Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Summer Reading Lists: Let's Sign a Blood Oath

I loved this post on Paper Cuts about making a list of "Summer Reading Goals," a roll-call of books to be read over the summer, just like back in elementary school (or the summer before AP English). I thought I'd post mine here so that everyone could check back in and mock me if I didn't finish all of them. Shame is a powerful motivating factor for me.

Here are the books I will read this summer:

The Known World, by Edward P. Jones. I know, I should've read this by now. You know why I haven't? It's a dumb reason, but I'll tell you. My wife got a hardcover copy of this back when it came out, and I really prefer to read paperbacks. Who wants to lug around a hardcover all the time? And I just can't bring myself to buy a second copy of the book, which means that eventually, I'll have to sit down with the hardcover. It's going to happen this summer.

Murder in Amsterdam, by Ian Buruma. I somehow missed this book entirely when it came out a few years back, but I recently read an essay of Buruma's about Mel Gibson's anti-semitic tirade, and it piqued my interest. This examination of Holland's reaction to the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh seems like the better bet than Martin Amis' largely panned The Second Plane (although part of me wants to hear Amis tear into someone, anyone. That's always fun).

The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, by Aimee Bender. I'm remedying one of my short story blind spots. Everybody tells me these stories are weird, fun, heartbreaking...all the good short story adjectives. Bender sounds like good summer reading to me.

In the Drink, by Kate Christensen. My literary crush on Kate Christensen is well-documented. It continues this summer as I track down her first novel.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, by John Le Carre. I liked The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, which I read a few years ago in Paris. It's time I got around to another Le Carre novel.

Please Excuse My Daughter, by Julie Klam. We all know how much I like Julie Klam's blog. Yesterday, I was killing time down on the sales floor, and I picked this up and read the first two pages and laughed twice. I don't read many memoirs, but I think I'll make an exception for this one.

Decline and Fall, by Evelyn Waugh. My token "dead British guy" for the summer.

Could I finish all these this summer? I think so. Will I? I hope so. What are your reading goals for the summer? Post them in the comments. We'll motivate each other to push on!

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At 12:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, resisted The Known World because everyone kept telling me how great it was, and that always makes me mad, but I absolutely loved it. My summer literary goal is to read Joyce Cary, but I don't think I'm smart enough. (That could go on the sub-list of books I am too dumb for).

At 9:32 AM, Anonymous Edan said...

I am going to read Kate Christensen's The Great Man next, and I want to sink my teeth into some Edith Wharton.

At 1:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have only read The House of Mirth-- and guess what? No mirth to be had!

Edan, I was just walking my dog and reading a Gotham Workshop brochure and I saw you in there- are you a bi-coastal teacher?

At 7:43 PM, Anonymous Edan said...

I haven't read a single Wharton novel, which is just inexcusable.

I teach online classes for Gotham; I don't have to leave my house to do it!

I was also going to tell you that when I worked at Book Soup, there were a couple of employees who were big Matthew Klam fans. Two writers in one family? Wowza!

At 9:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's very cool about your teaching. I wouldn't have the slightest idea how to do what you do. I was even looking at the How To Write A Memoir class thinking, how do you write one? Anyway, I'm afraid Patrick is going to kick me off for talking too much off topic so I'll leave with this -- Matthew Klam fans --were they lads, by any chance? And --I'm not reading Joyce Cary, I think it's enough that I know he's not a girl.


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