Summer Reading

So I’ve committed to not doing a summer reading challenge, and I’m not going to, but I would like to muse a little bit about what I might read this summer. If I make a list of things I will read, I will feel constrained and will quickly get tired of all my choices. But I can think about some things I could possibly pick up, or, better yet, some categories of things I’d like to read, the exact titles to be chosen later. So this is not a very exact list, and it’s also not one I’m sticking to. It’s just some thoughts for the moment:

  • I am committed to reading Proust and Cervantes. I’d like to finish both of these before Labor Day, although that may not be possible. But I’ll try.
  • Back in the days when I was more likely to sign up for reading challenges, I decided to do Kate’s Reading Across Borders challenge, and it’s one I’m still excited about (probably because there are so many possibilities and I didn’t commit myself to any particular titles). So far this year I’ve read 2 books out of my goal of 5 (these include So Long a Letter and Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter). This summer I’d like to read at least one more; possibilities include Mahfouz’s Palace Walk and Eileen Chang’s Love in a Fallen City. But other interesting ones may pop up.
  • I’d like to read some more travel writing. I haven’t read much contemporary examples, but the ones I have I’ve liked (Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It; Eat, Pray, Love; The Places in Between). I’ve got Peter Matthieson’s The Snow Leopard on the shelves, and also Bruce Chatwin’s In Patagonia.
  • A literary biography might be fun too; I’ve got a short one of Proust and am also interested in reading biographies of Virginia Woolf and Jane Austen. I haven’t read that many biographies in my life — largely because they are so often long and I’m a slow reader — but I would like to know more about some of my favorite authors.
  • More poetry — I’m in the middle of Rilke’s Duino Elegies and enjoying it a lot, but I’m trying to decide what poet to read next. Part of me would like to read somebody from an earlier time period, like Keats, for example, and another part of me wants to return to contemporary writers. I’m not sure which side will win out.
  • There are a couple books I’ve been meaning to read because friends recommended them to me (as have other litbloggers); they include McCarthy’s The Road and Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, and anything by Geraldine Brooks, although The Year of Wonders is what I have on my shelves.
  • I’d like to read something challenging. I’m not sure what this means; perhaps a long and difficult novel like The Recognitions which Ted recently sent me (thank you!) or something philosophical like the Martha Nussbaum book I’ve got on my shelves, or perhaps William James’s The Varieties of Religious Experience, which I’ve been wanting to read for a long time. That one wouldn’t be a difficult read, but it would be challenging in the sense of making me think a lot.
  • Perhaps I’ll finally, finally get around to reading the Bhagavad Gita?
  • I’d also like to read as many books as possible from my TBR shelves — not so much to clear them out as to create space for more new books. Here is where my vague plans start to shift into fantasy …


Filed under Books, Lists

8 responses to “Summer Reading

  1. I keep starting challenges and not finishing them, but I’m letting myself off the hook. I do want to do a summer reading challenge – this time reading contemporary American fiction. Have you read anyone you’ve really admired this year, Dorothy? I’m searching for recommendations right now.

    Your summer reading looks wonderful, by the way!


  2. This is exactly my kind of reading list! That’s what I tried to do for the summer reading challenge. If I can choose my own and then leave wiggle room, I am more likely to accomplish at least a little of what I set out to do. I would like to finish DQ by the fall, too. I feel like I am being a terribly lazy reader with it, but it is the sort of book you should read twice, right? So this is my reading for pleasure turn…I also want to read The Road, though I think I need to be in the right mood for it! Have fun pulling books from your list!


  3. Specific, yet vague. I like your list. Lots of wiggle room. I love to make lists but then panic when it comes time to stick to the books on the list, there is always something that gets left off that suddenly seems so much more appealing. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m trying to cut back on my book buying and read the books I already have. I figure if I don’t make a big deal out of it, I’ll have a better chance of actually sticking to it.


  4. Hmmm…I’ve been thinking about the Bhagavad Vita myself, but really haven’t gotten much past thinking about it. Sounds like you’ve got a wonderful summer of reading in store.


  5. Ted

    If you’re looking to read something difficult, you can hardly do better than to choose The Recognitions. I think, and I’m going to need to think about this all day now, that it’s the most difficult novel I’ve ever read.

    Hah! Seriously, though, it’s spectacular.


  6. Wolfgang

    As for travel literature, Paul Theroux’ Dark Star Safari would give you what you need, some shaking up to get the book dust off you. Then, when you want to read a book about a literary type in the same style, I suggest Theroux’ book about V.S. Naipaul, Sir Vidia’s Shadow.


  7. Litlove — have you read Marilynne Robinson? Her novel Gilead is wonderful; I can’t remember if you’ve written about that one or not. I recommend it highly if you haven’t read it. Danielle — DQ IS the sort of book you should read twice, and I can see exactly why it would be worth while to do that. I’m not reading with a whole lot of care either — I’m enjoying it, and that’ll be enough. Stefanie, I won’t tell anyone, I promise! 🙂 Emily, reading sacred literature sounds like such a great idea, but it can take a while to get motivation up, can’t it? Ted — you’re right, and you’re inspiring me to want to try to read that difficult novel. Wolfgang — thanks very much for the recommendation; I’ve never read Theroux, but I should.


  8. I like your summer reading challenge – plenty of room for changes 🙂 I do recommend Year of Wonders. Loved that book, well the ending not so much but still. I didn’t like Bel Canto but that seems to be one of those either you love or hate kind of books.


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