Summer Reading!

Well, we’ve come to the end of another wonderful season of reading, sharing, and bonding over great books!  And now it’s time to kick our feet up at the beach–grab your sunscreen, your swimsuit, and don’t forget that most essential ingredient of all: your beach read!  Below you’ll find some titles to get you through the long summer wait until Literary Masters posts the 2016-17 season reading list!

This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell: Ah…this may be a little unfair because this title hasn’t been released in the States yet.  However, by the end of July you should be able to get your hands on this wonderfully charming novel–highly recommended!  You’ll ponder marriage, parenthood, and the many selves each of us contain as you read what is, at its core, a thoroughly enjoyable love story.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman: Another charmer, this time from a Swedish author, whose debut novel is taking the world by storm.  About a grumpy man.  Well, really about the stories each of us has hidden within, and about friendship, and connection.  Enjoy!


My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante:  If you’re one of the few people on the planet who hasn’t read this gorgeous book about two Italian friends, you have a treat in store!  Actually, four treats, because it’s the first of four sumptuous Neapolitan novels.  Be prepared to ignore loved ones for a long while.

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan:  Well, we had to put this book as a beach read, right?  Even if you’re not a surfer, you’ll enjoy the journey this author takes you on in this autobiography that won the Pulitzer Prize.  He opens your eyes to new cultures and to, yes, the wonderful world of waves.  Have fun!

Disrupted by Dan Lyons:  No doubt you read an earlier WHIRL Books post about this hilarious memoir here.  For fans of the HBO series Silicon Valley (and if you’re not a fan, what is wrong with you???) and also for everyone who looks around the beach and thinks, “where did all these young people come from, and just how do they think they are making the world a better place?”  Laugh out loud with some serious questions explored.

The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan by Rafia Zakaria:  If you can’t visit Pakistan this summer, it can visit you.  Exploring the personal as well as the public aspects of life in Pakistan, this eye-opener is a great nonfiction choice for the summer.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng:  A gripping novel about a family whose daughter is found dead.  How much did they really know about her?  How much do they really know about each other?  One of those books that absolutely lingers for days after finishing it.

High Dive by Jonathan Lee:  Suspenseful and thrilling in its blending of fact and fiction.  Remember the bomb that went off in Brighton, England, in 1984 in an attempt to assassinate the British Prime Minister and her cabinet?  Meet the characters (invented by Lee) who will take you back there.

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney:  We loved the writing in this debut novel, and the four siblings, negotiating their lives around a future inheritance (i.e. the ‘nest’) will make lots of our own families look better by comparison. 🙂  A quick, breezy, enjoyable read.

I Do Not Come to You by Chance by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani:  This award-winning debut novel from Nigeria was part of our Literary Masters 2015-16 season, and it was a hit!  You may not think you want to read a story about email scamming, but you will change your mind as the pages fly by!  So funny but once again, important themes are mined.  The best novel that book clubs don’t know about.

Zero K by Don DeLillo:  Weird, yes, definitely.  But compelling and thought-provoking and different for sure.  Set in a cryogenics facility in central Asia where bodies can be frozen until cures for diseases are found, this novel will challenge you to think about those deep questions–about life, about death, about meaning.  Call it a cerebral beach read.

Well, this ought to take care of your page-turning needs until we post our list!  That should be some time in late August, so STAY TUNED!

 Do you have any titles you’d like to recommend for summer reading?  We’d love to hear from you!

Summer Reading Suggestions!

The year has flown by, and the 2011/ 2012 season of Literary Masters has come to an end.  What a fabulous season it was!  And now, as promised, I have taken LM members’ suggestions for summer reading and have compiled a list here.  There’s not a synopsis or anything to go with the books (although sometimes there’s a quote alongside the title), but you can rest assured that any recommendation from a Literary Masters member has to be good, yes?

The one title that was mentioned in every single salon was Fifty Shades of Grey.  This was the only book that was simultaneously liked and disliked.  And it was universally tittered over.  Described as mommy-porn (what is that???—rhetorical question; please don’t answer it) and evidently featuring sado-masochistic themes, I’m not sure anyone who is an LM member has actually read this book, but we had fun imagining what it is about. 

I could do an entire blog post on “What Exactly is Summer Reading, Anyway?” but suffice to say here that most people think of it as lighter reading, you know, books that are not so taxing on our brains.  Others consider it to be reading that transports us somewhere else.  I always associate summer reading with books set in hot places.

So, I love to recommend books set in Africa or India.  Actually, I’d love to visit both those places, but I’ll have to settle for an imaginary trip…here are some books that have taken me there (or nearby)…

West with the Night by Beryl Markham.  I blogged on it here
Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller
When a Crocodile Eats the Sun by Peter Godwin
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry
Mothsmoke by Mohsin Hamid

The following titles will take us to lands near and far:

Many of you have recommended for non-fiction:

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
In the Garden of the Beast by Erik Larson
To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild
Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

I am very impressed by how many of you are reading the fourth book in Robert Caro’s series on Lyndon Johnson, The Passage of Power. 

more non-fiction:
Coming Apart by Charles Murray
Citizens of London by Lynne Olson
Midnight Rising by Tony Horwitz
Bury the Chains by Adam Hochschild
Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer
Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz (this book is not published until August)

and a ‘hot’ book right now:
Wild: from Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail by Cheryl Strayed (although one LM member finished this recently and wonders what all the fuss is about…)

Some fiction (I’m not sure how “light” these are, but members highly recommended these novels):

On Canaan’s Side by Sebastian Barry (if you liked Brooklyn by Colm Toibin and The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne by Brian Moore–I blogged on that here–I think you’ll like this latest from Barry)
The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst
The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst (even better than TSC in my opinion)
Trapeze by Simon Mawer (he wrote The Glass Room, which so many of us loved last season)
Arcadia by Lauren Groff
We the Animals by Justin Torres “a quick, moving read”
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (he wrote The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet which we also loved last season; many consider Cloud Atlas to be his best)

Moby Dick by Herman Melville (extra credit for members who read this!!!)
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson: “charming, really sweet”
The Schmidt books by Louis Begley; the latest is Schmidt Steps Back
Carry the One by Carol Anshaw
The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger
Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill
The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (one of my favorite authors)
Mudwoman by Joyce Carol Oates “creepy, compelling, and thought-provoking”
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (some of you read this with me; click here for my blog post on it)

More fiction:
Skin Tight by Carl Hiaasen
Strip Tease by Carl Hiaasen
The Queen’s Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile by C. W. Gortner (this book isn’t published until June)
The Jump Off Creek by Molly Gloss
Restless by William Boyd
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (definitely in my TBR pile!)
How It All Began by Penelope Lively: “delightful”
What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander
The Submission by Amy Waldman
There But For The by Ali Smith
Winter’s Bone: a Novel by Daniel Woodrell
Bleak House by Charles Dickens
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
Only Time Will Tell and Sins of the Father, two novels by Jeffrey Archer

We should all laugh more this summer:
Lunatics by Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel (fiction)
I’ll Mature When I’m Dead by Dave Barry (non-fiction)
Bossypants by Tina Fey

Well, this should get you started for the summer.  Thank you for everything this season–reading just wouldn’t be the same without you.  Here’s wishing all of you a safe, healthy, and happy summer filled with good books, good friends, and much laughter!