Summer Reading 2015

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Between the Acts, by Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf’s last novel, left a complete manuscript, but without final revisions. It’s about a sunny day in the country (yes, an entire novel over the course of one day; that’s Woolf for you).  The villagers have gathered to perform the annual pageant on the history of England, but as the story of England is told, so are the villagers’ stories.

The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

I’ve never read any Steinbeck, can you believe it?  Not even Of Mice and Men in high school.  I thought I’d start with his masterpiece.

Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer

I’ve read almost all of Krakauer’s work except for this one, which I’ve heard is the best.  It’s his first-hand account of the Mt. Everest Disaster of 1996, in which 8 climbers were killed. The movie version comes out in September.

The Lost Continent, by Bill Bryson

My buddy Bill Bryson takes a road trip through small-town America.  Wish he had invited me along …

Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, by Maria Konnikova

This was an impulse checkout at the library.  I like the idea of teaching oneself how to observe, organize one’s thoughts, and, as Konnikova puts it, “upgrade the mind.” Even if this book only helps me to recall math formulas for the GRE, I’ll consider it a worthwhile read.

Blindness, by José Saramago

Blindness won the 1998 Nobel Prize for literature.  The premise: an epidemic of blindness strikes the world.  Chilling, but intriguing.  Intriguing because it’s chilling.  Chilling because why is an epidemic intriguing?  Okay, I’ll stop.

Preserving Memory: The Struggle to Create America’s Holocaust Museum,
by Edward T. Linenthal

I picked this up after taking a spectacular tour of the Holocaust Museum during which the docent explained that the museum was purposefully designed without obvious pointers or directions or signs for visitors’ navigation.  The idea was to create an experience for visitors akin to the experience of the concentration camps: confusion, loss of control, helplessness. Powerful, isn’t it?  I’m eager to learn more about the thought and planning that went into the museum.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon

Synopsis:Joe Kavalier, a young Jewish artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdini-esque escape, has just smuggled himself out of Nazi-invaded Prague and landed in New York City. His Brooklyn cousin Sammy Clay is looking for a partner to create heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit America – the comic book. Drawing on their own fears and dreams, Kavalier and Clay create the Escapist, the Monitor, and Luna Moth, inspired by the beautiful Rosa Saks, who will become linked by powerful ties to both men. With exhilarating style and grace, Michael Chabon tells an unforgettable story about American romance and possibility.”

 The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton

This book holds an odd place in my heart as the book I was craving while bogged down in the final weeks of college.  And then as the book I ignored post-graduation because it’s thick and mysterious.  I think it’s time I gave it a try.

Catton won the 2013 Booker Prize for The Luminaries, making her the youngest-ever winner.

Synopsis:It is 1866, and young Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men who have met in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events: A wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely ornate as the night sky. Richly evoking a mid-nineteenth-century world of shipping, banking, and gold rush boom and bust, The Luminaries is a brilliantly constructed, fiendishly clever ghost story and a gripping page-turner.

Do you make an annual summer reading list?  What’s on it this year?

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