Top Ten Books I Naively Suggest I Might Read this Summer

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and this week’s post is our TBR summer list.

Let’s start off with honesty. I don’t think that I’m going to read ten books this summer. The strange thing after starting grad school is in some ways I read less. Don’t get me wrong, I’m reading all the time as an operational hazard of the profession, but that’s mostly journal articles lately. At least, I read less novels, and reading for fun is this rare unicorn that seems to stop in glades just out of reach only to taunt me. But, I’m going to post this list anyways.

1. Something by Juan Felipe Herrera

I’m not sure which book, but I’ve got to read something by the new Poet Laureate before Notes from the Assemblage comes out this September. Any suggestions?

2. Ethan Frome

This past year, I fell as hard for Wharton as Henry James did when I read The Touchstone. As a fool, I didn’t read Ethan Frome when it was assigned in high school. I didn’t read a lot of what was assigned in high school. Or my undergrad… I will remedy that this summer!

3. Winter’s Heart

Confession time: I’m one of those fans of The Wheel of Time series who never finished it. I’ve started rereading book nine because I’m not sure where I stopped nearly a decade ago. I can’t remember a lot of the side characters’ names, but there’s something very comforting in the familiar prose style.

4. Remains of the Day

Agh! I’m so close to finishing. Part of why it’s so slow-going is that every so often, I turn to my wife and say, “How did they accomplish _____ in the movie?” This book follows the meandering mind of the narrator so well in ways that I just don’t see how the movie can do the same. She keeps telling me that I’ll be surprised.

5. A Long High Whistle

David Biespiel introduced me to Jack Gilbert and Charles Wright. I’ve been following his writings on The Poet’s Journey and enjoy the nearly-mystical view of poetry in them. And not too long ago, there was this definition of poetry:

Q: What is poetry?

A: Poetry is the art of compassion. Poets, who take pleasure in ordering language, aspire to know suffering and then, through knowledge of suffering, gain enlightenment.

6. The Practice of Misuse: Rugged Consumerism in Contemporary American Culture

Close readings of Fight Club, No Country for Old Men, The Road, and MacGyver? Sign me up. If you’re interested in an academic take on Cormac McCarthy’s works, then Raymond Malewitz is the author for you. My own thinking on Oryx and Crake and Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table has been largely influenced by him.

7. What is Surrealismbreton

Breton’s book keeps catching my eye on the shelf. Maybe it’s the bright red cover or the way “Sur-real-ism” is broken up on the spine, or maybe I just want to understand Appia’s paintings and The Prisoner better, but I think I need to read this soon.

8. The Fall of Arthur

I’ve had this for over a year and haven’t had a chance to read it yet! Tolkien’s The Lay of Sigurd and Gudrun was amazing, and I expect no less from this. I mean, look at how it starts with the Roman Campaign:

Arthur eastward in arms purposed
his war to wage on the wild marches,
over seas sailing to Saxon lands,
from the Roman realm ruin defending.


9. The Malaise of Modernity

This was a radio lecture by the philosopher, Charles Taylor. I haven’t read anything of his since studying his work on practices back when I was a philosophy major in undergrad. I like his mixture of communitarian thought and virtue ethics, but considering how large this list has become, maybe I’ll listen to it instead.

10. Wise Blood


Holy fritz! Flannery O’Connor’s reading glasses!

I love Flannery O’Connor’s short stories. I was excited when I got to see some of her juvenilia at Emory’s special collections. I’m now moving to Georgia and already planning trips to Milledgeville and Savannah, and I realized that I haven’t read Wise Blood. It should be familiar since parts are reworkings of stories I’ve already read, but I really do need to read her first novel, especially with how long I’ve been captivated by this passage:

His second night in Talkingham, Hazel Motes walked along down town close to the store fronts but not looking in them. The black sky was underpinned with long silver streaks that looked like scaffolding and depth on depth behind it were thousands of stars that seemed to be moving very slowly as if they were about some vast construction work that involved the whole order of the universe and would take all of time to complete. No one was paying attention to the sky.

5 Responses

  1. You will LOVE Savannah (I hope) my hometown. I drive past Flannery O’Connor’s childhood home quite a bit, which sits in the beautiful Lafayette Square neighborhood. O’Connor is held in very high esteem here. I can only read some of her short stories on a very sunny morning…outside…with the birds singing. Otherwise, she can chill you to the bone!

  2. That is so true about reading less since starting grad school! While doing my MFA I have read almost no fiction and have perfected the art of skim reading and filleting useful quotes…….

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