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14 June 2009

What are you reading this summer?

Poets and Writers Magazine posed the question on their FaceBook page Friday: What's your summer reading list? I don't usually have a specific reading plan, regardless of the season, but it seemed a good time to look at some of the books that I have 'on deck'. My resolve to not buy any books this year hasn't held, but I have made a slight progress through the mountains of unread books. My list is 10 books, and 3 books of poems. Probably a bit idealistic, but I on extended summer until the first frost, I may be able to complete at least 50% of this list. What is your summer reading list?

Novels:

The Time Traveler's Wife. Audrey Niffenegger. My book group read this a few months ago, but it was during a period when I was busy with work, so I only completed the first few chapters. Reading LitLove's recent review has brought this back towards the top of the reading pile.

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Anne Tyler. This is the selection for my book group this month. This has been on a list of books to read for years. I'm looking forward to reading this.

City of Thieves, David Benioff. In a weak moment, (as far as my "no new books" rule) I was talked into buying this by a clerk at Border's. I have only read the first few pages so far -- not enough for it to capture my full attention, although I have heard very promising things about this book.

Short stories:
In Our Time, Ernest Hemingway. I was thinking about this book recently, and was prompted to buy a copy when I was bookbrowsing in Paris. Yes, it's an American writer, a book in English, but I was at Shakespeare and Company, a place where Hemingway hung out in the 20s, so buying a book by him while there didn't seem so out of place, just a bit touristy. Courtney wrote a few weeks ago about launching a "Haunted by Hemingway" reading group. I hope she includes this book.

Non-fiction:

Mark Bittman Food Matters. I purchased this book several weeks ago and was eager to read it immediately, but was disappointed when I opened the book to realize that the first page was page 53. I did exchange it for a copy that had all of the pages -- and in the right order -- but it seems to be a book that I'm reading in short spurts. Somewhere in the stacks are other books by Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, and Barbara Kingsolver on food and ethics of eating local and organic.

My Stroke Of Insight, Jill Bolte Taylor. I'm reading this for another book discussion group. A brain scientist, Bolte Taylor was able to learn about her area of expertise in a way few of her peers ever had when she had a devastating stroke at 37. This book is about insights learned during her long recovery.

Leaving Mum and Pup, Christopher Buckley. I saw an interview with Buckley a few weeks ago and was intrigued enough to go buy his book. The first few chapters have made me laugh in parts, and, in other parts, sympathize with his pain over the deaths of his parents. I've read about a third of the book, and while it can't help but be name-dropping -- it's about Bill Buckley the standard-bearer of conservatism for decades, for christssakes -- there is something in this book that goes beyond the celebrity nature of Buckley's parents. I'll probably write a post about this book at some point. I have a copy of one of Christopher Buckley's novels that a friend gave me a few years ago. It promptly made its way to the bookshelf with the cover not even having been opened. I may find that book when I'm done with this, as I do like his prose style.

Letters On Cezanne, Rainer Maria Rilke. Another book that I've had for some time. Rilke's letters to his wife regarding multiple visits to a Cezanne exhibit. I find writing about art very difficult because I do not have the vocabulary of an art critic. These letters, though, are not a critique, but a description of a personal experience with the paintings. I'm planning to avoid the lengthy commentary at the beginning of the book until after I read through the letters.

Spiritual
I usually have a book or two with a theological or spiritual focus that I'm reading. Right now it is L William Countryman's The Poetic Imagination: An Anglican Spiritual Tradition. I am expecting a heavy dose of Donne and Herbert in this book, but I am mostly interested in reading this because I have an interest in exploring the intersection of spirituality and art. This may be a bit too academic for "summer reading" -- maybe for any kind of light reading.

Poetry
Always have a few books of poetry that are close at hand for perusing, rather than languishing on the bookshelf. Current volumes are:

Sixty Poems by Charles Simic
After by Jane Hirshfield.

While in Paris, I purchased Into the Deep Street: Seven Modern French Poets, 1938 - 2008. The poems are in both the original French, and translated into English. This may take a long time for me to get through, but it should be interesting and challenging. I am unfamiliar with the 7 poets in the volume: Jean Follain, Henri Thomas, Philippe Jaccottet, Jacques Reda, Paul de Roux, Guy Goffette, Gilles Ortlieb. Actually, I'm unfamiliar with any contemporary French poet.

And, as for working on my French skills, I had to purchase a copy of Antoine de Saint-Exupery's Le Petit Prince while I was in Paris. A favorite of mine since childhood, I use to have a copy in french that I first purchased in Paris 30 years ago, but I couldn't find it recently when I wanted to. I'll probably reread this again soon.

That's enough to last me through the season and beyond. We'll see how many of these are read in the next few months or what other books may grab my attention.

I'd love to read what you is on your summer reading lists. Leave it in the comments.

9 comments:

Kay said...

Well ... in my case it'll be my Winter list.
I find at the mo. I am too busy writing to read. (It usually happens that way ... but writers do need to read, so I must make more of an effort ...) I am known for going into a bookshop and coming out with a stack of interesting pens and a couple of notebooks rather than reading material. HOWEVER, I do aim to finish reading 'Beach Music' by Pat Conroy, plus read: Katherine by Anya Seton, The Travels of Maudie Tipstaff by Margaret Forster and read (again - must be the fourth reading now) Diane Wakoski's poetry collection Argonaut Rose. I bought a new poetry book today, Pop-Up Invasions by Fiona Farrelll (a NZ poet.) So that's a start anyway!

litlove said...

You have a wonderful list there, Cam, and I'm looking forward very much to hearing what you have to say about the Niffenegger. I've got a big pile of fiction, as ever!, lined up for summer, and am embarking on more research reading on mad Hollywood mothers, this time. Judy Garland and Liza Minelli, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher and Britney Spears are on the list at the moment!

Cam said...

Kay - I have yet to read Beach Music but I have two friends who say that it is their favorite book.

Litlove, since you're reading Hollywood moms, if you haven't read already Mommy Dearest, Christina Crawford's scathing book about her mother Joan, you should consider it for your list.

ZoesMom said...

That's a great list! Now you just need a wonderfully long vacation and a very comfortable lounge chair. Perhaps and attentive, but not intrusive waiter on hand? Oh, wait, that's my fantasy :-).

Time Traveler's Wife is one of those books I wish I hadn't read so I could have the pleasure of reading it for the first time again.

Dorothy W. said...

The only book I know of for sure is Infinite Jest with the Infinite Summer group. And then there will be book group books, but other than that, I'm not making specific plans. I may start Holmes's Coleridge biography, and that will take me much if not all of the summer and beyond to finish. Your summer reading list sounds great!

Emily Barton said...

What a great list. My summer list is more vague: "read some -- any -- Updike," "let's finally read some Margaret Millar," "How many books do I have that people have lent me? 12???!! Better get reading..." "I hope I get to Edgar Sawtelle this summer. Ridiculous that I've had it since Xmas and still haven't read it when EVERYone says I should," "Let's do short stories with Cheever and Stegner if we're in the mood," etc., etc. The only ones I know for sure are Jude the Obscure (for book discussion group meeting in September) and Christine Falls (next mystery book discussion group book).

I loved Food Matters (so, so sensible without making you feel guilty), and I'm like ZM -- wish I could read Time Traveler's Wife all over again never having read it. Maybe I'll re-read it this summer...

Ted said...

The new A. S. Byatt, On The Origin of Stories, The Snow Geese, The Little Stranger, The Night Watch, Little Monsters, Rhythms of the Brain, perhaps a biography or two. I'm working on one of Patricia Highsmith right now. BTW, I just read on another opera lover's blog that the Opera of St. Louis's production of Salome is great!

Courtney said...

hmmm, I know I commented on this post...was it put in spam?

Cam said...

Courtney - I didn't see one. Don't know what happened.

Ted -- interesting list. I'll have to check online about the St Louis Opera's production. STL is probably just a little too far to drive from where I live to be a fun trip. I used to commute 2x/month to there and think I've memorized every mile of the 4.5 hr trip.

Dorothy - I tried Infinite Jest once but just couldn't seem to get into it. Looking forward to reading what you think about it.

Emily -- Edgar Sawtelle has been sitting on my bookshelf for awhile.

ZM - sounds like your fanatasy reading vacation would be lots of fun.