The Obligatory Summer Reading List, Or, What Are You Reading?

It seems that the thing to do once the weather gets warmer is make lists of must-reads for summer. This is fair enough, though I do have to wonder why I don’t see must-read lists for winter, when the latest blizzard has you housebound, because being stuck indoors for fear of getting hypothermia upon venturing outdoors seems like a great excuse for getting a lot of reading done. But maybe that’s just me. In any case, as I was perusing my RSS feeds yesterday (which had been piling up — I no longer seem to have time to read things on the internet now that Arabic owns my life), and I noted several posts and articles from different places with reading picks for the summer. To paraphrase what I told Levi, I don’t really get it. Am I supposed to have more time to read now that the weather’s warm? Should I be packing a suitcase full of books and heading out to some beach somewhere to court skin cancer and fill my annual quota of chick lit reading? (Another thing — why are these summer picks often insipid? Like we’re supposed to be reading more because what we’re reading is dumb?)

What is it about summer that means it’s reading time? Is it something ingrained from childhood, that summer means freedom and the ability to read whatever we want to once we’re free of the expectations of teachers? Whatever it is, there are a lot of lists out there, and since there are already plenty, I don’t feel the need to make another one. Besides, I’m pretty much not reading anything these days other than my Arabic textbook, so it’s not like I’m running over with recommendations. I will note that it looks like Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach (that Levi reviewed just days ago) is a popular pick for the season — I’ve noted favorable reviews and summer-list status for this one in a few places.

Anyway, since I’m not writing a list of summer must-reads, I thought maybe I could get you to do it. What are you reading this summer? On Chesil Beach? Other stuff? Go on, share your picks and recommendations for the season.

13 Responses

  1. Old Friends, New FriendsDr.
    Old Friends, New Friends

    Dr. Identity – D. Harlan Wilson
    Midnight in America – Don Eminizer
    Down for the Count – Don Eminizer
    Vacation – Jeremy Shipp

    and hopefully I’ll get hold of a copy of Space Savers by Bill Ectric

  2. summer readingI’m finishing
    summer reading

    I’m finishing Faust, by Thomas Mann. Gorgeous, leisurely prose that couldn’t be published today. A masterpiece.

    Proust, Vol 6 – Time Regained. I’m going to finish the entire novel. I am. Slow going but worth it for the great writing and insight into human nature. How Proust gained his profound insight as a shy, sick, often bedridden person is beyond me, but he did. You can read Swann’s Way just for his point-by-point dissection of how Swann convinces himself he is in love with Odette; it’s stunning.

    A clunker: I just read Secrets of Lost Things, by Hay. It has every cliche: the naive country girl from abroad goes to New York, finds a job in a big bookstore (the Strand of course), and meets interesting, eccentric characters. She then becomes part of a search for a mysterious letter. Give me a fucking break! Even the prose itself is bad — clumsy and indistinct. How Doubleday ever published this weiner is beyond me. Avoid.

  3. i used to choose what to read
    i used to choose what to read …

    … now that I’m a litblogger, I just tread water in the stacks of review copies I get in the mail. That’s my summer reading, and my fall reading, winter reading …

    But I do try to devote a portion of my reading time to books that aren’t brand new, and in that capacity I’m trying to catch up on some international classics I’ve never read — Ma Jian, Khaled Hosseini and Roberto Bolano are on my list. We’ll see how far I get.

  4. Sandy toes and summer
    Sandy toes and summer reading

    I’m with you. I don’t get the summer reading list at all. One should not make lists in the summer, one should just read. But I think you are thinking right, summer lists probably began because kids no longer had texts to read and could enjoy the fun stuff.

    As a kid my summers were filled with Nancy Drew the Hardy boys and lots of comic books. I don’t know if comic books are as handy as when I was growing up; we paid a dime and swapped them back and forth til the pages were ragged and the covers torn off.

    I loved lying under a tree, toes pointed skyward wandering the range with Roy & Dale, Tonto and the Lone Ranger and vicariously helping Superman, Batman, Spiderman and the best super hero of all, Wonder Woman, of course, put the bad guys in jail.

    With this summers events, I wouldn’t mind returning to those “glorious days of yesteryear” and find a spot to daydream and wander the plains, toes pointed skyward and a large stack of comic books beside me. That’s what I’d call a great summer reading list. Got any comic books to swap?

  5. Interesting-sounding authors,
    Interesting-sounding authors, Levi. I’ve never read them. Any others on your list? (I have no review copies to read!)

  6. Voices from Street &
    Voices from Street & Graphic Novels

    I just read Mail-Order Bride. I just checked out Bukowski’s Pulp, Eisner’s The Plot, and Miller’s 300. I’m reading Voices from the Street by Philip K. Dick which seems new but isn’t but reads well. I’m also reading Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary and Kucklick’s history of philosophy in the USA.

  7. Quid pro quo, Warreap.You’ve
    Quid pro quo, Warreap.
    You’ve written more than one book, haven’t you?

  8. short list so farI’m
    short list so far

    I’m simultaneously reading Johnson and Boswell: The Story of Their Lives by Hesketh Pearson, and The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. Upon finishing those two, I’ll probably read Fain the Sorcerer by Steve Aylett.

  9. Halfway through ’07
    Halfway through ’07 and…

    …I’m up to book #28 for the year.

    Just finished Beckett’s three novels, “Molloy”, “Malone Dies” and “The Unnamable”. All of them are boring in parts and really surprising/amazing in others. I’m conflicted.

    About halfway through re-reading Spengler’s “Decline Of The West” and am just starting to re-read Thomas Wolfe’s “The Story Of A Novel”.

  10. Proust is a good choice
    Proust is a good choice anytime.

    Time Regained! Where all is explained, and you realize the novel is recursive. It has one of the best Geuremantes (this one is a matinee ) get-togethers ever! Enjoy!

    Proust has to be the best observer ever, because before he became really sick and wrote A la Recherche, he was a dandy that hung out at various parisian salons. His powers of observation are uncanny.

  11. Redemption SongHi.I’m
    Redemption Song


    I’m currently reading Redemption Song The Ballad of Joe Strummer by Chris Salewicz.

    I think it is well done and is a long book. I saw it reviewed in NYTBR by Robert Christgau a few weeks ago, yet Levi didn’t mention in in his weekly Review of the Review. Christgau was way off the mark and I don’t think was objective.

    I certainly didn’t pick this for summer and don’t think I buy in to the whole “summer Reading” thing. I read all the time and pick up books all year long. It seems I mainly read biographies. Before this Strummer book I read Animated Man by Michael Barrier, a biography of Walt Disney. Good review of that here.

    And prior to that I also read Neal Gabler’s Disney biography, Triumph opf the American Imagination.

    “Summer Reading” probably comes from two things — one kids out of school for the summer, so get them in a library program. The other is the leasure class set where they holiday in the Hamptons or something and can sit around and read and think of all sorts of ludicrous ideas. Since these types most likely have populated the publishing industry, this is where such concepts arise.

    We are subjected to the prep schooler view of life’s structures.

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