Do you ever have nights when the internet is calling your name, in a voice not to be denied? When you just can’t stop clicking, going from website to website? When it happens to me, it’s a bit akin to Odysseus and the sirens, except that I don’t have the magic ear plugs or whatever to protect me, so I just keep clicking away. I can’t explain the phenomenon but I’ve noticed (oddly enough) that it always seems to occur when I’m facing a day filled with tasks I don’t want to do or appointments I don’t want to keep!
Today my clicking compulsion centered on summer reading lists, which abound this time of year. I adore lists of summer reading recommendations! Although I don’t really change my reading selections by the season, it’s always fun to see what other people are reading, or what they think you should be reading; I’m a bit lazy and checking out lists of reading recommendations is also an easy way for me to stay somewhat current with new books, as many summer reading lists heavily feature newly published work. Since I’d hate to keep the fruit of my “labor” to myself, I’m listing the lists my clicking has uncovered!
I rely pretty heavily for my reading recommendations on the book section contained in The Guardian. Although it can be a little frustrating when there’s a lag in the U.S. edition (I’ve sometimes waited for months before a particular title becamse available in the U.S.), the Guardian covers numerous U.S. as well as U.K. authors and its reviews are truly excellent. For 2019 it’s published an excellent “Summer Reading Guide,” with a hundred recommended fiction and non-fiction titles. The guide lists relatively recent books, covers a wide variety of genres (such as “Modern Life” and “Page Turners,”which are thoughtfully listed with the title) and encompasses non-fiction as well as fiction. I found some interesting fiction recommendations here, of books I had either forgotten (Tom Rachman’s The Italian Teacher) or didn’t know about, such as Halle Butler’s The New Me. The Guardian doesn’t have a pay wall (an increasingly rare occurrence), so no problem with access. I really love The Guardian’s book section.
The New York Times has also compiled a Summer List of seventy-five titles from a similarly wide variety of genres such as “Thrillers,” “Travel,” “Crime,” Horror,” “Outdoors” and so on. Unlike The Guardian’s more traditional format, the Times’ list is more of an interactive affair, so more clicking is required. Also unlike The Guardian, the Times has a paywall, so if you’ve exceeded your monthly quota of free clicks, you may have to wait until next month to see the list.
The Washington Post has given a slightly different twist to its summer recommendations, coming up with “100 Books for the Ages.” Want to know what to read when you’re 43 years old? Why, Claire Messud’s The Woman Upstairs, of course! Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle is for the 24 year olds, while Alex Comfort’s The Joy of Sex is recommended for the age 30 set. O.k., o.k., I know it’s gimmicky but it is kind of fun! And it’s quite encouraging to see Herman Wouk’s Reflections of a 100-Year-Old Author recommended for the centenarians among us. The Post has also a more conventional “20 Books to Read This Summer,” which is a bit heavy (for my taste) on non-fiction, such as Steven Gillon’s biography of John F. Kennedy Jr. (The Reluctant Prince) and Evan Thomas’ bio of Sandra Day O’Connor (First). Although pretty conventional, the fiction choices are of all the latest & trendiest, so you’ll be well able to impress the other lawyers when you’re standing around the water cooler. And there is one piece of exciting news: Colson Whitehead has a new novel, The Nickel Boys, which will be available on July 16th. The Washington Post, like the NY Times, has a paywall; if you’ve only one free click left I’d go for “100 Books for the Ages.”
Bustle’s “30 New Books Coming Out in June 2019 To Look Forward To Reading This Summer” is worth a glance. Each title has a brief descriptive paragraph, which is a nice feature. The article also contains internal links to additional recommendations for different genres such as graphic novels and rom-coms.
Just as a reminder that tastes differ, and that mine differ quite a bit from the terminally esoteric, I usually check out the seasonal reading recommendations from contributors to the Times Literary Supplement. Each contributor offers a chatty little paragraph discussing his or her reading choices, which can be particularly interesting if you have a thing for a particular contributor, such as the great classicist Mary Beard. On a somewhat less elevated level, the New Yorker’s writers have compiled a “What We’re Reading This Summer” feature, which, as you might expect, covers a select but quite broad range of fiction, memoir, and non-fiction. Both publications are picky about subscriptions so your access ability may be limited if you’re a non-subscriber who browses them on a frequent basis.
To find some recommendations that offer different perspectives on race and gender, NPR’s Code Switch Book Club has some interesting selections drawn from its listeners’ recommendations. These include Kwame Appiah’s The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity and Uzma Jalaluddin’s Ayesha at Last, a modern take on Austen’s Pride and Prejudice set in Toronto’s Muslim community.
Well, I could keep going but I’m sure you’ll agree that enough is enough, at least from me! Do you have any great lists or recommendations you’d like to share? If so, I’d love to see them.
Oh — before I forget — the painting at the beginning of this post is called The Tax Collector and is by Tibout Regters, an 18th century Dutch artist.