decided to share our summer reading lists. Whether we're reading the hot new release, or returning to a classic we somehow missed in school, everyone here has a lot of books they're excited to read in the coming months. We hope this list provides you some inspiration for a great literary summer! 

See what else we're reading at Book Culture 112 and Book Culture on Broadway



Teo (Manager)

1. The Last Samurai by Helen Dewitt: I'm less than fifty pages into this puppy but can already tell that it's a book I'll become obnoxiously evangelistic about in the months to come. "Helen DeWitt," I'll say, "is a genius. A real one." It's obvious from the first few pages. Beautifully re-released by New Directions. 

2. Cathedral of Mist by Paul Willems: The only things I've heard about Cathedral of Mist are ringing comparisons to Calvino's Invisible Cities, or, the greatest bedtime book ever written. Mist seems darker, hazier, more trapped in the impossible architecture it builds in its pages. Looking forward to insomniac nights with this one. 

3. The Incantations of Daniel Johnston by Ricardo Cavolo & Scott McClanahan: A graphic biography of the spookiest songwriter of our time, illustrated by one of our most visionary artists. Yes! 


Rachel (Manager)

1. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley: Is it the best idea to read about a plane crash before a summer vacation? Probably not. But this thriller looks irresistible. Interwoven backstories, conspiracy theories,and a survivor who may be a villain -- make sure your seatbelt is securely fastened.

2. Modern Lovers by Emma Straub: I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover or its author, but in this case both are so charming I can't resist. 

3. Lost for Words by Edward St. Aubyn: I'm a sucker for Man Booker Prize winners and behind-the-scenes drama. This novel, a send-up of the Man Booker, promises both. What can be better than reading, sipping some (iced) tea, and cackling about misbehaving authors?


Cari (Manager)

1. How to Set a Fire and Why by Jesse Ball: Jesse Ball is playful and weird, and finally starting to get the recognition he deserves after last year's Cure For Suicide was short listed for the National Book Award. This one looks fun and playful, and should make for excellent summertime park reading.

2. The Complete Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn: I'm the first to admit that I'm a sucker for long stories that involve badly behaving aristocrats, so these novels have been on my list for a while. I hear that it's snarky, dramatic, and funny, which sounds like a great choice for my road trip later this summer.

3. The Monster's Daughter by Michelle Pretorious: Creepy historical fiction set in South Africa? A literary mystery that deals with concentration camps and the apartheid? Yes, please. This one sounds creepy and disturbing, so I'll be saving it for a spectacular summer thunderstorm.

Mallory (Bookseller)
1. My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix: In a similar vein as Hendrix's humorous and creeptastic novel Horrorstor, which took place at a knock-off IKEA, My Best Friend's Exorcism sounds like another funny, wacky, and creepy story about a demon who possesses one of two best friends.
2. Eligible by Curtis Sittenfield: I am a fan of all things Pride and Prejudice (especially the 2005 movie, especially), so this modern retelling about the Bennet sisters, Mr. Bingley, and the cold and proud Mr. Darcy is 99% probably going to be a hit with me.
3. East of West, Vol. 3: There is No Us by Jonathan Hickman, art by Nick Dragotta. If you're a fan of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples' Saga series like I am, you'll probably like East of West, a complex sci-fi story about the Apocalypse. It's bloody, it's violent, it's confusing, it's beautiful, it's epic -- I just finished Volume 2 and now I need Volume 3!
Laura (Bookseller)
1. Dispatches by Michael Herr: I'm obsessed with memoir right now but I realized that my collection was very lacking in books by male authors. I decided to read Dispatches because I wanted to learn about the Vietnam war and it's supposed to be the best book ever written about it. So that works.
2. Innocents and Others by Dana Spiotta: I've been slacking off in the fiction department lately so I needed a solid fiction summer pick. I read good reviews of this book, one of which was an interview with Mary Karr (my favorite) who called it "genius" and also confessed to having it on her nightstand right now.
3. The Red Parts by Maggie Nelson: I'm very into true crime shows, podcasts, and books so I needed a good true crime pick for the summer. The Red Parts seemed like the perfect choice because it also bleeds into the memoir genre, plus I've heard nothing but great things about Maggie Nelson so I'm excited to read some of her work.
Josh (Manager)
1. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh: I am really looking forward to FINALLY reading Brideshead Revisited. I have been meaning to read this book for years at this point and even have two different editions of it. This summer I am definitely going to force myself to do it!
2. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater: I have read the first two books of the Raven Cycle series and I am in love with it so far! I took a break and haven't fallen back into it yet but with The Raven King just coming out I am for sure finishing the series this summer!
3. Moby Dick by Herman Melville: Growing up and going through school I was never really forced to read many things we consider classic literature. Moby Dick was one of them. I just recently purchased the beautiful Penguin Classics paper back edition for the purpose of finally seeing the magic of Melville. I loved Bartleby and a lot of people say that Moby Dick is their favorite classic of all time!
Olivia (Bookseller)
1. The Hour of Land by Terry Tempest Williams: Every year when summer rolls around I get the itch to escape the city for a long, healthy dose of wilderness. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like it's in the cards for me this year. So instead I'm going to escape into Terry Tempest Williams' chronicle of the national parks, and what they mean for our changing world, in what I'm sure will be just as rewarding of an adventure. 
2. Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin: When I have a lot of time to read I love to have a good collection of short stories on hand to break up the succession of lengthier novels. There's something uniquely satisfying about a bite-sized story that still packs a truth-filled punch. This collection, unapologetically chronicling the grittiness of the everyday, promises to be full of just that.
3. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf: I've been meaning to read more of Virginia Woolf since I first read Mrs. Dalloway years ago. As they say, no time like the present, especially when the present is filled with long summer days, ripe for reading, and re-reading, Woolf's lyrical prose.


Adam (Bookseller)

1. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace: As this lengthy tome's 20th anniversary came and went earlier this year, it may finally be time to pluck it from it's long-held position on your bookshelf and crack that cover. David Foster Wallace's magnum opus will make you rethink the limits and capabilities of narrative, but more than anything, it will make you think. In celebration of it's 20th, I strongly recommend the new printing that includes both an attractive new cover and a rousing foreword by Tom Bissel.

2. Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow: Few things are more satisfying in life than hearing incredibly passionate people speak about what they love, and with Judd Apatow's collection of interviews of his idols and colleagues alike, you'll get that in spades. Recently published in paperback, these interviews with Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Louis CK, and many others will make for excellent light beach reading. 

3. Nightmares and Dreamscapes by Stephen King: It may be my fourth or fifth time through this collection of short stories, but in my opinion it is one of King's strongest. From heart-wrenching tragedies such as "The End of the Whole Mess" to good old-fashioned spooky stories like "Crouch End", this is the perfect collection to curl up with in front of the fire as the sun sets-- but make sure to bring your flashlight. 


Haley (Bookseller)

1. Blue Nights by Joan Didion: Don't ask me why, but the beginning of this summer has been all about devastating memoirs for me. There's something about sitting in the sun drinking a smoothie and reading something really sad and intricate that is just resonating with me right now. So I'm reading The Year of Magical Thinking now and next up is Blue Nights. Sad in the sun! Trust me, it's great.

2. This Savage Song by Victoria (V.E.) Schwab: I've read three V.E. Schwab books in the last five months and it has been such a joy. Her newest is apparently about a musician whose music happens to turn him into a monstrous demon. And he runs afoul of a girl who just got kicked out of private school. And there's no romance! Count me in! I mean, I was already in because it's V.E. Schwab. But count me even more in!

3. Lolly Willows by Sylvia Townsend Warner: Not too long ago, a lovely customer came in and asked us to order this book for her. I'd never heard of it, but in researching the title I became more and more intrigued. I love novels by women from around that time period (1920s) but I'd never heard of this author. As soon as I read that she was a contemporary of Djuna Barnes, I was sold! Hopefully the customer will come back and I can crash her book club when they talk about it!


Lucas (Bookseller)

1. Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby, Jr.: Knowing its reputation for being really life-crushing, it's possible I've been doing my mental state a nice favor by keeping this one on the back-burner for a while. It follows the tragic lives of society's misfits in a bleak but ballsy Brooklyn in the 1950s, long before its current era of coffee shops and overpriced vegan food. I think it's about time I expose myself to Selby's raw power! Looks like this summer I won't be missing that last exit. 

2. Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon: Pynchon’s work is totally bonkers! They’re as if Chuck Jones had animated that physics textbook you’d rather not open. Pynchon can be as cerebral as your stiff college professor but he is also not afraid to express his admiration for rock & roll and The Smurfs. In this book, he tackles some really heavy and contemporary topics: 9/11 and the recent rise of the internet. But add that with his trademark zaniness and you can’t go wrong. My brain is ready to be fried this summer.

3. Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America by John Waters: I don’t have any money to travel so this summer I’ll be going on vacation, vicariously, through the Pope of Trash. John Waters is not only a great filmmaker but an incredible personality with a sense of humor better than most seventy year olds. If I’m going to read about anybody’s cross-country hitchhiking trip, it has to be his!


John W. (Bookseller)

1. Grendel by John Gardner: A novel I'm mostly interested in due to the author and my cumulative fifteen minutes of research on wikipedia. Gardner seems to have been a weirdly intense dude with an interest in morality coupled with a dislike for those contemporaries who didn't share his interpretation of it. Grendel seems like a nice starting point to get some insight into whatever the "morality of fiction" is and why I should have deep and interesting thoughts about it. 

2. Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons: This one's been on my reading list since I was a kid. It's a horror/vampire novel with a reputation to uphold and as it's the summer, and soon to be tripocalypse, I could use a book capable of stoping bullets if it wanted to. Dan Simmons is my go to writer for genre stuff so I'm looking forward to getting further through his bibliography. Interesting note: I had to buy a new copy of this book as my old unread one had become riddled with some weird fungus. I considered reading it but then I thought about whether or not I would get some horrible disease from aforementioned mystery fungus. So I bought a new one and hid the other one someplace where it will most likely develop sentience.

3. Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion:  I've been meaning to read Didion for a while and the title is cool. Also I have apocalypse nostalgia from my time in L.A. Great town but confusing as to why it's hasn't been reclaimed by the pacific.