Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Five Books I Want to Read This Summer - Kristina's Picks

For me summer is reading season (well, okay, every season is reading season but summer is even more so). It's a time when I normally have a great pile of books on the nightstand and a long list of others that I want to get to soon. I checked in with the bloggers here at the Reader and many of them are the same way, and we've all got a few books that we're really excited to find a sunny afternoon to curl up with this summer. Sometimes they are brand new titles, others are recent ones we somehow missed, or classics we've always wanted to get to.

Over the next week or so we'll be devoting some of our posts to telling you about the books that have caught our attention for this summer. Perhaps one will interest you as well - or feel free to include in the comments what you're excited about this summer.

I'll get started with 5 books that I'm planning on reading this summer:

The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano: I can't even exactly remember what it was that turned me on to this book. I suspect it was one of the following: it's a first novel, it was a bestseller in Europe, it's been translated (apparently exquisitely) from Italian, the author is also a mathematician, it's about a deep friendship between two lonely people and has been compared to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time for its insight into a person's inner world.

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann: this book was getting great reviews that captured my attention even before it won the National Book Award last year. Set in New York City in 1974, it opens on the day that Philippe Petit made his infamous tight rope walk between the towers of the World Trade Center buildings. Having recently seen Man on Wire, the documentary film about Petit's walk, I am even more interested in how this bit of history plays out in the novel. But mostly I'm just excited about a novel that has a vivid NYC setting.

Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower: another from last year that got great reviews (including being named one of the NYTimes 100 notables for the year). I've been enjoying short stories lately, and this collection mostly focusing on life in contemporary America struck a chord with me. Publisher's weekly said of the book: "Tower's uncommon mastery of tone and wide-ranging sympathy creates a fine tension between wry humor and the primal rage that seethes just below the surface of each of his characters."

Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: a road trip with David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky: I sort of feel like I'll find any way to mention David Foster Wallace on this blog. Last summer I mentioned taking part in Infinite Summer (a summer long event where people around the world read his novel Infinite Jest), I've mentioned him in a post about tennis books (more Infinite Jest), in one about the MacArthur Fellowships and one about math. Clearly I'm a fan and like many of his fans was shocked by his suicide in 2008. So, when a new book comes out about him, I take notice. This one is comprised of conversations between DFW and Lipsky that took place in 1996 in preparation for an article that Lipsky was supposed to do on Wallace for Rolling Stone magazine.

The Man Who Ate the World by Jay Rayner: I am a big fan of the TV shows Top Chef and Top Chef Masters, and watching it over the last few years I've been introduced to British food critic Jay Rayner as a judge on those shows. Each week he's introduced as the author of this book which documents his travels around the world experiencing gastronomical delights. Surely to include his dry wit and extensive knowledge of the food world, this feels like perfect summer reading. (I have to say, I recently read Gael Greene's Insatiable through exactly the same motivation—Greene is also a Top Chef judge—and it was an amazing glimpse into the culinary world, complete with world travel, social gossip and juicy details of Greene's love life and a rollicking good read).


  1. Good picks, Kristina! The Man Who Ate the World is on my TBR -- it sounds fantastic.
    I am reading Following Polly by Karen Bergreen and I have been blown away. Imagine a gene-spliced Bridget Jones and Sam Spade in equal measures. A hysterically funny, true-to-form detective novel.
    I write for The Current Reader, which does reviews and interviews for the best new books on the market. If you have any suggestions for new books, I'd love to see your picks.
    Great post!

  2. I have just finished Let the Great World Spin. It surpassed all my expectations. I didn't want it to end.

  3. We're getting ready to put together our picks for this summer and I've been revisiting this post. Have to say that The Man Who Ate the World was a great summer read (as was Insatiable which I also whipped through). And I also agree with Mary that Let the Great World Spin was an amazing novel. So pleased to see that it just won the Dublin IMPAC award - well deserved.