Summer reads! Make me feel fine, blowin’ through the jasmine in my mind…. Okay. So that’s not really how the song goes. But the sentiment’s similar; summer reading is some of the best reading you’ll do all year. Whether it’s a mystery serial on the beach, a romance novel in a porch swing, or literary fiction sitting on your couch, in the direct flow of central air conditioning, there’s no more relaxing cerebral exercise to do during our hottest months than reading a great book.
Here’s your opportunity to tell us what you intend to read this summer, and we’ll kick off the list with a few picks of our own. They don’t have to be new books or even light reads; they just have to be books you hope to get to before the autumn leaves begin to fall:
1. The Warmth of Other Suns - Isabel Wilkerson
Almost everyone whose bookish opinions I respect has recommended this to me–and those who haven’t still have it near the top of their own to-read queue. This Pulitzer Prize-winner covers the decades-long migration of blacks from the South to northern and western states and closely covers the lives of three black Americans who soldiered through prejudice, the civil rights movement, and hardship on the road to upward mobility and/or personal peace. At 640 pages, it may take you a month, two, or the whole summer to get through it, but from what I’ve heard, it’s well worth the wait.
2. Gold - Chris Cleave
Slated for July release, this third novel by British author Chris Cleave is slated to coincide with this summer’s London Olympics. It follows the lives of two friends and rivals as they compete against each other for the gold in track cycling. Since I’m a big fan of Cleave’s writing (even if his most acclaimed work, Little Bee, was problematic for me), I’m really looking forward to this one.
3. Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
Released just a few days ago, this murder mystery centers on a trouble marriage in the wake of the wife’s disappearance on the couple’s fifth anniversary. It’s been described as taut, creepy, and “unputdownable,” which makes it a great, quick, engrossing read for the summer months.
4. Home - Toni Morrison
You may’ve been camped out outside Barnes and Noble when this book dropped this month and now you’re wondering why in the world everyone hasn’t read it yet. But for those of us who’re a bit behind the bandwagon, Morrison’s latest novel, about a Korean War vet struggling to make sense of the world and himself after front-line battle, is being called one of her best. Pick it up this season.
5. The Devil in Silver - Victor Lavalle
Every Victor Lavalle book is a different kind of thrill ride, so I’m really looking forward to his latest, due out on August 21. The novel follows, Pepper, a man who isn’t mentally ill, but is spending time in a mental institution for a crime he’s unsure he committed. While there, a beast–the titular devil in silver–attacks him and afterward, he rallies three other mental wards to help him find out what the creature is and why it’s out to get them, without turning on each other (or themselves) in the process.
What will you be reading this summer?