The art of summer reading
Some recommendations, traditions, and best reads.
Summer is a time for reading. It’s more literally a time when the Earth’s axis is tilted so that the northern hemisphere receives more sunlight, creating longer, sunnier days. But it’s mostly a time for reading.
Whether you want to finally get around to starting that classic everyone is talking about, you’re looking for clever quotes to quip in conversation, or maybe you just want to read something worthwhile, we’ve got you covered. Here is a list of some of the best summer reads around.
Southern Gothic: The American South has a lot to offer, aside from terrific accents. Sometimes the dialogue can be a bit foreign to those of us from up North, but the flowing prose captures the reader’s attention so that the story and the characters will seem all too familiar. The Southern novel is full of depravity, wit, and the deepest pathos.
The Complete Short Stories by Flannery O’Connor
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Postcolonial: With the fall of imperialism and Europe’s colonial system, a plethora of peoples and cultures began struggling to identify themselves. These books, while often frustrated and tragic, display the lies and truths that both separate and unite us.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Márquez
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey
War: Is War hell? Does it rip men from their homes and shatter their very souls, or does it offer boys a chance to show true courage and become men? These books, showing war on and off the field of battle, wrestle with these questions as they fight against simple definitions of war and personhood.
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Marche
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemmingway
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Adichie
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Russian: Oh, those Russians. From existential crises to peasant fatalism, the Russians could make compelling narratives out of just about anything. While Russian books can seem excessively lengthy and filled with more names than you learnt in O-week, there is no better time than summer to sort through the stories to find the most compelling portraits of human compassion.
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Doestoevsky
The Winter Queen by Boris Akuinin
The Overcoat and Other Short Stories by Nikolai Gogol
Metafictional Mindspinners: Sometimes you just gotta read a book that makes your head hurt. These books are puzzles wrapped in enigmas that when solved, reveal that sometimes life is frighteningly bizarre and beautifully confusing.
Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
The Life and Opinions of Tristam Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne
James Joyce - Ulysses
If on a winter’s night a traveller by Italo Calvion
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Have a great summer and happy reading!
In the Summer I'm allowed to have as many books going at once as I would like to, as long as I finish them all. I end up reading about five really wonderful books that I plan to read and then a whole heap of fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, and random best-sellers. I'm a sucker for covers, and in the Summer I allow myself to be.
This Summer, I tentatively plan finish or read: Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (because I read the other thirteen)
Everything That Rises Must Converge because Flannery O'Connor
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
poetry, poetry, and more poetry!
For your Summer reading, I recommend:
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. No, really. It's a classic for a reason, and it's beautiful. Read it, and then come talk to me about it because no one understands!
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card because it's great science fiction.
The Innocence of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton
One interesting summer reading tradition I have is to soak up the sun while I read. Specifically, I only read very dark and gloomy books in typically winterous settings, while sun-tanning.
Diverging in part from my above-mentioned summer-reading habit, I will be re-reading, the Hobbit, the Lord of the Ring Trilogy, and the Simarillion. Middle Earth, in many ways, derives from the Arthurian Kingdom of Summer (To this end, I could also recommend Malory's Morte D'Arthur, or Tennyson's Idylls of the King, or even Stephen Lawhead's Pendragon Cycle).
I usually read lying on a tattered picnic blanket on a lawn, awkwardly jostling a book from hand to hand trying to block the sun. This summer I hope to read Richard Niebuhr's book Christ and Culture, which has been alluded to in several of my classes. I also hope to read Five Red Herrings by Dorothy Sayers. After reading Strong Poison over Christmas break I became enchanted with the character Lord Peter Wimsey, and was happy to find that there were several other books in Sayers' series.