Some of you know this already, some of you might not: I love to read. I read all the time. In the mornings, before work. At work. After the gym, before dinner, and after. Just before bed, and anywhere in between. Where ever I’m at, chances are I’ll have a book with me too. If you can’t see it, it’s probably in my backpack.
The summer months are some of my favorite times of the year to read. Sure, winter is nice – you get to sit next a fireplace or a heater and get cozy – but it gets dark by six. That’s wack. There’s something special about sitting on the beach and falling asleep with a book in your lap. Nothing beats it.
I also like reading in the summer because it’s when I have the most freedom to read what I want. Fall, winter, and spring are all dominated by whatever I’m assigned for school. I get to sneak a few of my own picks in here and there, but it’s rarely enough. My list is much more flexible in the summer.
I’ve made it through about half of my list so far. Here it is, with a little about each book:
One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The first book of Marquez’ (who, unfortunately, recently passed away) that I’ve read. The story follows the Buendia family’s lives as they turn Macondo from a small village to thriving town. They live through disease, war, industrialization, and natural disaster. Marquez writes beautifully and brilliantly – after about fifteen pages it was clear why he won the Nobel Prize. This book was incredible, although a little dense at times. There were moments where I felt like I’d been reading for a half hour, only to find out I’d just barely covered six pages – even though a whole new generation was born, lived their entire lives, and died.
Jesus’ Son – Denis Johnson
This one was recommended to me by my friend, Lucas. A collection of short stories set in the midwest. They follow the lives of several heroin addicts (they’re all told from the perspective of the same narrator – known only as “Fuckhead”) as they commit crimes, take drugs and try to get their lives in order. My favorite parts of these stories were the perspective and Johnson’s writing style. The narration was chaotic and all over the place, mirroring the characters lives. “Car Crash while Hitchhiking” (the opening story) and “Work” are my two favorite stories in the collection. Definitely one of the more interesting books I’ve read this summer.
The Autobiography of Red – Anna Carlson
A novel in verse. Carlson’s modern retelling of the Hercules and Geryon myth. In the myth Hercules has to kill Geryon for one his labors and take his red cows. In Autobiography of Red, that isn’t quite how things go down. We get a much more human view of things, told from Geryon’s perspective. It’s kind of weird, but really unique and interesting. This is the most stylistically innovative and ambitious book I’ve read this summer. Also a book recommended to me by Lucas.
Too Much Happiness – Alice Munro
I snagged this one off my father’s bookshelf. I’m about halfway through it as I’m writing this post. Alice Munro’s stories are always brilliant – this collection is no exception. Her writing is incredible. It’s so subtle, precise and nuanced. She does more in thirty pages than many writers can do in three hundred. Her work is always a pleasure to read. “Free Radicals” and “Wenlock Edge” are the standouts of the collection so far. If you have the time, I suggest reading everything of hers that you can get your hands on. That’s my plan.
The River Swimmer – Jim Harrison
Another book I took from my father’s shelf. I don’t actually know too much about this one. My dad has been telling me good things about Harrison’s writing for years now so I finally got my hands on one of his books. I’m looking forward to getting into it. I’ll let you know what I think of it once I finish.
Said the Shotgun to the Head – Saul Williams
The only book of poetry on my list (I’m slacking, I know). I’ve never read Saul Williams before. I was walking through Barnes & Noble one day and this caught my eye. I’ve only just glanced at a few of the pages but from what I’ve seen it looks pretty experimental in terms of narrative and form, so I’m excited to check it out.
The Sound of the Waves – Yukio Mishima
Mishima is widely considered tone one of Japan’s greatest writers. He was a finalist for the Nobel Prize in 1963 and organized a coup to restore the Emperor to power in 1970 (he was unsuccessful, but it’s still sort of bad ass). I read a collection of his stories called Death In Midsummer and really enjoyed them – they were dark, funny, and immensely powerful – I’m interested in seeing how he handles the longer form.
What do you think of my list? What are you reading? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on twitter at @incitethemag or @calbino18! I’m looking forward to hearing from you.