Aside from the sweltering heat and the long, bright days, there's another way to know that summer has arrived: the overambitious reading list.
Perhaps you're out of school, or you're going on vacation, or your job offers summer hours. Perhaps you're simply lured by the additional hours of daylight. Whatever the cause, we've all been guilty of compiling an unreasonably extensive summer reading list. (For many, this condition is perpetual, not limited to summer.)
In case your summer reading lists aren't overambitious enough, here are some of the books from the tops of ours:
Bruce (Head Honcho)
Home, Toni Morrison
One of the most important living American writers, Ms. Morrison is still producing brilliant work well into her 80s.
Breaking through Power, Ralph Nader
My attempt to keep sane during the convention season.
I Hotel, Karen Tei Yamashita
A friend of mine sent me this a couple of years ago, and I've been waiting to get into the perfect mood for it. In the times I've flipped through the tome, I've seen what looks like concrete poetry and comics. In a novel! I'm also interested in literary treatments of place, and the place-based research for the Ghosts of Seattle Past anthology has got me primed to check out how politics fits into the mix. I've also heard it includes a character based on one of my old professors.
Sex & Love &, Bob Hicok
Hicok's last collection, Elegy Owed, is one of my all-time favorite books, and I've been waiting for this one since Hicok came through Seattle Arts and Lectures a couple of years ago and mentioned it. I appreciate poetry books that play various poems off of each other, that build and interrogate a theme or story, and Hicok is an expert at doing that with humor and a bewilderingly tactile sense of wordplay.
Stranger Things Happen, Kelly Link
This has been marinating on my bed stand for a while. A collection of short stories, the jacket copy promises "tap-dancing bankrobbers," "an apocalyptic beauty pageant," and "sexy blonde aliens [that] invade New York City." It sounds surreal/hilarious/insightful (the perfect combo of adjectives). I'm jazzed to read more weird fiction, and I've heard great things about Kelly Link.
Modern Romance, Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg
This one has also been on my radar for a while, but I haven't been able to get my hands on it. A sociologist/comedian collab sounds like the perfect partnership. I watched Aziz Ansari's Masters of None on Netflix recently, and some of the episodes were ridiculously on point (the one about immigrant parents was amazing) but I felt like the episodes that were meant to delve into, well, 'modern romance,' had some 'nice guy syndrome' issues, so I'm predicting I'll have a lot of opinions to express after reading this.
Can't and Won't, Lydia Davis
I like writing that makes you see everyday life with more nuance and sensitivity to minutiae. Davis is a laser surgeon of observation and I want her skills to rub off on me.
A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket
I just decided that Summer 2016 is the summer that I finish this series. There's something about reading creaky, twisty, turny, soggy, creepy stories during the hottest months that's so satisfying.
Olenka (Lowly Intern)
Sh@dy Characters, Keith Houston
The secret life of punctuation, symbols, and other typographical marks? Count me in. I flipped to a page at random and discovered that Alcanter de Brahm of France proposed a punctuation mark to denote irony: the point d'ironie. (One criticism of the point d'ironie is that the reader must still determine if the mark itself is being used ironically.) I also discovered that the book is printed in two colors, with punctuation marks in red, so this will be as beautiful to read as it is fascinating.
The Missing Ink, Philip Hensher
I recently came across an old diary in which I was clearly attempting to alter and refine my handwriting. I must have given up at some point, because my scrawl is still a source of discontent, but I'm hoping this book rekindles that aspiration. Hensher laments that in our electronic age, we typically lack opportunities to know and identify our loved ones by their handwriting. He delves into the history and devolution of handwriting education, the intriguing realm of graphology, and the delight of pens and inks, and I am ready to geek out.
We would love to hear what's on your overambitious summer reading list! Please let us know in the comments.