What’s on your Summer Reading List?

My friend Stephanie wrote, a few years back, about a conversation on “summer books” she heard on the radio wherein the panelists were trying to decide what made a book a great summer read.

“For me,” she adds “the real magic in summer reading has little to do with specific books; it is the dream of languorous mornings and afternoons with nothing to do but read. Visions of hammocks, deck chairs, beach towels, or tree-shaded lawns; sandy-bottomed tote bags with water-damaged paperbacks; chlorine smells and lake smells and sunbaked dirt smells, all mixed in book mustiness and sunblock—these are all lovely things, but time in abundance is the best. Time to be bored, to be hot and lazy, to feel like there is simply nothing else to do but curl up on the porch with a plate of Triscuits and a sweaty glass of wine and a stack of whatever has been languishing unread by the side of the bed.”

I was cursing my computer yesterday, trying (fruitlessly) to download photos of Spain, in an attempt to finish a travelogue before the kids’ school year wraps up, and we head off for a week of vacation, when it dawned on me that I might be better off eating Triscuits with wine, so to speak. Alas, I think the travelogue might have to wait. But I do need to choose a new book should a hammock or deck chair present itself next week. Here are some titles I’m considering…

Calypso, David Sedaris
I might choose the audio book for this one, only because I love having Sedaris’ voice in my ear. On the other hand, his voice is so distinct that it always manages to come off the page anyway. Allison McNearney, of The Daily Beast writes: “If there’s one thing you can count on in life, it’s Sedaris to leave you giggling on the beach in both humor and horror. His latest collection of stories is a bit more serious than his previous, but even when the Sedaris clan is at its worst, the humorist reveals their antics with his characteristic wit in a way that manages to both soften and sharpen the dark truths behind the stories he tells.”

Normal People, Sally Rooney
The Washington Post calls it “a novel that demands to be read compulsively, in one sitting,” and says “At 28, Sally Rooney [who also wrote Conversations with Friends] has been called the voice of her generation. Believe the hype.”

Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens
So many people have recommended this, it seems inevitable! From the The New York Times Book Review: “A painfully beautiful first novel that is at once a murder mystery, a coming-of-age narrative and a celebration of nature….Owens here surveys the desolate marshlands of the North Carolina coast through the eyes of an abandoned child. And in her isolation that child makes us open our own eyes to the secret wonders—and dangers—of her private world.”

Save Me the Plums, Ruth Reichl
“Dishy memoir,” might be the most apt description for the legendary Gourmet magazine editor’s book. I’ve been a longtime fan of hers and am interested in hearing her take on the changing media landscape.

Dreamland, Sam Quinones
Not new this year, but the Opioid epidemic is not, unfortunately, going anywhere. In a starred review, Booklist writes: “Journalist Quinones weaves an extraordinary story, including the personal journeys of the addicted, the drug traffickers, law enforcement, and scores of families affected by the scourge, as he details the social, economic, and political forces that eventually destroyed communities in the American heartland and continues to have a resounding impact.”

Ask Again, Yes, Mary Beth Keane
Meg Wolitzer, author of The Female Persuasion, called this new release “a powerful and moving novel of family, trauma, and the defining moments in people’s lives. Mary Beth Keane is a writer of extraordinary depth, feeling and wit. Readers will love this book, as I did.” The cover tells me they want fans of Little Fires Everywhere to pick it up—and that includes me.

Heartburn, Nora Ephron
I’ve long meant to read Heartburn—by the late, great Nora Ephron (the movie is great). The description on Amazon, “Heartburn is a sinfully delicious novel, as soul-satisfying as mashed potatoes and as airy as a perfect soufflé,” suggests it would be perfect for summer.

I also need to finish the Ferrante trilogy (I’m on book two), and you know from last week that Daisy Jones and the Six is high up on my list, as is the memoir on my Father’s Day gift guide! Finally, Colson Whitehead has written some of my favorite books ever (cf. Underground Railroad), so I’m pre-ordering the July release of The Nickel Boys.

What’s on your list? Wishing you all time in abundance!

P.S. How does your bookclub make its picks?

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