Summer Reading 2018: Book Culture on Columbus


It's finally here, our favorite time of the year: summer reading season! There's just something about the warm weather that gets us excited to get lost in a good book, whether it's a classic that we're revisiting (or finally getting to!) or that new book we've been hearing so much about. Here, then, are some of the books we're looking forward to reading this summer.

Check out what our colleagues at Book Culture 112, Book Culture on Broadway, and Book Culture Long Island City are reading, too!











1. Furyborn by Claire Legrand: Ever since her exquisite middle grade novel Some Kind of Happiness, Legrand has been one of my favorite new authors to watch. Furyborn promises to be a lush, epic story. At this point, I'd truly read anything that she put out, but the fact that it's YA fantasy with two awesome heroines makes it absolutely the #1 thing on my to-read list. 

2. The Overstory by Richard Powers: People at the store are positively raving about this one and I can't wait to pick it up. I've been really into longer, epic stories of late-- things that I can get lost in for a little while and might take longer to get through. This seems like it will fit the bill. And who doesn't love trees? Monsters, that's who.

3. Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston: This one speaks for itself, I think. It's incredible enough to have newly released work from Hurston, but the work itself is sure to be vital and harrowing. I hate calling books "timely" or anything like that, but it seems to me like this book will soon be required reading for all of us as we tackle our own history as a means of securing a better future. 











1. Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet (trans. by ?): Writer Michelle Tea said to read this book in a very intriguingly titled article on The Rumpus ("What to Read When You Need to Understand How to Live"), and so here I am. This book sits at the intersection of French, weird, and queer, which is probably my favorite place to be, literature-wise.

2. Motherhood by Sheila Heti: Sheila Heti's 2010 novel(ish), How Should A Person Be?, had everything I love in a book - genre-blurring, existential anguish, a sense of humor (not least about oneself), and lots of scenes of smart women friends talking to each other about all kinds of things. Heti's new book is about deciding whether or not to have a child, which is an internal struggle I cannot currently relate to, but I'm happy to come along for the ride just to see what she'll make of the subject.

3. A Minor Apocalypse by Tadeusz Konwicki (trans. by Richard Lourie): I've recently become interested in Polish literature, and after reading Witold Gombrowicz's bizarre, filthy, and entertaining Pornografia, and an advance copy of Olga Tokarczuk's Flights (out in English in August 2018!), I'm onto Konwicki. The book begins with a famous writer being asked to self-immolate for a political cause, so, you know, a fun, light, summer read. But isn't light reading overrated? Maybe? Sometimes?











1. Stoner by John Williams: Since starting at Book Culture last year, I keep encountering this book. It's popular with customers, multiple people have recommended it to me, and I always seem to be shelving it. I'm taking it as a sign that we're meant to be together.

2. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte: I've never totally lost my childhood love of dinosaurs, so this new work that spans their entire 200-million year history–from evolutionary beginnings to cataclysmic end–is a must-read. Pairs perfectly with the new Jurassic Park movie, also out this summer (never lost my childhood love of those, either!)

3. Border Districts by Gerald Murnane: This guy's story is fascinating. Australia's most-acclaimed, least-known author, he lives in a small country town and has rarely left the state in which he was born. This novel, apparently his last, is a reflection on a life lived both in person and through books. His anecdotal stories and meandering style are best read slowly. Perfect for a lazy summer's day.











1. Beneath the Underdog by Charles Mingus: No matter how stoic I try to be during my day, listening to a Mingus tune at night is like bursting an emotional cyst that oozes out gallons of my backed-up feelings. This book is this eccentric jazzman's life told through his own words. Funny enough, I read somewhere that he exaggerated or even straight-up fabricated the majority of the memoir but, come on, that's besides the point. He was an artist.

2. Death in Midsummer by Yukio Mishima: Sorry Hemingway but a shotgun blast to the face ain't as psycho as committing ritual suicide immediately following a failed right-wing coup...which is what Yukio Mishima did in 1970. Easily one of the most talented and fascinating names in literature. Anyways, this collection of short stories, hand-picked by the man himself, has been sitting, unread, on my refrigerator for a few months and I feel guilty holding off giving it a go. I am particularly excited to read the famous story, Patriotism, that seems to foreshadow his own death.

3. Reading Myself and Others by Philip Roth: I initially had a different book as my third on this list but changed it last minute upon hearing that Philip Roth had passed away (Portnoy's Complaint is easily among my favorite novels ever); so given that, I'm going to jump back into reading more Roth during the summer. I'll kick this off with his first collection of non-fiction: mostly interviews with him and essays self-examining his work. R.I.P.











1. Smoke in the Sun by Renée Ahdieh: I've been waiting to read this book for a year. It's the sequel to Flame in the Mist and is sure to be just as action packed and romantic as the first one. 

2. The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell: I'm planning on taking this adorable middle grade graphic novel about the power of imagination on a date to the park. It looks like the perfect cure for the summer time blues.

3. Educated by Tara Westover: This memoir charts the author's childhood spent in the wilds of Idaho with zero formal schooling to her adulthood studying in the hallowed halls of Harvard and Cambridge Universities. I'm obsessed with education and how people learn and Tara's story is such an unusual case. I can't wait to delve into it. 











1. Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon: I have been slowly reading Pynchon's work and I figured this summer would be a perfect time to get through it.

2. Warlock by Oakley Hall: Recently I read Blood Meridian and was looking for more westerns to read and the cover really caught my attention.

3. Beloved by Toni Morrison: My girlfriend recommended this book to me and she is forcing me to read it this summer; threatened I am compelled to read it but I have been wanting to read something by Toni Morrison for a while now so it all works out in the end.











1. Damnation Island by Stacy Horn: This book is the perfect intersection of my nonfiction interests: NYC history! Corruption! The embarrassing truth of how we treat poverty! Medical innovation! Blackwell Island has been one of my personal NYC obsessions for years, and this is the first comprehensive history of it to be released. I can't wait to learn more about this forgotten part of the city.

2. Slave Old Man by Patrick Chamoiseau (trans. by Linda Coverdale): Since I seem to be reading important books that aren't at all topically appropriate for summer, this feels perfect. This is an English translation of story about an escaping slave in Martinique and the prose is supposed to be unbelievable. The sample sentences I've read sing, so while it's not an easy subject to read about, I think it will be transporting nonetheless.

3. Invitation to a Bonfire by Adrienne Celt: This seems like the perfect smart summer read: a dangerous and sexy love triangle loosely based on the lives of Vladimir and Vera Nabokov. I assume this will look at obsession and class, writing and relationships, with just enough of a dash of danger to make beach reading incredibly exciting.











1. Furyborn by Claire Legrand: A YA novel about independent women who do magic? Separated by centuries but somehow connected?  Every fantasy reader’s dream right there. 

2. Circe by Madeline Miller: After reading Ms. Miller’s Song of Achilles I fell in love with her writing style and storytelling abilities. Plus I’ve always harbored an obsession with Greek myths and legends so really this one is a no brainer. 

3. Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik: My goal this year is to read more women of color and read more about women from different parts of the world. This book is a fictionalized story about Forugh Farrokhzhad, an Iranian poet/actress/ feminist waaay ahead of her time and very out of place. Sounds like a perfect book for not only my desire to read about incredible women from all over but also a great read to help cure some of the summer wanderlust. 


Happy reading! And if you need more ideas, check out what we read last summer


Staff Pick Badge
Furyborn (Empirium Trilogy #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781492656623
Availability: Not In Stock - Usually ships in 3-5 Days
Published: Sourcebooks Fire - May 22nd, 2018

The Overstory: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393635522
Availability: Not In Stock - Usually ships in 3-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - April 3rd, 2018

Staff Pick Badge
Barracoon: The Story of the Last
By Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker (Foreword by), Deborah G. Plant (Introduction by)
Email or call for price.
ISBN: 9780062748201
Published: Amistad - May 8th, 2018

Our Lady of the Flowers (Genet) Cover Image
By Jean Genet, Jean-Paul Sartre (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780802130136
Availability: On hand at one or more locations, see product page for details
Published: Grove Press - January 12th, 1994

Motherhood: A Novel Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781627790772
Published: Henry Holt and Co. - May 1st, 2018

Minor Apocalypse Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781564782175
Published: Dalkey Archive Press - July 1st, 1999

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Stoner Cover Image
By John Williams, John McGahern (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781590171998
Availability: On hand at one or more locations, see product page for details
Published: NYRB Classics - June 20th, 2006

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062490421
Availability: Not In Stock - Usually ships in 3-5 Days
Published: William Morrow - April 24th, 2018

Border Districts: A Fiction Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780374115753
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - April 3rd, 2018

Beneath the Underdog: His World as Composed by Mingus Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679737612
Availability: Not In Stock - Usually ships in 3-5 Days
Published: Vintage - September 3rd, 1991

Death in Midsummer: And Other Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9780811201179
Availability: On hand at one or more locations, see product page for details
Published: New Directions -

Reading Myself and Others (Vintage International) Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780679749073
Published: Vintage - May 29th, 2001

Smoke in the Sun (Flame in the Mist #2) Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781524738143
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers - June 5th, 2018

The Cardboard Kingdom Cover Image
ISBN: 9781524719388
Availability: On hand at one or more locations, see product page for details
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers - June 5th, 2018

Staff Pick Badge
Educated: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399590504
Availability: On hand at one or more locations, see product page for details
Published: Random House - February 20th, 2018

Gravity's Rainbow (Classics Deluxe Edition): (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) Cover Image
By Thomas Pynchon, Frank Miller (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780143039945
Availability: On hand at one or more locations, see product page for details
Published: Penguin Classics - October 31st, 2006

Warlock Cover Image
By Oakley Hall, Robert Stone (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781590171615
Availability: On hand at one or more locations, see product page for details
Published: NYRB Classics - November 21st, 2005

Beloved (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781400033416
Availability: On hand at one or more locations, see product page for details
Published: Vintage - June 8th, 2004

Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781616205768
Published: Algonquin Books - May 15th, 2018

Slave Old Man Cover Image
ISBN: 9781620972953
Availability: Not In Stock - Usually ships in 3-5 Days
Published: New Press - May 1st, 2018

Invitation to a Bonfire Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781635571523
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - June 5th, 2018

Staff Pick Badge
Circe Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316556347
Availability: Not In Stock - Usually ships in 3-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown and Company - April 10th, 2018

Song of a Captive Bird: A Novel Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780399182310
Published: Ballantine Books - February 13th, 2018