Summer Reading

What are you all reading this Summer? Any recommendations?

Having decided I really ought to read a few novels again, I’ve recently bought-but-not-started Netherland, by Joseph O’Neill (which I understand is about cricket) and Isle of Dogs, by Daniel Davies (which I understand is about dogging). I’d also like to start on Patrick Cockburn’s Muqtada al-Sadr and the Fall of Iraq soon, but I suspect non-fiction reading will for the foreseeable future be dominated by new academic titles like Terence Irwin, The Development of Ethics, vol.2, “Suarez to Rousseau” and Frederick Neuhouser, Rousseau’s Theodicy of Self-Love, both of which have just been published, hooray.

26 thoughts on “Summer Reading”

  1. For novels, I enjoyed ‘Crusaders’ by Richard Kelly. Non-fiction, the new Barbara Ehrenreich is a good holiday book (I think it is a collection of her columns, so it is easy reading – lots of short chapters).

    I also bought a copy of ‘Nudge’ by Thaler and Sunstein today because it had a picture of a big elephant and a little elephant on the cover.

  2. In San Francisco once upon a time (1999, in fact) I saw a big rhino teaching a little rhino how to be a rhino. They were practicing advancing and retreating along diagonal lines across their pen, nose to nose (or horn to horn, I suppose). It was wonderful.

  3. 2 Coetzee recommendations (if you haven’t already read both): Disgrace; Waiting for the Barbarians

    Furthermore, I expect you might like Kokoro by Natsume Soseki (a turn of the century Japanese novel full of the most exquisite rendering of how that culture perceives melancholy)

  4. I’ve been reading a lot of Dorothy L Sayers novels recently, and recommend them, but that may not be a widely shared view. John Rechy’s very good – mostly gay Los Angeles, but not all..

  5. I started Disgrace once upon a time, but never got especially far into it. Can’t remember why not.

    Why do you think I might like Kokoro (because you think I’d like the exquisite renderings of how that culture perceives melancholy, or for another reason?) and is it a problem that I don’t read Japanese?

  6. Netherland has been on my shelf for 2 months now after James Wood’s near-hysterically good review of it in the New Yorker.

    I think you might be interested in coetzee’s most recent one – ‘Diary of a Bad Year’. Everything he’s written is well worth reading.

    Did you get round to Keith Gessen’s novel yet?

  7. Alex Ross’ The Rest is Noise is proving to be a very enjoyable canter through 20th century classical music – the careful refusal to privilege any particular stream (both Strauss and Schoenberg get praised with eyes fully open to their flaws) is commendable.

  8. Currently the main thing I’m reading is Goodin’s Reflective Demcoracy, although I also have another chapter left to go of Noel Carroll’s The Philosophy of Art and I just started P K Dick’s Dr Bloodmoney for bedtime reading.

  9. Does anybody remember when Molesworth got asked what he’d been reading over the summer? As I recall he’d been reading the Guide to the Pools, but found himself obliged to claim that he’d been reading Swann’s Way. Unfortunately for him the masters didn’t believe such a book existed and was caned as a result.

  10. Currently reading Musil’s ‘A Man Without Qualities’ but I fear it will be more than simply summer reading and will segue into autumn and possibly winter too!

  11. Did you get round to Keith Gessen’s novel yet?

    Yes — I quite enjoyed it, but I didn’t think it was especially good. And I liked it more in that “isn’t it nice to have the 1369 café in a novel” / nostalgia for Boston in the late 1990s kind of a way, rather than because I was especially caught up in the drama of the lives of the three main characters. And bits of it I thought were obvious and/or cheap (the tank showing up in Jenin, the pregnancy at the end, etc.) I was very pleased, though, to see a mention of Lactantius early on, as he was one of the weirder authors we covered in the class I was teaching and that Keith was taking!


    Start of Back in the Jug Agane, by any chance? Wonderful book. (Is your Summer reading any or all of Molesworth, Proust, or the Guide to the Pools?

    (Blissfully, if you google on “swann molesworth proust chiz” it asks you, “Did you mean: swann molesworth proust chez”.)

  12. I’m currently reading HST’s The Curse of Lono, Mark Heim’s Saved By Sacrifice, and plan to reread Uzodinma Iweala’s Beasts of No Nation, which is the best contemporary novel I’ve read in the last few years (probably the best since Amelie Nothomb’s Antechrista, imo).

  13. Is your Summer reading any or all of Molesworth, Proust, or the Guide to the Pools?)

    If it were anything, it would be the last: do people really spend their summer holidays reading novels? But in fact, when I’ve finished Salway’s History of Roman Britain (I have to, I borrowed it off a friend two years ago and I’m visiting her in a couple of weeks) I don’t intend to read any more books in English until my comprehension of Spanish is up to what I consider to be an acceptable standard.

  14. do people really spend their summer holidays reading novels?

    I mean to read a few this Summer, but that’s partly because for many years (c.1993-2002 or so) I only really read novels in the Summer, but then as holiday-taking became weirder (increasingly revolving around trips to archaeological sites in the Mediterranean, where the stuff I’d take to read would be about the stuff I was going to see) I lost even that habit, and I’ve barely read any novels over the last five years. And it’s one I’d like to reacquire, because reading a small number of novels each year is, I think, a Good Thing.

  15. I recently finished, and really enjoyed, Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policeman’s Union: a quite glorious noir patische set amongst Jewish settlers in Alaska. I will also bang the drum for China Mieville and David Peace (Perdido Street Station and GB84, for preference), and Sarah Waters’ The Night Watch is pretty good too.

  16. Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policeman’s Union

    Ah, now there’s one I have read: I’m actually four months late with the review I’m supposed to be writing of it. I suppose if you have a particular liking for pastiche it might be “glorious” – I lost interest some way before the end.

  17. Nathan Englander’s The Ministry of Special Cases is a good book and un-demanding enough to be read on holiday too.

  18. Alex Ross’ The Rest is Noise is proving to be a very enjoyable canter through 20th century classical music – the careful refusal to privilege any particular stream (both Strauss and Schoenberg get praised with eyes fully open to their flaws) is commendable.

    Seconded – a fabulous book. Best read with a crammed 160gig iPod to hand, as I found myself constantly looking up the references.

  19. I’ve just read Q by “Luther Blisset”, which was pretty good. Kind of a anarcho-syndicalist romp through the reformation.

    And my dad reckoned “Reframing the Middle Ages” was excellent.

  20. Im reading two very good novels about very different American clergymen, J.F.Powers’ Morte D”Urban,and Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead.
    On amore professional level, im alos reading Jeffrey Stout’s Democracy and Tradition and TheSelected philosophical Papers of Alasdair Macintyre.

  21. I’ve been going through Sjowall and Wahloo’s Martin Beck series recently. The origional gloomy Scandinavian cop tales, with the added bonus of being written by a pair of didactic Swedish Marxists, a combination that works very well indeed.

  22. Im assuming Ejh’s post was meant for me. I read Stout and Macintyre in my local library, wherte im working ona paper on Macintyres concept of tradition. I read Robinson and Powers in my free time at home.

  23. I just finished David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas and loved it. Guess it depends what kind of thing you go for in a novel – personally, gripping story, sympathetic characters, emotional impact, intelligence, observation and some good jokes. It has all that, and it would be a good book to read in a week or so rather than slowly in 10 minute slots over 2 months as I just did.

    But Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead has been recommended to me in such overwhelmingly glowing terms by about 3 people now that you should maybe go for that instead.

Leave a Reply to ChrisC Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *