Top Five: Best of My Summer Reading
Recently, Tom and I watched High Fidelity . . . again. It's one of our favorite movies, and we've watched it many, MANY times over the years. (There are very few movies I can watch over and over again. High Fidelity is one of them. If you haven't seen it - or haven't seen it in a while - I highly recommend it.) In the movie, the main character - Rob (played by John Cusack) - owns a record store and is working through a recent breakup with his longtime girlfriend, Laura. Rob summarizes pretty much everything in his life with Top Five lists.
Thus . . . my inspiration for today.
Top Five: Best of My Summer Reading
I started my summer reading in a strong way, with Normal People by Sally Rooney. Now I know this one won't be for everyone, but if you like spare, witty writing and well-done character studies (but . . . not a whole lot of action), this one might be for you. I loved it, and found it to be heartbreaking and authentic.
Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips is a compelling story told in a unique style -- spreading different characters’ voices and points of view across a 12-month period of time. I very much enjoyed the structure and style of this book – it reads like a brilliant, interconnected short story collection (think There There, Winesburg, OH, Olive Kitteridge, or Reservoir 13). If you like that kind of structure, this might be a great book for you, too.
During the summer, I tend to pick at least one book to re-read -- AND I also read at least one big, sprawling epic. Beach Music by Pat Conroy checked both those boxes for me! I initially read Beach Music back in 1995 when it first came out. I remember lugging the beast of a hardback around with me when my kids were very young . . . Anyway. Re-reading it this summer did not disappoint. I was, once again, moved to tears by this sweeping tale of forgiveness and reconciliation set in Rome and the South Carolina Lowcountry. (And if you haven't read Pat Conroy, you really ought give one of his books a try.)
I really don't know how to describe Lanny by Max Porter . . . except to say it may be one of the most perfect books I've ever read. It's compact, completely unique, creative, mystical and so engaging that I sat and read it in one sitting. (Which is not that hard to do, as it is pretty short.) There is just . . . a lot going on under the surface in this one. If you liked the "experimental" style of Lincoln in the Bardo, you might enjoy Lanny, too. (And I recommend reading the actual book instead of listening -- because the physical book is a visual treat and adds to to overall effect of the story.)
I just managed to squeak in reading Inland by Téa Obreht over Labor Day weekend, so I ended my summer reading on a high note. This one was rather a slow burn for me, and it did take a fair amount of attention while reading. Totally worth it though! There are two storylines that spiral in seemingly disconnected ways throughout the novel. . . until they DO connect in a most magical way, creating a wholly satisfying ending. Give it a try (especially if you liked Téa Obreht's previous novel, The Tiger's Wife) -- but you might want to keep a glass of water nearby for sipping-while-reading.
If you want to see what I'm reading now, or check out my recent reviews on Goodreads, just check out the sidebar here on my blog. You can find me here on Goodreads.
How about you?
What books would make it to your Top Five list of summer reading?
Beach Music... such an incredible story. I have been going back and forth of the Sally Rooney book, but your review makes me think I should try it!
As for my summer top five:
1. Spring: A Novel
2. The Milkman
3. The Tiger's Wife
5. The Nickel Boys
Posted by: Kat | 09/13/2019 at 09:20 AM
I love Nick Hornby and High Fidelity, but have never seen the movie; I need to look for it! I've been in search of Lanny since you first reviewed it, but am having no luck with libraries, so I might just have to buy it. My summer top five (in no particular order):
2. Ask Again, Yes
3. State of the Heart
4. Olive, Again
5. The Great Believers
Posted by: Bonny | 09/13/2019 at 09:57 AM
I really enjoyed Inland & Lanny and I look forward to reading Disappearing Earth. Here are my five favorites:
1. The Murmur of Bees
2. A Prayer for Owen Meany
3. An Orchestra of Minorities
4. The Paper Garden
5. Dr. Zhivago
Posted by: Debbie | 09/13/2019 at 10:15 AM
I surprised myself with how much I read this summer (though there are still many more I want to read). I guess if I had to pick a top five, it would be these books:
1. Maybe You Should Talk to Somebody
2. A Fatal Grace (Gamache #2)
3. When Breath Becomes Air
4. The Cruelest Month (Gamache #3)
5. The Goldfinch
Posted by: Sarah | 09/13/2019 at 10:42 AM
I love the book, and I like the movie except I dislike John Cusack because he said something really rude about a friend of mine at a Cub's game once (she overheard). So that always sticks in my head when I see him (sorry Cusack fans!).
1. Confessions of a Bookseller
2. The Last Book Party
3. The Psychology of Time Travel
4. The Marriage Plot
5. The Gifted School
Posted by: kim in oregon | 09/13/2019 at 10:53 AM
Hmmmmm, my 5 would be:
The Salt Path
The Black Tulip
The Zookeeper's Wife
Posted by: Vera | 09/13/2019 at 05:47 PM
I agree with your first two, as they were top of my summer reading list, too. I have Lanny on hold at the library and I liked Inland, but didn't love it. You're so right about keeping water nearby, the desert was relentless.
Posted by: margene | 09/13/2019 at 08:37 PM
Playing catchup tonight - first - I love your socks (also I kind of like pooling and I can't imagine wearing hand knit socks in anything other than Uggs or slippers :-) ... my summer reading was fantastic - but mostly because of the non-fiction. I have yet to find this year's 5-star fiction book ... if you care to play a little What Should I Read Next with me, my last 5-star book was Circe, before that was Paris in the Present Tense and before that Gentleman in Moscow. I have been enjoying a number of really good books - just finished There There, the latest Jackson Brodie and I've started the Shetland Series. But really good is not quite as good as Amazing! I have Lanny on hold. and Beach Music is on my all-time favorites list if that helps. no pressure ;-)
Posted by: Mary | 09/13/2019 at 09:54 PM
Oh, Beach Music. Such a beautiful book and I love Pat Conroy. I also really enjoyed Lanny. Normal People is on my list.
Posted by: Carole | 09/14/2019 at 07:46 AM
I enjoyed Where The Crawdads Sing, The Samurai's Garden (a reread) and Wade in the Water. Looks as if your list had some good summer reading too.
Posted by: Jane A. Wolfe | 09/15/2019 at 04:33 PM
Well, I've finished reading 7 books for the year, so far (working on 8 and 9)! I'll never get to them all, but you've helped add to my list.
Posted by: Vicki | 09/16/2019 at 02:11 PM