Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Summer reading

The summer blockbusters have been underwhelming (sorry, just couldn’t get excited for a third Batman or a talking teddy bear). And though I’ve seen a handful of amazing indie and foreign films (The Queen of Versaille, Bernie, Easy Money), and finished off the Friday Night Lights TV series (awesome), I’ve been getting my creative fix through books. Amazing books.

In fact, I can’t remember reading a better string of impressive books. Head-over-heels in-love-with books.

It all began when I visited McNally Jackson and scooped up five books on a whim. That was followed by a visit to Three Lives, where I got a couple more. Never mind that I have no more shelf space and had told myself to read what’s already at home before buying anything new. It was the summer weather. The beautiful covers. The lovely and seductive environments. And that both bookstores prominentlydisplayed Paris, My Sweet—great beach chair reading if I do say so myself—just might also have factored in.

One by one, at random, I’ve been engulfing my new books (and wouldn’t you know, I found space on my shelves). If you’re looking to finish up the season with a great read (other than Paris, My Sweet), here’s what I’ve got:

Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman – A devastating but beautiful non-fiction love story. Although I began to not like Goldman toward the end, the man can tell a story like no one’s business. Brutally honest, sweet and whimsical, set partly in New York, with a suckerpunch ending.
Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy – Romantic, exotic, original—this is the kind of book that makes other writers jealous. It’s so beautifully written and thought-provoking that I subsequently returned to McNally Robinson for a book of his short stories, The Secret Lives of People in Love.
You Deserve Nothing by Alexander Maksik – Unbeknownst to me until after I finished the book, this one’s controversial because it’s very transparently autobiographical story. But I don’t care. Maksik weaves together literature and philosophy and love and lust in modern day Paris. Brilliant.
State of Wonder – Ann Pachett’s latest. It took me a while to really get into it, especially  on the heels of three strong, punchy, masculine books. But Pachett’s range and depth and beautiful style drew me in, more and more, until the ending was like fireworks, one bang after another getting bigger and more incredible.

Next up: Remembrance of Things Paris: Sixty Years of Writing from Gourmet. Food. History. Paris. Edited by my idol, Ruth Reichl. It promises to keep my string of good reading fortune alive. And after that…. What do you recommend?


  1. I have been reading English Murder Mysteries.
    My Kindle is jammed with atmospheric, bloody murders and some not so bloody, while I try to forget at small intervals of time, how far I am from England .. or even the US, where they speak English :)
    I am one foot in Argentina, the other in NY and it makes for twitchiness ...
    Once we are back and settled again, I will relax and read serious literature .. for now, a cozy murder and a cup of tea makes me happy ~

  2. To stay in France, I recommend Le Road Trip, a great great book by Vivian Swift. and if you can wait tomorrow very early morning, my review will go up on htt://wordsandpeace.com

  3. "Paris to the Moon" by Adam Gopnik is one of my favorite books.

  4. If you haven't already dipped into Kitchen Confidential, I highly recommend. I've also just begun The Imperfectionists which is fantastic so far!

  5. Going over The Channel, I would say Jonathan Coe's What a carve up! is just brilliant... And Maupassant's Bel Ami. In French. I just picked it up, read a few of the first lines and then the girl at the counter said: 'Because of the movie, right?' Uhm, no.
    I also love getting into whatever my boyfriend or his male friends are reading. Many interesting and unusual finds.

  6. Thank you for all the great book rec's!