6 Books To Read For The Summer (Or Anytime, Really)
Winter, spring, summer, and fall are all good seasons for spending entire days curled up with a book. The only difference? The accompaniment: a crackling fire when it’s cold and wet. A wreath of fresh flowers and dashes indoors when it begins to suddenly rain. In the summer, there’s the beach (and in fall? It’s all about crisp leaves falling onto pages reminding you where you are.
So, while I initially envisioned this as a summer reading list, it will work just as well for any other season. So, don’t fret if you can’t make it through all six by the end of August.
In no particular order and with something for every mood — fiction, non-fiction, short stories, adventure, intrigue, beauty, drama, and humor — a book list for now and always.
The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner: I would happily recommend all of Rachel Kushner’s books (consider that a recc-adjacent) but this is her latest and I just finished it so I’m suggesting you read it. If Orange is the New Black, Chicago, and The Handmaid’s Tale (the TV version) had a baby, and it was a novel, this would be it. The reality of all the ways in which the deck is stacked against those born in unfortunate circumstances is terrifying, but the women’s fight for survival in jail will make you laugh out loud, even as it’s breaking your heart.
Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman: The synopsis is as follows, “On Halloween, 1991, a popular high school basketball star ventures into the woods near Battle Creek, Pennsylvania, and disappears. Three days later, he’s found with a bullet in his head and a gun in his hand—a discovery that sends tremors through this conservative community, already unnerved by growing rumors of Satanic worship in the region.”This book is an incredible portrayal of a dark, sexually-fraught friendship, a study of how we fall in love with our friends in surprising and unusual ways. A suspenseful read that also manages to feel intimate from beginning to end. I might have read all 373 pages in one sitting.
Future Sex by Emily Witt (non-fiction): Emily Witt makes an unlikely-seeming sexual adventurer. Slight, pretty, soft-spoken, she throws herself intothe kinds of situations about which most of us muse, “I wonder what that would be like…” i.e. orgasmic meditation, polyamory, sex at Burning Man with a stranger and internet porn. The combination of her daring and curiosity about what makes people — all walks of people tic — inspires this frank, hilarious and thoughtfully voyeuristic look into our sexual appetites and what they mean for the future.
Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires (short stories): As Nafissa herself says in an interview with NPR “Being the only black person in a given situation can be a hard role to fill because you are sort of a representative of what people see as “black,” by virtue of them not having had much exposure to it, there are all these additional pressures on top of the standard pressures of being black in a white world."
Her book, takes various looks at characters grappling with their black identity.The stories are at turns hilarious (two little girl’s mothers bully each other over email), hilariously strange (a woman tries to figure out the best way to tell her followers she’s committing suicide) and beautifully heart-wrenching; the opening story ends, “And what is a black network narrative but the story of one degree of separation, of sketching the same pain over and over, wading through so much flesh trying to draw new conclusions, knowing that wishing would not make them so?”
The Regional Office is Under Attack! By Manuel Gonzales: This is a book you might want to read in the company of someone also reading it so that you can laugh out loud together without turning heads. Picture this: super-powered female assassins called “the amassing forces of darkness that threaten, at nearly every turn, the fate of the planet.” Oracles issuing directives via the office printer. Futuristic, sci-fi elementsmixed with 80s office furniture. A satire of the highest order, what makes this novel so satisfying is that underneath all the satire is the author, deftly investigating real, human emotions, the struggles we endure to feel recognized, worthy, as if we’re doing something meaningful. You know, like protecting the globe from annihilation.
Phenomenal: A Hesitant Adventurer’s Search for Wonder in the Natural World(nonfiction) by Leigh Ann Henion: Reading this book feels like talking to a friend. It feels like someone saying, “you can do it!” when you’re considering selling everything you own and buying a one-way ticket to France. It feels like realizing you’re not the only one feeling stuck — with your job, with your family, with cooking three meals a day every day with what seems like no end in sight. Phenomenal is perhaps best defined by the author herself in the prologue, “Phenomenal is defined as that which is amazing. It also means that which is directly observable to the senses. And what began as a tour of extraordinary sights had evolved into the story of how — in an abstract, digital world of overspecialization — I was becoming the expert witness of my own life.”
Let us know if any of these book recommendations spoke to you, which ones you went out and bought or downloaded and read and what you thought about them.
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