It’s been an excellent season of reading. I got some awesome new titles for Christmas and I’ve been happily shutting myself away for hours reading, in part because it’s been so damn cold out. But that’s exactly why I like winter: with nothing much to do but stay in, there’s plenty of opportunity to snuggle in with a book or a TV show and relax until spring comes! Here’s what I’ve been reading lately, that I think you’ll like too.
We’ve all seen the displays at our bookstores: whole tables weighed down with books with a placard that says “Beach Reads” or “Summer Reads” (not to be confused with summer reading). The general idea is that beach reads are fun, easy to blow through and frivolous. Plane reads are similar: something like a romance or a thriller that will help melt away those long, uncomfortable hours spent on a plane. And that’s true, but why should plane or beach reads be limited to easy reads?
During summer, I like to re-read, or challenge myself with something more difficult or a classic, because I know I have more time to devote to it. But I’m also one of those people who plonks down on a beach chair and talks to no one for hours. But if you’re like me, check out these stellar beach/plane/summer recommendations!
Little, Big by John Crowley
This book was recommended to me by my sister, who has been pestering me to read it since I can remember. Since she also recommended I Capture the Castle to me, which is one of my Top 10 Favorite Books of All Time, I tend to trust her.
Little, Big is magic realism, about a man called Smoky Barnable who travels to another world to marry a woman named Daily Alice Drinkwater. According to my sister, it’s both elegantly written and strange, filled with unexplained magic. Sounds like just my type.
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
Of course I want to read this one! I also have the sequel, Ten Years Later that I thrifted for like a dollar last year. Score.
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
Ever since I actually read Lolita, I’ve wanted to read this book. It’s pretty well known and it’s tucked away in one of my shelves, but I want to take the time to read it. It’s about a teacher who secretly teaches this book to her students in Iran, and a true story.
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
Ach, I’ve been wanting to read this one for over a year, but it’s daunting. I also didn’t much care for Murakami’s Norwegian Wood, the only other novel I’ve read by him, so I’m strangely reluctant.
One of these days I’ll pull this one off my shelf and hunker down, and what better time than the dog days? Long, warm nights and long books go so well together!
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
I was a big fan of Lahiri a few years ago and even though I much prefer her short stories (especially Interpreter of Maladies) to her novel, I have to read this one. It’s also somewhere in my bookshelves ready to be dusted off and read.
So what are you all reading this summer? Sound off in the comments!
Excuse the semi-offensive title (sorry I’m not sorry). I have a complaint to lodge to the book gods, namely, that there are too many 700+ page books piled up on the top of my wardrobe right now (in lieu of adequate shelving) and far, far too few hours in the day. The reason I love big books is the same reason I don’t enjoy reading on a Kindle as much as I enjoy reading a physical book, and it has everything to do with aesthetics: big books are pretty, and they feel good. There’s something about holding a big brick in your hands and cracking it open that is so satisfying and exciting–you can’t get that feeling from a Kindle display and a bar on the bottom that says 27% read. Ya just can’t. You have to feel it.
Although, I have to admit, my Kindle came in handy when I read Anna Karenina a couple years ago and it wouldn’t fit in my book bag when I rode the train. Still, I argue that the tactile connection with a real book is worth the extra poundage and possible back pain. So, in honor of NYFW, I present the bindings of my favorite, big, bold to-be-read books currently languishing on my overstocked shelves. Cue the lights.
Tune In: It was fifty years ago on February 9th that history was made and the Beatles played their iconic performance on the Ed Sullivan show. On Sunday my father came home from the Fest for Beatles Fans, which he attends annually, with a book befitting his bibliophile daughter: Tune In, by Mark Lewisohn. It is the first of three volumes, the second and third of which are to be published in seven and fourteen years, respectively. I want no one complaining about Game of Thrones anymore.
As my father waxed poetic about the amount of research that went into writing the book and how he spoke to the author at the Fest’s book-signing, I found myself salivating at the chance to read such an exhaustive history of The Beatles. Even my father, a veritable walking Beatles encyclopedia, said there was a lot of information included that even he didn’t know. You should see the inside. The type is positively teeny. Lemme at it.
His Dark Materials: Okay, so I haven’t forked over the cash to buy this one yet. I’m hoping some good Samaritan just drops it in my mailbox, because the purse strings aren’t loosening just yet.
1Q84: I snagged a copy of this unusual beauty a few months ago at the Strand, for a portion of the price! I love a good bargain, and a good, hefty book. I just may pack this one with my parka for Alaska so I can get a chunk read on the plane. Plane reading is one of my favorite kinds, because there is literally no where to go and little to see (although I do love the window-seat views)–it’s the perfect setting to do some feverish reading.
Gone With the Wind: This is my best friend’s favorite book. I did see the movie when I was a kid but I don’t remember much of it and the only things I know about the book are the normal stuff everyone knows from pop culture. Since this book is such an American classic, I’ve always been eager to read it.
Les Miserables: I wasn’t crazy about the film version and have never seen the live musical, but that’s because the book is always better. 😉
I have been reading like a fiend so far this year but I still feel like I’m slacking, and also that there are too many books I want to read and only so many eyes I have in my face (only two). I’ve been dying to read these books. If you’ve read them and can offer insight, critical or otherwise, or if you have a fifty dollar bill you’d like to donate so I can buy these, let me know in the comments (I really should renew my library membership).
1. Ender’s Game: my sister is teaching this book to her eighth graders and raving about it nonstop, and I’ll admit I’m curious about all the hype and controversy surrounding the film version. I’m never one to not read a novel/see a movie because of the personal beliefs of the artist. I believe art exists separate from its creator. Also, Ender’s Game is an undisputed classic and I’d like to experience it for myself.
2. His Dark Materials: this novel(s) is another example of being able to separate the artist’s own beliefs from the narrative and story. This trilogy is a classic fantasy piece of literature, and also happens to be a popular film. I’m noticing a pattern in my literary choices.
3. PAULO COELHO: i.e., everything he’s written. I’ve previously read By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept and I loved it. I’m a third of the way through The Alchemist right now and highlighting every other line. Coelho has the ability to infuse a sense of magic into an otherwise mundane story. Santiago the shepherd and his journey to achieve his life’s purpose have me bewitched. I’m planning to read The Valkyries next.
4. 1Q84: I feel like I’ll need at least three weeks to read this tome, and I’d like to spend the necessary time with it. Hopefully I don’t put it off for too long. Maybe it’s a good plane read for my trip to and from Alaska next week. Being stuck on a plane is a great way to get some books read.
6. A Winter’s Tale: those sappy, beautifully-shot commercials for the film have made me want to read the novel. This desire may also be a symptom of the lovey-dovey Valentine’s Day feeling in the air, but I’ll take it nonetheless! I’ve heard great things about the novel, so hopefully I get my hands on a copy of this soon. (Also a movie!)
7. The Lowland: I love to read immigrant literature, especially if it’s by one of my favorite authors, Jhumpa Lahiri. I received the hardcover for Christmas and can’t wait to sink my teeth into it!
There’s nothing I love to do more during the winter season than bury myself in blankets and read, most often with some sort of
spiked hot beverage 😉