I haven’t quite figured out how to reckon with that last post. I want to reckon with it, and I will reckon with it, but I don’t know how yet. I will keep you posted.
In the meantime, let’s talk about something we can always talk about, in dark days or light.
Let’s talk about books.
Since the semester ended, I have dived headfirst into the glories of the deserted campus library fiction section. Have you ever crept through a campus library after school is out and the undergrads have gone home? Every. book. is. there. It is its own kind of well-stocked miracle.
I also learned, and I tell you this in case you didn’t know either, that there is something at libraries called the “overflow section.” This is where books are temporarily shelved after they are returned, but before they are nestled back into their official places on the main shelves. Things are often slightly out-of-order in the overflow section, but you can find diamonds if you look carefully. Or rather, if you have seen in the catalogue that Lincoln in the Bardo is checked in, and then do not see it in its place, you might find it in the overflow section. You might do a small, but triumphant dance as you clutch it in your arms, holding it up as if it were Simba and the worn carpet were a cliff.
I hope this information is useful to you someday.
Here’s my summer reading:
- Read: George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo (2017)
Run, don’t walk, to your library’s overflow section to find this book. It’s gotten a lot of attention lately, so to be honest, you may have to buy it. Buy it. Borrow it. Don’t steal it, but maybe sit in Barnes & Noble for a few hours until you finish it, and then buy a magazine or a coffee to make it up to Barnes & Noble. It is like nothing I have ever read, and it is so tender and poetic and yet imaginative and at times hilarious that I couldn’t put it down until I had finished. It is about the death of Abraham Lincoln’s son, Willie, and Willie’s subsequent venture into the “bardo,” or the middle place between earth and the beyond. It is fiction, but it make me want to be a better historian. You’ll see why. When you’re done reading, I recommend doing as I am and listening to the audiobook.
2. Reading: Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle (2005)
Add this to the list of books I’m late to. Do you remember the buzz about this book back in 2005? Me too. It took the release of its movie trailer, however, to get me to read it. Don’t be like me. The Glass Castle is a memoir. It can be difficult to read, although it’s clearly, honestly written. Maybe it’s tough to read because it’s so honestly written. It is about Ms. Walls’ childhood, her family’s nomadic life and their dreams. I haven’t finished yet, but I sense a big cry is coming.
3. To read: Elena Ferrante, My Brilliant Friend (2011)
4. To read: Aziz Ansari, Modern Romance (2015)
5. To read: Jill Lepore, Book of Ages: the Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (2013)
6. To read: Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad (2016)
7. To read: Manuel Gonzales, The Regional Office is Under Attack (2016)
8. To read: Paul Beatty, The Sellout (2015)
What are you reading this summer?
Here are some more ideas, if you need them: