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?