Summer Reading 2021: Book Culture on 112th
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.
Location: Book Culture on 112th Street
Cara's Reading List
- Stranger Faces by Namwali Serpell: I just finished reading Serpell's 2019 prize-winning epic novel The Old Drift, which was so engrossing that I'm already eager for more. This small essay collection, put out by Transit Books, purports to consider the social and cultural significance of the face through various case studies. The perfect set of questions to ponder as we slowly return to a mask-less world.
- The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty: I have to read a new epic fantasy every year, and I'm astounded I haven't gotten to this one yet. Set in a speculative 18th-century Cairo, it's garnered praise-filled comparisons to George R.R. Martin and Patrick Rothfuss. That plus the fact that it's a female author writing a female protagonist? I'm in.
- The Rock Eaters by Brenda Peynado: I'm a sucker for short stories that straddle the borders of gothic horror, surrealism, and magical realism. These ones are being compared to Carmen Maria Machado's Her Body and Other Parties, which was wildly delectable. Good thing it stays light longer in summer, so I can read late at night and not have too many crazy nightmares!
Cody's Reading List
Let the Record show by Sarah Schulman: I'm so, so excited to finally carve out time to read Let The Record Show. Each summer I try to tackle a "project" book of nonfiction that I can read in between my other, wilder entries. And this widely anticipated chronicle of ACT UP by Sarah Schulman looks to be amazing. Definitely seems like an important follow up to a book I read a few summers ago, David France's How To Survive a Plague.
- Love in the Big City by Sang Young Park: I just got this advanced reader copy of Love in the Bg City and I feel so lucky. Sang Young Park's English-language debut, out this November, comes highly recommended with blurbs from many of my favorite writers: Alexander Chee, Brandon Taylor, and Garrard Conley (among others). And what can I say, I'm a sucker for a book about love in the summer.
- The Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian: The newest queer regency romance from Cat Sebastian. For those of us that love Downton Abbey, but really wanted more for Thomas Barrow.
Joe's Reading List
- The Galaxy, and the Ground Within (Wayfarers Book 4) by Becky Chambers: I've read the previous books in this sci-fi series (The Wayfarers series) and enjoyed them a lot. They're wonderful character-driven stories in a universe filled with loads of interesting sentient species living and working together (usually). It's been a bit over a year since I read the last one, so it's about time I read the next!
- Provenance by Ann Leckie: I recently finished Leckie's excellent Imperial Radch trilogy, which takes place in a universe where AI's run all the spaceships and space stations, working with the humans, and a single AI consciousness can be spread out not just amongst various computers and machines but also amongst reanimated human bodies. (There's so much more than this in the triliogy, but this concept - and the technology and society surrounding it - is at the root of it all.) While Provenance is not part of that trilogy, it takes place in the same universe, and that's enough for me. I wouldn't mind keeping my thoughts in this universe a bit longer.
- Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir: I never read Weir's The Martian, though I really enjoyed the movie. However, I did read Weir's followup book (Artemis) and really didn't like some aspects of it, but I appreciated the story. I've heard good things about this new sci-fi book, including the fact that it's much more like The Martian than his other books, so I'll give it a go!
Josh's Reading List
- The Overstory by Richard Powers: I unfortunately started this book right at the beginning of March 2020... so we all know how that went. I loved every bit of what I had read, but I'm ready to start over and get through it this time.
- The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune: I often stay away from The Big Books with a lot of hype, but between the cover and the synopsis, I'm actually very intrigued, and the title gives me the vibe that it's a great book to read by a sea.
The Power Broker by Robert A. Caro: Talk about one of the best anti-beach reads. I had to read Working for a class and I was completely obsessed over the Robert Moses chapters that I picked this up. It’s been on my shelf for another two years untouched, but fingers crossed I can at least start it.
Kyle's Reading List
- The Letter Killers Club by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky: Sometimes you need a little chaos in your reading life to compete with the chaos in the world and this kooky multi-form story about a surrealist theater troupe? an Oulipean secret society? an allegory of fascism? seems like just the right thing to get the brain organized in all the wrong (so perhaps right) ways.
- Mayflies by Andrew O'Hagan: I often like my reading to meet me at my own severe nostalgia and reading the summary of this new-release made me question "have I read this before?" Intense friendship re-analyzed years later---see Besson's Lie with Me, Leon's Wanderer, and Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go---is my go-to literary theme when I find myself at a loss for what to read.
- Shifting the Silence by Etel Adnan: I'm constantly shamed by BC's very own Cara for not having read any Etel Adnan and if she didn't already convince me, the cover definitely did.
Lucas's Reading List
- By Night in Chile by Roberto Bolano: Apparently I have relatives in Chile and I've always been curious about this country. I've never been. Who has money? Bolano is a shameful blind spot for me so I figured I'd start with this little book since 2666 looks like a brick and summer only lasts three short months.
- The Elementary Particles by Michel Houellebecq: Somebody recommended this novel to me. This is the one that made that French troublemaker guy famous, and yes he took a lot of heat for it. Michiko Kakutani called it "a deeply repugnant read". Beds should be soft but for me reading books should feel like slumbering on a pile of infected needles.
- Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson: To be honest, I thought the much beloved Jesus' Son was "meh". I felt the stories were too brief. They were like many weak sparks from a dying lighter, and I lusted for a single all-night bonfire. So perhaps this six hundred page epic will satisfy that fix. We'll see.
Nash's Reading List
- Klara and the Sun By Kazuo Ishiguro: I picked this book because now that we are going back into some form of normalcy, I really wanted to have a book inspire me to love again after feeling so closed off for so long. I was looking for a different/new perspective about love.
- The Midnight Library By Matt Haig I chose this book because of the magic that I felt from the cover as well as the description. I love a good existentialist book that makes me think about what would be different about my life if I had made different choices. It always makes me appreciate the choices I have already made that much more.
- In Five Years by Rebecca Serle I chose this book for my summer list because I really wanted to read about love but something that wasn't cliche, with a twist to it. And this certainly has one.
Nick's Reading List
- Island by Alduous Huxley: A friend recommended this to me a while ago, and I feel like there's no better time to start catching up. It's Huxley's final book, and I'm hoping it leaves me a little less horrified than "Brave New World" did.
- Learning from the Germans by Susan Neiman: I read a little Neiman in one of my classes this past semester and wanted to get into her more deeply. This feels like a good place to start, especially given the increasing calls for modern nations to face their own evil pasts.
- This is Your Mind on Plants by Michael Pollan: I could not be more excited for this new release, and I'm exceedingly frustrated that I'll have to wait until July to crack it open. Pollan's writing is clear and decisive, and I love all his past work. Also, I'm simply jealous of how cool he is.
Patrick's Reading List
- The Aeneid by Virgil (trans. by Robert Fitzgerald): Law school courses begin for me in August, so this summer I'll finally be catching up on the books everyone else read freshman year, including the Aeneid. First semester law school reading will probably involve copious city-state plundering and queen-seduction, so it will be good to brush up on my Virgil.
- (and 3) JR by William Gaddis and The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens: These are two, allegedly uproarious, comic novels of massive heft from authors with undeserved reputations for an anemic, anti-humanist view of human character. I'm bored of life and I actually have this view, so they should make the perfect combo.
Zofia's Reading List
- Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe: After devouring Say Nothing and then giving copies to my mom and brother so they could do the same, I was so excited to hear about Keefe's new release. I'm looking forward to another non-fiction read that has a narrative distinctly woven as if by a seasoned novelist.
- The Collected Schizophrenias by Esme Weijun Wang: A renowned book I've been wanting to read since it came out 2 years ago but for some reason have yet to pick up. I'm determined to finally let myself dive into what sounds like an absolutely astounding set of essays this summer!
- No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood: I find Lockwood's literary voice to be unparalled. Her memoir Priestdaddy is an all-time favorite book of mine, so naturally her new novel is high on my TBR list! (And can we talk about that cover? It's just screaming for a spot on any and every bookshelf.)
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