Midway between June’s Summer Reading List, and sharing a new list of great books to read in the fall, this week it seemed a good time to post a Midsummer Reading update. A little feedback on some of the novels I’ve read so far this summer, as well as those great discoveries of books I’ve added to my reading list.
Early Summer Reading
- Amy Greene’s Long Man (2014). I highly recommend this novel, which mixes an element of mystery and beautifully lyrical writing in unveiling the subtle secrets and loves of a small mountain village during building of a dam in their valley to introduce electricity and income during the Depression.
- Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed (2013). Yet another insightful novel from author of The Kite Runner (2004) and A Thousand Splendid Suns (2008). Although… it had a hard time competing against other reading favorites in the past month.
- Erin Morgenstern, Night Circus (2011). I was slow to ‘discover’ this one, although readily captivated by the unique and mysterious community Erin creates — I loved this one and it makes my recommended reads.
- Alice McDermott, Someone (September 2013). Actual sigh. I love Alice McDermott, and I also am familiar with her quietly powerful style. But I was so impatient the full first half of this novel. Tons of description of domestic detail (furnishings of rooms, mostly). There is a powerful, albeit subtle, payoff in the end, so I still recommend reading, but I don’t know that it is one of my favorites of hers. Beautifully written, just very quiet.
Anthony Marra, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (2013). So far, my favorite read of the year (he catches a slight boost in that his writing structure and topic fit my writing mood at the moment). There’s such powerful accuracy in every sentence, with a masterfully balanced structure of varying timelines and points of view. I did a lot of underlining as I read. This one has had several nods for awards: long-listed, short-listed and awarded. If you want details, I reviewed: Reading: Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena.
- Carol Rifka Brunt, Tell the Wolves I’m Home (2012). This was another reading favorite. Beautifully told, it was most surprising for being a book so much about love without being about a romance between main characters: love between sisters, between uncle and niece, between a parent and the parent’s sibling… At all times, Brunt delivers authentic and new insights. It is particularly a fresh portrayal of homosexual partnership and the AIDS crisis of the 80’s. While not written as young adult fiction, it’s a book I would include in teen reading lists.
What I’m Reading Now
I just received delivery of a few of the books I couldn’t find in bricks and mortar stores, so am exciting to be reading these, this week:
- Gae Polisner, The Summer of Letting Go (March 2014). If you have a teen reader or read young adult literature, I really recommend this one. I was instantly pulled in by the endearing voice of the main character, who is stalking a beautiful neighbor, Nancy Drew-style, worried the woman has seduced her father. Sometimes subtle, sometimes bold, it is compelling, the weight this girl feels to hold her family together after her brother’s drowning. Beautifully written.
- Colum McCann, Fishing the Sloe-Black River: Stories (1996). This one was on my Summer Reading List 2013, but I’ve just now gotten ahold of it. Despite a factual detail that really undermined the plot of the first story, it’s so far delivering the voice I so admire McCann for, for its concise and subtle precision. He tends to be a favorite.
- Colm Toibin, Bad Blood: A Walk Along the Irish Border (2001). I’m still waiting for this one to arrive as it was hard to track down. Kudos to small booksellers (and my ability to find them through Amazon) for having just the book I was looking for.
Newly Added for Midsummer Reading
Here are a few books I’ve added to my reading list since June’s list.
- Helen Oyeyemi, Boy, Snow, Bird (March 2014). I first ran across Helen’s writing with a really strong short story in a literary magazine a few years back. I’d put Mr. Fox on my reading list, and was reminded of her when I came across Boy, Snow, Bird, her new release. I’ve heard great things from other reading friends.
- Colin Barrett, Young Skins (January 2014). This short story collection was just recognized with the Frank O’Connor prize, and Barrett’s writing has been praised by writers I love, like Colm Toibin.
Carryovers from Prior Lists
Some of these have carried over from prior lists as I track them down. Each is highly recommended.
- Aminatta Forna’s The Hired Man (2013)
- Joshua Ferris’s To Rise Again at a Decent Hour (2014)
- Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers (2012)
- Matthew Dicks, Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend (2012)
- Nova Ren Suma, 17 & Gone (2013), or Nova’s novel that’s most true to her heart, Imaginary Girls.
- E. Lockhart, We Were Liars (May 2014)
- Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch (October 2013)
- Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries (October 2013)
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How About You?
What are you reading, what would you recommend, or what books make you to be read list? If this inspires you to blog your own list, share link to your post so we can come read with you.
Where do the book links take you?
For convenience, you can click book titles for their link at Amazon — or find them at your favorite indie bookseller through indiebound.org:
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More on Books and Reading:
- My Summer Reading List 2014
- My Reading List Winter 2014
- Reading: Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
- My Summer Reading List 2013
- March Reading Challenge: The Books You Always Meant to Read
Is Novel Revision your summer goal?