This list appears on paperbackparis.com:
I’m slightly ashamed to admit that the books on my list are just a taste of the summer stacks spilling over in my bedroom. I’m even more chagrined to admit that I probably won’t make it through half of them in the summer months. But, hey, what’s wrong with being a little over ambitious? Maybe I’ll make it pretty far this year. I hold out hope for the best.
This summer reading list is another eclectic smattering of books comprised of award winners, bookstagram and podcast recommendations, classics I’ve been meaning to read forever, and sequels that I feel obligated to read. Though not included here, I’m even hoping to read the first Game of Thrones book. But, alas, I don’t want to start torturing myself just yet.
My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Ottessa Moshfegh
Synopsis: From one of our boldest, most celebrated new literary voices, a novel about a young woman’s efforts to duck the ills of the world by embarking on an extended hibernation with the help of one of the worst psychiatrists in the annals of literature and the battery of medicines she prescribes.
Thoughts: When I read the description of Ottessa Moshfegh‘s latest, I immediately set it down as a must-read ASAP kind of book. The premise of a young woman shutting herself away from the world in a medicated stupor resonated with a part of me that I think most people of this generation can relate to. On any given day, we submit ourselves to hours of sensory data on social media and the like that it can be all too tempting to simply shut down for a while.
Home Fire, Kamila Shamsie
Synopsis: Isma is free. After years of watching out for her younger siblings in the wake of their mother’s death, she’s accepted an invitation from a mentor in America that allows her to resume a dream long deferred. But she can’t stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London, or their brother, Parvaiz, who’s disappeared in pursuit of his own dream, to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew. When he resurfaces half a globe away, Isma’s worst fears are confirmed.
Then Eamonn enters the sisters’ lives. Son of a powerful political figure, he has his own birthright to live up to—or defy. Is he to be a chance at love? The means of Parvaiz’s salvation? Suddenly, two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined, in this searing novel that asks: What sacrifices will we make in the name of love?
Thoughts: Kamila Shamsie‘s novel just won the 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction, an award bestowed upon one of my favorite books of recent years—The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney. I foolishly believed I could read the longlisted books before the winner was announced last month, but I didn’t even come close. I’m still looking forward to reading all of them, but I am especially excited to see what this year’s winner has to offer.
No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters, Ursula K. Le Guin
Synopsis: Ursula K. Le Guin has taken readers to imaginary worlds for decades. Now she’s in the last great frontier of life, old age, and exploring new literary territory: the blog, a forum where her voice—sharp, witty, as compassionate as it is critical—shines. No Time to Spare collects the best of Ursula’s blog, presenting perfectly crystallized dispatches on what matters to her now, her concerns with this world, and her wonder at it.
Thoughts: When I found out Ursula Le Guin had turned to blogging late in her career, I thought, “someone should collect those into a book.” Turns out someone already did. Edited by Karen Joy Fowler, No Time to Spare shows the author at her best, pondering the ways of the world and her stretch of time in it.
Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman, Sam Wasson
Synopsis: Audrey Hepburn is an icon like no other, yet the image many of us have of Audrey—dainty, immaculate—is anything but true to life. Here, for the first time, Sam Wasson presents the woman behind the little black dress that rocked the nation in 1961. The first complete account of the making of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. reveals little-known facts about the cinema classic: Truman Capote desperately wanted Marilyn Monroe for the leading role; director Blake Edwards filmed multiple endings; Hepburn herself felt very conflicted about balancing the roles of mother and movie star. With a colorful cast of characters including Truman Capote, Edith Head, Givenchy, “Moon River” composer Henry Mancini, and, of course, Hepburn herself, Wasson immerses us in the America of the late fifties before Woodstock and birth control, when a not-so-virginal girl by the name of Holly Golightly raised eyebrows across the country, changing fashion, film, and sex for good. Indeed, cultural touchstones like Sex and the City owe a debt of gratitude to Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Thoughts: Breakfast at Tiffany’s has always had a special place in my imagination solely because of Audrey Hepburn’s performance. It has never been my favorite of her films (it’s a tie between Roman Holiday and Sabrina), but watching her in this role consistently reminds me of just how groundbreaking it was and continues to be. Sam Wasson’s exploration of this time in cinematic history is just the type of book I want to be reading on a lazy Sunday afternoon this summer.
Legendary, Stephanie Garber
Synopsis: After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.
The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.
Thoughts: I had no compunction last year in relaying just how paltry I found Stephanie Garber‘s debut novel compared to her contemporaries in the young adult sphere. That being said, I’m giving the series a second chance if only to see how the story will develop, and, more importantly, because I suffer from the curse of obligation—I must always read sequels.
Conversations with Friends, Sally Rooney
Synopsis: Frances is twenty-one years old, cool-headed, and darkly observant. A college student and aspiring writer, she devotes herself to a life of the mind–and to the beautiful and endlessly self-possessed Bobbi, her best friend and comrade-in-arms. Lovers at school, the two young women now perform spoken-word poetry together in Dublin, where a journalist named Melissa spots their potential. Drawn into Melissa’s orbit, Frances is reluctantly impressed by the older woman’s sophisticated home and tall, handsome husband. Private property, Frances believes, is a cultural evil–and Nick, a bored actor who never quite lived up to his potential, looks like patriarchy made flesh. But however amusing their flirtation seems at first, it gives way to a strange intimacy neither of them expect. As Frances tries to keep her life in check, her relationships increasingly resist her control: with Nick, with her difficult and unhappy father, and finally even with Bobbi. Desperate to reconcile herself to the desires and vulnerabilities of her body, Frances’s intellectual certainties begin to yield to something new: a painful and disorienting way of living from moment to moment.
Thoughts: I am jealous of Sally Rooney. There’s no getting around that fact. At 27-years-old, she has published a widely revered debut novel that has critics thirsting for more. Do I wish it were me? You bet your bottom dollar. Overlooking the green monster of jealousy perched on my shoulder, I’ve always had a keen interest in Irish writers, and Rooney is no exception.
A High Wind in Jamaica, Richard Hughes
Synopsis: After a terrible hurricane levels their Jamaican estate, the Bas-Thorntons decide to send their children back to the safety and comfort of England. On the way their ship is set upon by pirates, and the children are accidentally transferred to the pirate vessel. Jonsen, the well-meaning pirate captain, doesn’t know how to dispose of his new cargo, while the children adjust with surprising ease to their new life. As this strange company drifts around the Caribbean, events turn more frightening and the pirates find themselves increasingly incriminated by the children’s fates. The most shocking betrayal, however, will take place only after the return to civilization.
Thoughts: Harriett Gilbert of my favorite BBC podcast, Books and Authors, says that Richard Hughes’ seminal novel is one of her all time favorites. Reading “classic” novels has always felt essential to me in terms of participating in conversations about literature, but I have certainly lost sight of my goals as new and shinier books come my way. Hughes’ inclusion here is an attempt to remedy that.
Tell Me Lies, Carola Lovering
Synopsis: A thrilling, sexy coming-of-age story exploring toxic love, ruthless ambition, and shocking betrayal, Tell Me Lies is about that one person who still haunts you—the other one. The wrong one. The one you couldn’t let go of. The one you’ll never forget.
Thoughts: I’m not going to lie to you—I took this book recommendation from none other than the greatest of insta sensations, Betches. I don’t even care. Lovering’s debut sounds super relatable and really well-written.
The Only Story, Julian Barnes
Synopsis: First love has lifelong consequences, but Paul doesn’t know anything about that at nineteen. At nineteen, he’s proud of the fact his relationship flies in the face of social convention.
As he grows older, the demands placed on Paul by love become far greater than he could possibly have foreseen.
Tender and profound, The Only Story is an achingly beautiful novel by one of fiction’s greatest mappers of the human heart.
Thoughts: I’m not sure why I keep returning to Julian Barnes’ books. When I was younger, I think I found them profound in a way that made me seem older and smarter to people I wanted to impress. I think I’ve outgrown that phase of my life, but I’ll read his latest novel as a farewell to those times.
The Perfect Nanny, Leila Slimani
Synopsis: When Myriam, a mother and brilliant French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work, she and her husband are forced to look for a caretaker for their two young children. They are thrilled to find Louise: the perfect nanny right from the start. Louise sings to the children, cleans the family’s beautiful apartment in Paris’s upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late whenever asked, and hosts enviable kiddie parties. But as the couple and the nanny become more dependent on each other, jealousy, resentment, and frustrations mount, shattering the idyllic tableau.
Thoughts: There’s nothing better than reading a good psychological thriller during the dog days of summer. I’ve heard nothing but high praise for this novel, which draws on real-life events. Color me creeped out.