Catherine Owers | Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Finding a copy of Tana French’s first novel on the bottom shelf of my library’s fiction collection was one of the best days of summer. So I’m eagerly anticipating the sixth book in her “Dublin Murder Squad” series, due out in November. Until then, I’ll have to content myself with other titles.
For many people, the word “summer” evokes freshly-mowed grass, melting ice cream cones and mosquito bites. For me, summer means drinking copious amounts of iced tea, stretching out the length of the sofa, reading. When the air conditioning makes the house too cold, I take refuge on an old wicker chair on the patio or brave the spiders in my garage. The largest source of stress in my summer is generally keeping sand and pool water off library books.
An English major to the core, the phrase “summer reading” never struck fear into my heart – or maybe that’s because I was an enormous kiss-ass. I have fond memories of reading the assigned books from my grammar school’s curriculum: “Frindle,” “Kavik: The Wolf Dog” and “Anne of Green Gables” loom large in my recollections of summer. The heat and humidity that characterize New Orleans summers heighten the experience of rereading classics like “To Kill a Mockingbird,” intensifying the setting, or create an experience when reading Irish detective fiction featuring cold, dark alleys, damp quays and misty mountains.
Summer is the best time for reading both highbrow and lowbrow works. My summer reading list usually consists of a smattering of classics that I haven’t already covered in literature classes, rereading all the books in a favorite series (ahem, “Harry Potter”) and new releases. This year, my list includes the Russian greats, such as Anna Karenina, more Dickens, “A Confederacy of Dunces,” Julia Child’s “My Life in France,” all of Ann Patchett’s fiction, more Margaret Atwood, Italo Calvino’s “If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler,” Elena Ferrante’s “Neapolitan” series and “Just My Type: A Book About Fonts.” In terms of new releases, here are eight books I’m looking forward to reading this summer:
May 17, Rivka Galchen: “Little Labors”
Since reading “Atmospheric Disturbances” for my contemporary U.S. fiction class this semester, I’m eager to read more of Galchen’s work, and this new collection of stories, lists and essays promises to be just as delightfully enigmatic.
May 17, Mary Kay Andrews: “The Weekenders”
I’d say Mary Kay Andrews is a guilty pleasure, but I have no guilt whiling away a summer afternoon with Southern chick lit.
May 31, Neil Gaiman: “The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction”
This may be literary blasphemy, but I was one of the few who didn’t adore “The Ocean at the End of the Lane,” but I still enjoy Gaiman’s authorial voice and look forward to this collection.
June 28, Alice Adams: “Invincible Summer”
Alice Adams’ first novel seems very much in the line of Meg Wolitzer’s “The Interestings,” following the journey of four friends over the course of 20 years and perfect for a quiet summer evening.
July 5, Bill Loehfelm: “Let the Devil Out: A Maureen Coughlin Novel”
Since taking a class on detective fiction while studying abroad in Dublin, I’ve been working my way through classic and contemporary mysteries. I haven’t read the earlier works in Loehfelm’s Maureen Coughlin series, but I’m going to do my best to catch up with the series before the new installment arrives.
July 31, J.K. Rowling and Jack Thorne: “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”
The script book for the play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” which is being advertised as the eighth story in the Harry Potter series, isn’t without controversy, but I’m eager to see where Rowling and Thorne take our beloved characters in their adult lives.
Aug. 30, Louise Penny: “A Great Reckoning”
I’m very much looking forward to the newest installment in Penny’s excellent Inspector Gamache series, which has only improved with time.