Summer Reading 2021: Book Culture on Broadway
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 Broadway
Althea's Reading List
Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead: I love every book I've read by Colson Whitehead, but I especially love when he writes about New York City. Whether it's Zone One (his dystopian zombie novel), the essays in Colossus of New York, or the contemporary scenes in The Nickel Boys, he really has a knack for bringing the city and its inhabitants to life, as well as a remarkable talent to tackle pretty much any genre. I was lucky enough to get my hands on his forthcoming crime novel, which takes place in Harlem in the 60s, and I really cannot wait to read it!
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid: Taylor Jenkins Reid is another favorite author of mine, she's so great at writing characters and places. I devoured Daisy Jones and the Six, and I know Malibu Rising will be the same. Her books ride the line between literary fiction and beach reads in the best possible way, and I am saving this one for a weekend getaway.
Near To The Wild Heart by Clarice Lispector: I've never read any Clarice Lispector, but have been meaning to for a long time. I recently read Rachel Kushner's essay about her, "Lipstick Traces", and now I'm even more intrigued. I suppose her first novel is a good place to start.
Andy's Reading List
World Travel by Anthony Bourdain: Because of the pandemic, I spent last summer at home with my newborn daughter who was born in March. It was such a gift to be able to be with her as much as I was. Whenever it was time for a bottle, I would turn on reruns of Bourdain's amazing No Reservations. I remember watching as much of it as I could years ago. Revisiting it was even better. Anthony Bourdain was an engaging and sharp host of that show, but some might not know his writing is incredibly engaging. He was one of those people I'm so sad I never bumped into here in New York. To have a new book, on travel, no less, is a gift I can't wait to read.
88 Names by Matt Ruff: Okay, here is my fiction pick for the summer. Matt Ruff, most recently of "Lovecraft Country" fame, wrote one of my favorite cult classic novels years ago; Fool on the Hill. His newest book centers on John Chu, a guide inside a video game who's newest client may just be Kim Jong-Un, chased of course, by a possible Chinese agent and John's ex-girlfriend. This feels like Ready Player One meets Still Life With Woodpecker, one of those books you read the back of and know it jumped up the reading list.
Every Night is Pizza Night by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt: This one isn't so much something I want to read, but rather something I know I'll continue to read through the summer. My daughter is still a little young to really sit and enjoy this book, but if my wife and I catch her in the right mood she'll sit with us through the whole thing. It's an adorable journey, with treasures of illustrations by Gianna Ruggiero and authored by food authority J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. (seriously, he's a food wizard.) This is the story of Pipo, who's convinced Pizza is the best food, no question. But, for science's sake, she tests recipes from her friends around the neighborhood, including Bipimbop, Tagine, Beans and Rice, Dumplings and more. It's a great journey through food and culture and what connects us all, something I already love sharing with my daughter.
Ian's Reading List
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoi: I've decided to read War and Peace because I already read Moby Dick earlier this year and I imagine Russian aristocracy/fighting the French is probably incredibly similar to musing over/hunting a giant whale. Plus, who doesn't want to lug around a 1,200 page tome on Jacob Riis beach?
The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis by Lydia Davis: TBF (to be frank), I've never read Lydia Davis and I think it's time to amend that. This book is small, orange, and feels fragile, and many of the stories are roughly a couple paragraphs long, plus she is funny, so this should be a nice respite for when I grow weary of hauling Tolstoi in my tote.
Peplum by Blutch: Peplum is a black and white graphic novel about a Roman bandit making his way towards Rome with a frozen, naked woman in tow. Along the way I'm pretty sure plenty of wild things happen! I've never read Blutch before, though he's evidently a giant in contemporary indie comics. The art is stark and stylish and absolutely beautiful and I'm definitely ready for this summer to be the summer of Blutch.
Marissa's Reading List
My Autobiography of Carson McCullers by Jenn Shapland: I can relate to Shapland in that I also spent quite a lot of my time in grad school buried deep in histories about a single person so much so that my own search for identity intertwined with my research into her life and art. It's always important to re-examine history with a new lens and from what I've heard, Shapland brings that fresh perspective to the table and then some.
With Teeth by Kristen Arnett: Kristen Arnett is my Floridian, lesbian dad and I, and the literary world, am so much better for it. Not only is she hilarious on twitter (@Kristen_Arnett) but her first novel Mostly Dead Things was a sticky and absurd delve into grief, art, familial chaos, and queer love. It can only get better from here with her new novel With Teeth coming out on June 1.
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber: Carmen Maria Machado tweeted about this book being one of the most compelling novels she's ever read, and I would follow her into the dark, tbh. This twisting, erotic novel follows a sex worker in Victorian England and the relationships she forms with a range of characters. Also apparently there's a BBC serial of it starring Gillian Andersen?! Sign me up.
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