Summer is my favorite time to read. You can sit outside in the sun by the lake, on the beach, in a hammock—whatever suits you—and just read for hours on end. Every summer I go through books like crazy, especially now that I’m in college and don’t get the time during the school year to read like I used to. So to plan ahead, I made a list of some of the books I’d like to take on this summer. I tried to mix classics with contemporary, some repeats with new bestsellers, so it’s not a cohesive list with a common theme. I have Vonnegut and Hemingway, Salinger and Plath. Some poetry by Richard Siken. Jandy Nelson’s bestseller. Cartoons illustrating how complicated life is. They’re simply books I want to read (again, in some cases).
- Crush, Richard Siken — a repeat, but a short poetry book that captivates; winner of the 2004 Yale Series of Younger Poets
- The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger — another repeat, but one I’ve been waiting to return to
- The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath — a new one for me
- Dirty Pretty Things, Michael Faudet — contemporary poetry, short and sweet
- I’ll Give You the Sun, Jandy Nelson — another repeat, but perfect for the summer
- The Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut — I’m a big fan of Vonnegut, as ridiculous as he is, and this is one I haven’t gotten to yet
- It’s All Absolutely Fine, Rubyetc. — witty illustrations and some stories (the title is why I bought it)
- Algedonic, r.h. Sin — another contemporary poet
- The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway — one I’ve been waiting to read all year
- Whisper to Me, Nick Lake — just finished this one (expect a post soon!), a Michael L. Printz Award-winning author
Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman.
Though I (shamefully) saw the movie before I read the book, Call Me By Your Name is a beautifully emotional story full of imagery both on and off the screen. Set during the summer in a small town in Italy, Call Me By Your Name tracks Elio’s complicated emotional relationship to a young American professor, Oliver, who’s staying for six weeks with the family to work on his book with the help of Elio’s father. Elio, seventeen, tries to figure out Oliver’s casual bravado, his simultaneous push-and-pull, as the days run into one another with morning jogs, bike rides to town, soft-boiled eggs, and endless hours under the Italian sun. There is a connection between Elio and Oliver, one that needs no words to be communicated. Yet Elio holds on to the ecstasy of pining as he bounces by the day, the hour, the minute, between hope and despair. Their story shows what it means to be truly intimate with another, and what it means to embrace yourself and life without shame.
The film was more than deserving of its Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and that’s being said with having watched the movie first. The imagery in the book is rich and sensual, and the movie interprets it perfectly and gorgeously. Elio and Oliver’s story is set on a backdrop of vibrant life, which comes through in both versions. I highly recommend watching the movie after (or before) reading the book. It’s a truly beautiful film with excellent music that remains true to the story (though the film spins the ending a bit), with phenomenal acting by Timothee Chalamet and real-life-Ken-doll Armie Hammer. Both the book and the movie are definitely for a more mature audience, as everything is quite adult and explicit. All beautifully written, but not much is left to the imagination. That being said, I think Aciman has created a tragic story about first love and its subsequent loss that will resonate with many.
One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
A quick and indulgent read, One of Us is Lying follows the murder mystery of high school student Simon, who died in detention with four other students present. But Simon was the head of the school’s gossip app, which was due to share secrets from all four of these students — Bronwyn, Cooper, Addy, and Nate — the next day. There was motive, there was means, but there is no confession. The mystery spirals like a Christie novel, leaving you grasping for answers only to take them away until the end. Relationships get complicated, more secrets get spilled, and eventually the truth gets told.
I recommend for a day trip on a bus or a rainy weekend, because once you start you won’t want to stop. One of Us is Lying flies, begging you to find out who killed Simon before you’re told, but never giving enough hints to get there too quickly. It’s a sort of high school spin on Murder on the Orient Express which promises to hold until the end.