Friday, July 1, 2011

5 Books I Want to Read this Summer - Marlo's Picks

Something old, something new, something local and something blue. This familiar and slightly adapted rhyme closely sums up five books that I’m hoping to read this wedding season, a.k.a. summer. These books aren’t about weddings, by the way. I just wanted to use that little rhyme.

Something old:

My two choices in the “something old” category are books that were published in the ’90s ― the 1990s. I realize this is not old in the context of the history of books; however, I thought that I could count them as old since they are the oldest books on my summer reading list. And they are both books that I’ve been meaning to read for a long, long time, but have never gotten around to.

Generation X: tales for an accelerated culture
by Douglas Coupland

Published in 1991, this is the book that made me aware of the term ‘generation x’ (although it was coined nearly 40 years before, in the 1950s). When asked about the book by the Boston Globe, Coupland explained, “I just want to show society what people born after 1960 think about things... We’re sick of stupid labels, we’re sick of being marginalized in lousy jobs, and we’re tired of hearing about ourselves from others.” I consider Generation X to be something of a modern classic.

The Secret History
by Donna Tartt

The Secret History is often compared to Special Topics in Calamity Physics (2006), a book that I am very fond of and have blogged about before. But The Secret History (1992) came first, so I’m compelled to read it. Having read The Secret History’s description, it certainly sounds similar to Special Topics in Calamity Physics. Both books start with the fact that someone’s been murdered and contain a cast of characters that include a tight-knit group of students and their teacher.

Something new:

The Pale King
by David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace died in 2008, so the thought of something new by him chills me a little. At the time of his death, his published novels were The Broom of the System (1987) and Infinite Jest (1996). TIME magazine included Infinite Jest in its All-Time 100 Greatest Novels list (from 1923-2006) and the Los Angeles Times called Wallace “one of the most influential and innovative writers of the last 20 years”. When the world lost Wallace, we lost a great talent indeed.

Then, in 2009, Little, Brown and Company announced they would publish a manuscript of an unfinished novel by Wallace. Using pages and notes Wallace left behind, an editor pieced the manuscript together. The Pale King was published in April of this year.

Something local:

by Kathleen Winter

Kathleen Winter was the big winner at last month’s Atlantic Book Awards, taking home the Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award. Her book Annabel centres around a character whose gender is in question. I loved the book Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides on the same topic, so I’m interested to see how Annabel, set in Labrador, will treat the subject. This book was the only book to be nominated for all three major literary prizes in Canada last year: the Giller Prize, the Governor-General’s Literary Award for English fiction and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Based on these nominations and the award that it won, Annabel sounds very promising.

Something blue:

Mr. Chartwell: a novel
by Rebecca Hunt

Sir Winston Churchill suffered from periodic bouts of severe depression. He referred to his depression as the Black Dog and this novel attempts to personify Churchill’s depression in the character of a black dog named Mr. Chartwell. It’s such an interesting (and slightly puzzling) concept that I’d like to see what the author does with the subject matter.

And now that I’ve told you about my list, I’ve got some reading to do. But first, what are you planning to read this summer?

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