I’m not the Times or the NYRB but I read enough to have a few recommendations for the summer. I am currently reading I Love Dick by Chris Kraus and recommend it (from the first 100 pages or so). My list is idiosyncratic to say the least, but here goes nothing:
Summer reading for those with Big Book syndrome: Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
Say you just read a meaty book like Infinite Jest or the LBJ books or maybe even Gravity’s Rainbow and you would like some unwieldy novel that isn’t also gonna max out your mental CPU. My rec: Inherent Vice. I realize this isn’t new information. but if you haven’t had a chance to get groovy with Pynchon here it is. The undercurrents of geo-political machinations are here, but so are a bunch of Foxy Brown like badasssssses. See also: Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue
Summer reading for the OCD gardener: The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean
I did my bit on this with the Adaptation post, so read about it there. Hate flowers and everything ever written or said about them? That’s ok, because Orlean is engaging and this book really is more about the (surprisingly often fatal) obsession with beautiful flora and fauna.
Summer reading for the writer with serious block: The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker & 10:04 by Ben Lerner
Baker narrates his life like I sweat; often and all over. His world, or rather his avatar Paul Chowder’s world, is clear to us from the way he gives us failures and flaws. It is writing about a writer trying to write poetry. It is often a poem about failing. I really enjoyed The Anthologist and less so the Traveling Sprinkler but both read together (the sell it as a twofer if you like) give you all the Chowder you’ll need.
Lerner‘s book is less about block and more about changing directions while making a project. I wrote about 10:04 this year as well so you can see that here. There is a constant thread of contemporary art throughout 10:04 which greatly appealed to me.
Audiobook – Bonus Guilty Pleasure – Reading without Reading: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams as read by Stephen Fry.
Considering that Fry’s fine reading of some of the silliest text ever written is pitch perfect. Spending 6 hours revisiting this old friend was a treat. Have a long car trip, no problem! Just listen to Fry tell you the tale of Vogon Poetry or the Pan Galactic Gargleblaster. I dare you not to laugh!
Extra Bonus: Car Tripping podcasts (recommendations assuming you have already consumed Serial in it’s entirety and are interested in long form storytelling)
Read and listen well and enjoy your summer!
-Jeff Bergman July 2015