13 August 2011

summer reading list.

Last summer my extra-curricular reading list was relatively straight forward: I read Updike's Rabbit tetrology, an experience that was beautiful and worthwhile and easy to get sentimental over in contrast to my vigorous schedule of watching The Wire and trying to crack the scholarship on moderate Republicans, which I thought I wanted to do m dissertation on (oh how things change!). This year, following the disaster of my comps and the trauma of such gluttonous and deliberate reading, I just started loving on books again and let my list emerge organically.

Here's what it became:
Bossypants by Tina Fey
The first book I read this summer, I think the weekend when I should have been preparing for my oral exams. It was anti-climactic but a nice way to transition from crazy town into summer sloth.

Ten Little Indians by Sherman Alexie
This was actually for work. I knew I wanted to discuss Alexie in my Race and Ethnicity class because he is from Washington. Also short stories are my favorite type of literature. These stories were amazingly satisfying. I think this was the only piece of literature that I started and finished while I was in Washington, which is a little bit disconcerting considering how long I was there.

Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth
Pulled this one off my roommate's shelf. I seem to remember my brother reading it in college. This is geeky, but it was made more interesting to me by both the introduction to Jewish culture that has characterized my 2 years and Philly and reading Canuto's The Ungovernable City last summer, because who doesn't love John Lindsay

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
An interesting compliment to the identity issues of the Roth book. I cried at the end, the sadness of the main character was just so deep. A quick and worthy read selected because I had really enjoyed Ten Little Indians and this book won the National Book Award.

Wifey by Judy Blume
I read this book after reading Rich Juzwiak's post "You should read Wifey". The writing is hilarious and Blume's story invoked for me, a female narrated Updike story of suburban discontent. This book was funnier after reading Portnoy's Complaint because now my summer reading list has this weird comic New Jersey thread running through it.

I Don't Care About Your Band by Julie Klausner
Thanks again to my roommate, I now diligently listen to Julie Klausner's How Was Your Week podcast. I love Klausner's sense of humor, but I was kind of terrified that I would hate this book, as dating memoirs or commentaries sometimes promote really, really fucked up ideas about relationships that I always take more seriously than those that emerge from mid-century male writers or things that I say at happy hour after a couple of beers (double standard!). But Klausner dances gracefully through the minefield of possible terrible things that could be said, and the book winds up being this really wonderful gift from a cool older sister who is all about being real and takes the ridiculous of one's 20s in stride. I'm rambling here, but of all the books I've read this summer, I will probably buy a few copies of this book to give as gifts because I think it is wonderful and I want to be like Julie Klausner when I grow up. As a memoir, it is much better than Bossypants.

In progress:
Operation Shylock: A Confession by Philip Roth
I have been slowly, slowly inching through this one. It's postmodern! It takes a lot of focus. I have read several other books since I started it. Another one from my roommate's shelf.

Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
As I mentioned in my post yesterday, this is a classic that I was kind of embarrassed about neglecting. I felt like I had to read it after reading Wifey and I am really glad I did. Again, with Portnoy and Wifey, it's as much about Northeastern Jewish culture as it is about sex and relationships and inner life. It is a magnificent primary source from the 1970s. Taking into account everything I've read this summer, Isadora Wing might be my favorite character so far.

What are you reading this summer?

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