Summertime and the reading is easy.
Some of my favorite things about summer come in pairs: peach + daiquiri, beer + pong, summer + reading.
Summer is probably the most celebrated time to read, partly because it can be done anywhere in good weather, but mostly because there’s a little extra time to do it. If you're still searching for that faithful beach buddy, no worries, brah, I’ve made a short list of popular reads – some new, some old – and paired them up with a few bestsellers of our own. Enjoy!
If you’re into short stories that pack a wallop, Karen Russell is the heavyweight champ. Although her stories appear normal from the outset – a family travels across the American west in their covered wagon, a group of girls are sent to live in an orphanage – I’m always surprised by how Russell transfigures a mundane telling into a rich and magical experience. Suddenly, you realize the father, a half-man-half-buffalo, is hauling the family’s wagon and that the young girls were sent to the orphanage to reject the werewolf ways of their parents and become normal human beings.
Russell’s second collection of stories, Vampires in the Lemon Grove, extends her ability to weave morality and coming-of-age tales with themes like science fiction, fantasy and romance. One story takes place in 19th-century Japan at a silk factory with poor working conditions where the female workers have partly metamorphosed into silkworms. Another follows two ancient lovers with an undeniable thirst for blood that can only be satiated by their thirst for one another (and lemons). Each of the eight stories is a shimmering, ghostly bubble – it takes precious moments to pop, but they stay with you for a long time.
Sweetbitter has been highly anticipated novel since it was announced last year. The cover with its grease pencil scrawl and tidy shattered glass evokes a good bit of book lust, but the reviews are in and they are a mixed bag. Here’s the synopsis:
Twenty-something Tess moves from the heartland U.S.A. to New York City to officially start her life. When she arrives, she gets a job in a fancy restaurant in Union Square, becomes obsessed with food and falls in love.
The positive takeaway from Stephanie Danler’s debut novel is the setting. There could be worse places to set your story than an insomniatic metropolis. Also, if you’ve ever worked in the service industry, you’ll understand and appreciate the glimpses into life in the front-and-back-of-houses as well as reminisce in the late nights and dark holes you fell into after a shift.
The romance – with both dude and food – were Twilight-level at best, but still drummed up some of those high school butterflies.
All in all, this book may leave the reader’s mouth a bit like the title, but hey, there’s a market, right? Plus, it’s summer – indulge a little.
Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance has been on my list since its release. A year later and it’s in paperback, and still relevant af.
What turns me on most about Modern Romance is that it’s not just one thing. Working alongside American Sociologist and New York University Professor, Eric Klinenberg, Aziz has launched a humorous (and serious) investigation into dating in the technological age.
I mean, technology is a complicated beast and with it comes all these new hurdles.
“Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?” “Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods? Combos?!” “My girlfriend just got a message from some dude named Nathan. Who’s Nathan? Did he just send her a photo of his penis? Should I check just to be sure?”
Obviously, establishing a strong sense of self-love is important before delving into any relationship, but when it comes to navigating the electronic waves of emotion, I recommend Modern Romance.
If you decided to pick up Sweetbitter for the food writing aspect – Phogettaboutit!
Lucky Peach is probably the best food writing and lifestyle magazine on the market today. It’s a quarterly publication so every turn of season you can expect new themes, essays, art, photography and recipes. This past spring was the “Versus Issue” which pitted some of your all-time favorite foods, places and ideas against each other: San Francisco vs. New York, Perception vs. Reality, PIZZA VS. BURRITO?!
Summer 2016 is all about the pho, baby. The history, a breakdown of the ingredients, the best places to slurp it down – it’s all there. Not to mention the writing is punchy, the recipes are easy, but not basic, and the photography and art are always bad ass.
If you’re not a book lover, but still looking for something tasteful and fun, snag this mag.