Summer Reading

The 5:30 a.m. of today felt decidedly different from the 5:30 a.m.s of weeks past. The sunrise cached low, biding time—an hour longer, more? The floorboards cooler beneath listless first steps. A sweatshirt, musty from disuse, pulled from a dresser drawer. For the first time in a long time, fall(-ish); and thank goodness for it.

If you’ve spent any time in Greater New York City this summer, then you know that times have been hot. Relentlessly, sweat pooling along your collar as you step inside the car—9:00 a.m., why did I not bring a water for this ten-minute ’round-the-block walk? hot. While I’m generally one to spend every possible un-wintry moment outdoors, this was a season for nesting. For stepping outside for brief strolls—sunrise or sunset, ideally—eyes darting across the street for spots of shade, and moving towards them; for keeping the appointments and running the errands required; but mostly, for being home, and turning on the normally-loathed central air, and in quiet moments reading.

Below are a few books from my reading list of late. I liked them all, and think you may, too.

An American Marriage (Tayari Jones). First, listen to Tayari Jones speak on Death, Sex & Money, and daydream for a while about sharing a margarita or three. (I mean, really. Don’t you want to be friends with this woman?) Then, head to your local library, and if you’re lucky enough to secure a copy, bring An American Marriage home. It’s a portrait of a marriage torn asunder, but also of race, and ambition, and criminal (in)justice, and why we even marry—and stay so—at all.

Look Alive Out There (Sloane Crosley). I first encountered Sloane Crosley in a “desert island books” interview with T Magazine, in which, speaking of Lorrie Moore’s Birds of America, she said something to the effect of, Just reading that table of contents makes me happy. Instant kinship. Since then, I’ve read and enjoyed her essay collections—the most well-known among them, I Was Told There’d Be Cake. (Though, not so critics’ continual David Sedaris comparisons. Why? Not really at all, IMO… {Also, is anyone else out there not all that into David Sedaris?} Anyway.) This one, I loved. I laughed out loud (literally, often) and among other things, gained affirmation in whatever vague sense I had that there is really no reason to ever hike an active volcano, on your period especially, in South America.

Forest Dark (Nicole Krauss). So historically, I’ve not been the world’s biggest fan of Nicole Krauss; in fact, I’ve made some very snarky and deeply un-feminist comments about her narrative talents vis-à-vis those of her former spouse. But. This I liked! Set primarily in and around the Hilton Tel Aviv, the novel tells two distinct stories—one of an aging Jules Epstein and the other of a Nicole Krauss stand-in, both of whom are seeking meaning and metamorphosis in the desert amid dissolution on their respective home fronts. I’ll admit, I found the final chapters a bit…tortuous? elusive? off? But maybe I just need to give them another go-around.

Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win (Jo Piazza). I loved Jo Piazza with How to Be Married; and I loved her more when I learned she’d ghostwritten the whole Younger meta-novel thing. (Aside: please tell me you’re also watching Younger? Darren Star x Gossip Girl x Sutton Foster x lit-ra-cha? I mean, come on…) If you have any interest at all in the current state of womanhood and/or politics in America, do yourself a favor and pick this one up. It’s fun and whip-smart and makes me more than a little bit hopeful for these midterms ahead, and for the future beyond them.

Now, how about you? What have you been reading and liking? I’d love to know.