Heading on vacation soon? Or just retreating inside to read on these hot days? Our staff love to read and we’re happy to offer some of their suggestions for your summer reading list.
Customer Relations Representative Camille Wright recommends Julia Walton’s Words on Bathroom Walls. “This is a young adult novel bringing awareness to mental illnesses and warming hearts with an interracial love story. Adam’s journey sheds light on what it might be like to deal with the diagnosis and symptoms of schizophrenia as a teenager in high school. As he begins his junior year at a new school, St. Agatha’s Catholic School, he attempts to keep his schizophrenia a secret from his classmates and friends. A clinical trial medication helps him determine if people, objects, and voices are real or hallucinations but the secret becomes harder to keep once the medication begins to fail. Adam’s story is told through his coping mechanism – extremely honest, sarcastic, and funny journal entries to psychiatrist.”
Journals Marketing Manager Jocelyn Dawson says, “If you enjoyed the television series Big Little Lies, check out Truly Madly Guilty, also written by Liane Moriarty. Moriarty is an Australian author with a gift for compelling plots (crucial for summer reading) and realistic characters. I found myself still thinking about the people in the book days after I finished it.”
Editor Elizabeth Ault’s summer reading is Lesley Nneka Arimah’s What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky. She says, “I’d slept on the collection, which came out last spring and is now out in paperback, because I’m not normally a fan of short stories, but hearing a couple of the pieces from this book on LeVar Burton’s podcast intrigued me. I’m finding a lot of literary fiction novels too heavy right now and Arimah’s stories, blending Nigeria, Minneapolis, family, work, romance, and an occasional dose of magical realism, all framed with a wry sense of humor are hitting the spot. The stories are deep and wise, but also super funny and just the right length (which means they sometimes feel too short).”
Journals Publicist and Exhibits Coordinator Katie Smart also recommends a story collection: You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld. “Much like everything else that Sittenfeld has written—I couldn’t put it down. Each short story in this book is linked to a game that two characters play in a story in the collection. The “You Think It, I’ll Say It” game is all about passing judgement on people from observation only, not from actual interactions. Time and again we see the main characters of each short story building false narratives and limiting beliefs in their mind (and in many cases becoming consumed by them) before discovering that all along things weren’t as they had initially seemed. Sittenfeld is an excellent storyteller, and each set of characters and situations is unique and refreshing. I appreciated her attempts at humanizing her characters while also unapologetically displaying their flaws. This collection was so good that I found myself quickly starting the next story, even when I intended to set the book down for the day.”
Senior Project Editor Charles Brower is looking forward to reading: Flash: The Making of Weegee the Famous, by Christopher Bonanos, the first full-length biography of the great noir photographer (“If I can hold off a month before digging into it, he says.) “Probably my most eagerly anticipated novel of the year, Rachel Kushner’s The Mars Room, in which the main character is serving two consecutive life sentences in a California women’s prison for killing a man that was stalking her. Perfect for the beach!”
Publicity and Advertising Manager Laura Sell suggests a beach read that actually takes place at the beach: The High Season by Judy Blundell. She says, “This is a gossipy book poking fun at the super-rich who head for the Hamptons every summer and a fun skewering of the art world and its rich board members whom many nonprofit toilers will recognize. Suspenseful and well-written, I breezed through it in two days.”
Editorial Associate Sandra Korn says, “I’ve been listening to Autumn Brown and adrienne maree brown’s podcast about apocalypse called How to Survive the End of the World (my summer listening recommendation!) and thinking a lot about the role of science fiction in imagining different futures. So I’m reading Terry Bisson’s 1988 utopian novel Fire on the Mountain. PM Press published a new edition in 2009 with a powerful introduction from Mumia Abu-Jamal. The story is set in 1959 in Nova Africa, the independent socialist country that was founded after John Brown and Harriet Tubman led a successful raid on Harper’s Ferry. Nova Africa is about to make its second Mars landing and one of the main characters, a teenager named Harriet Odinga, has incredible space-age ‘living shoes’ from Africa that conform to her feet as she wears them.”
Copywriter Chris Robinson also suggests some speculative fiction, but leans toward the dystopian: “Venusia by Mark von Schlegell is one of the most absolutely bonkers books I’ve read. Imagine China Mieville and Jean Baudrillard getting really stoned and co-writing a postmodern dystopian sci-fi pulp novel: set in a 23rd century totalitarian colony on Venus where the residents only eat hallucinogenic flowers, sentient plants are telepathic, and a junk dealer, psychiatrist, and secret agent explore the meanings of reality, perception, and consciousness. At least that’s what I think is going on.”
Project Editor Sara Leone says she read Palisades Park by Alan Brennert a few years ago and loved it so much she recently re-read it. “The author evokes Dickens in his detailed descriptions of daily life and dreams from the 1920s through the 1970s. The novel has a broad range of characters, including wanderers willing to take on any job to survive the Depression, women dreaming of daring careers like high diving, courageous citizens battling to end segregation in swimming pools, and of course the workers in the park whose lives connect and change with each new summer season. Salt water, New York/New Jersey culture, and the evolving perception of amusements in America are the backdrop. Plus it’s a fun read if, like me, you were a kid hearing the Palisades Park jingle on the radio every summer on the NY stations!”
Stay cool and happy reading!