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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.