Our Summer Reading Picks: Book Culture on Broadway
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!
1. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami: I've only read short stories of Murakami's (from After the Quake), and that's a bit of an embarrassment, especially given the number of close friends I have that recommend his work so highly. I liked those stories quite a bit, so this, for me, will be a long-overdue return to his wonderfully bizarre surrealism. Also, I may be the only person alive who hasn't yet finished The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle; it's about time to rectify that.
2. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut: Breakfast of Champions was the first Vonnegut book I read - an actual decade ago now - and the beginning of my endless love for him. It's been long enough that I need to revisit this one with fresh (and/or ancient) eyes.
3. Saga, Volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples: Volume Six of this series is set for release on July 5th. I'll be done with it July 6th, and so will most of the staff here. I'm looking forward to it.
1. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi: This debut novel has been getting tons of attention, and I'm a sucker for intricate multi-generational sagas! Set in both Africa and America, Homegoing is supposed to be a novel that sucks you in and won't let you go.
2. Shiny Broken Pieces by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton: This is Charaipotra's and Clayton's follow-up to Tiny Pretty Things, which is a YA novel that follows teenage ballet dancers at their elite high school. If this is anything like the first, it will be good, twisty, drama-filled fun that also explores real issues.
3. Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam: Another debut novel, Rich and Pretty focuses on a single female friendship in NYC. I first heard about it on Book Riot a few months ago, and it's been on my list ever since. I love deep explorations of friendship, so this is right up my alley.
1. The Liars' Club by Mary Karr: Last winter I came across this interview with Mary Karr in the Paris Review. Ever since, I've been dying to read her work and haven't gotten around to it yet. I love a good memoirist and I've heard that she's one of the best. Plus, I'll read anything set in Texas even if it does tell a pretty bleak story of small town life in East Texas in the early 60s.
2. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote: One of my goals this year has been to read more nonfiction but as someone who primarily reads fiction, and short fiction as of late, I have a very low attention span for nonfiction that isn't literary. This book, published in 1966, established the genre that is literary nonfiction, also known as the nonfiction novel. And who doesn't want to read about a murderer on a hot summer day?
3. Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth: Animals seems like it's basically the novel version of one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies, Frances Ha. It chronicles the friendship between two women on the cusp of thirty, both figuring out how to grow up (one faster than the other) as their friendship is tested by looming adulthood and other attachments. In the words of Lena Dunham, "Three cheers for this take of alcoholic love between platonic soul mates." Looking forward to reading this one on the beach, with a mojito in hand.
1. From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell: A graphic novel about Jack the Ripper? By Alan Moore? Add that to a personal weakness for historical fiction and huge books...how could I possibly say no?
2. Uprooted by Naomi Novik: Many of my favorite authors have raved about this book - plus some of my friends. It has a lot of the tropes commonly found in fairy tales and magical fantasy, but the story is utterly unique. I'm halfway through it now and am having a very hard time putting it down.
3. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson: This book has been on my reading list for ages. It's short, it's dark, it's Gothic romantic literature at its finest, and Shirley Jackson is a phenomenal writer.
1. In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri: I really love reading Lahiri's novels and short stories, and am curious to read this memoir-of-sorts. Even though I don't speak Italian, the format of writing a dual-language memoir is super intriguing.
2. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente: This fairy-tale-turned-adventure-story has been on my list to read for awhile now. The fact that this is the first book in a series whose protagonist is a strong female character is definitely appealing; I'm expecting to really enjoy this first book and am expecting/hoping to get hooked on the entire series.
3. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: This is another book that I've been meaning to read; it's important to me to read as much as I can about the brutality and injustice, especially along lines of race and class, that exist within our criminal justice system. I'm especially curious to see how Stevenson applies a lens of redemption and hope to an otherwise broken system.
1. The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler: I have heard nothing but good things about this novel from multiple people! Now, I don't like TOO many spoilers when looking for things to read, so from what I gather it's a bit of mystery and a bit of magic, in the style of The Night Circus. (Which I couldn't get enough of!) And that was more than enough to sell me on it.
2. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: This book caught my eye last year with it's premise of a heist with various criminals coming together to pull it off in the magical world of Ravka. Sort of a Fantasy World Ocean's 11! What I didn't know was that Leigh Bardugo had an entire trilogy that already takes place in this world! So I earlier this year I devoured the Grisha Trilogy and am ready for a brand new tale from Ravka. From what I understand it's a stand alone novel, but if it's anything like her trilogy, I'm sure it won't disappoint!
3. Maestra by L.S. Hinton: This was a book I noticed while shelving in the mystery section the other day and I found the cover very striking. The jacket talks about a woman who has been betrayed and will go to any lengths to reclaim the life that was taken from her. I am a sucker for thriller style stories with kick-ass female characters like The Bride from Kill Bill or Catwoman, so this book sounded right up my alley.
1. Brisees: Broken Branches by Michael Leiris: This is a collection of essays that examines language as well as hinting at melopoeia, phanopoeia, and logopoeia. A must read for anyone interested in an interdisciplinary relationship between ethnography and poetry.
2. Serendipities: Language and Lunacy by Umberto Eco: Eco is one of the best writers of the twentieth century, whose writings range from fiction to comments on war and media, to the very horizon of language. With the tower of Babel on the cover, this book should be considered one of the building blocks of how we use language.
3. A Raw Youth by Fyodor Dostoyevsky: Commonly called a "bad novel", this text follows the course of an adolescent to show that it's simply living that is bad.
1. The Red Parts by Maggie Nelson: I've been meaning to return to Maggie Nelson's work since I fell in love with her unique form of prose in Bluets last year. Red Parts has been intriguing me, as it's a fascinating autobiographical account of her aunt's murder, the grief Nelson and her family experienced as the case went unsolved, and the trial that opened up years later when DNA evidence came to light. Part memoir, part essay, part trial log, Nelson combines genres together in a style all her own and I'm hooked!
2. Trouble Boys: The True Story of The Replacements by Bob Mehr: The Replacements were one of the most overlooked yet wildly influential bands of the 1980's. They could have been momentous in their time, but the self-destructive behavior they became known for worked too well, including famously being banned from SNL for showing up too drunk for their television debut. Singer Paul Westerberg ripped off the Beatles in naming their best album 'Let It Be' because "nothing is sacred." Trouble Boys promises to be the first truly thorough account of the band's dark history and struggle with themselves.
3. Love Goes to Buildings on Fire by Will Hermes: Hermes' book documents New York City's music scene from 1973 to 1977, one of the most influential periods in music. The book takes place all throughout the city, detailing the neighborhoods where hip-hop was born, jazz was re-imagined, and punk gave a generation life through a jolt of energy.
1. Burning Down George Orwell's House by Andrew Ervin: This book has key elements that grab my attention: self imposed exile to a Scottish island, copious amounts of Scotch, a hunt for a possibly non existent werewolf. Count me in.
2. Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco: With the recent death of Mr. Eco, I figured it was high time to cross off one of the books on my 'to read' list.
3. Valiant Ambition by Nathaniel Philbrick: I always love a good piece of History about the Revolutionary War, especially when it has anything to do with George Washington. This one features the founding father's tumultuous relationship with Benedict Arnold.
Recent blog posts
- Author Q&A with Kate Colby
- Author Q&A with Gabriel Ojeda-Sague
- April is National Poetry Month!
- Book Culture Selects: March
- Q&A with Corinne Sullivan, Author of Indecent
- Find out what Romance Book Club will be reading this month!
- Sara's Review of Her Body and Other Parties
- February Picks from Book Culture Selects
- New Year, New Reads from Book Culture Selects
- Pre-order a signed copy of Eloisa James' new book, "Too Wilde to Wed"