Summer reading run amok

On Friday Chris of Wildmoo Books passed through DC and we had a chance to hang out and spend some time at Politics and Prose. It was a lot of fun to catch up with Chris since our last meeting in New Haven in October. And what’s more fun than a trip to the bookstore? Probably a trip to the bookstore with a bookish friend.

In this case it was like going to the grocery store while hungry. Something you just don’t do. With all the talk about summer reading lately and people gearing up for Booker long lists and such and so forth, I had a hard time saying no and even found myself forcing a few books onto Chris.


Recently on The Readers we each chose five books to put on a summer reading list at the request of one of our listeners. One can’t swing a cat without hitting a summer reading list these days, but what makes our list different is that we didn’t try to identify the “it” books of the summer of 2016. Rather we tried to make a diverse list of old and new books that we think would be worthwhile pursuing should one be inclined to do so. With the help of our listeners, we also chose a summer read along book that will be discussed sometime after Labor Day. If you haven’t yet read The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen you have until the first Monday in September to read it and submit your questions and/or comments to be a part of the discussion. For more on the read along, you can check out the website for The Readers. You can also find the summer reading list there.

As for the 14 books I bought on Friday, here is a rundown as to why I couldn’t keep them out of my basket.

  1. Villalobos: Has an expletive-laden opening line similar to the one in Kerry Hudson’s Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-cream Float Before He Stole My Ma. I’ve started reading it and am enjoying it.
  2. Swift: Frances at Nonsuch Book recently posted a picture of five books she thinks might be on the Booker long list. Frances might be the one person who can egg me on to buy books without even being with me. I bought all but one of her five (The Essex Serpent is not out yet in the U.S.)
  3. Tey: People are always telling me to try Tey and this nice edition was half price in the remainder section.
  4. Barnes: I really, really liked The Sense of an Ending and this was also on Frances’ long list stack.
  5. Gattis: One of the books Simon put on his summer reading list. I’ve started reading this one already and like it but think I need to read it in sections almost like a serial feature or television program.
  6. Paterson: What self respecting gay could pass up a novel called Rancid Pansies?
  7. Conley: Also on Simon’s summer reading list. About a young man who enters a pray-the-gay-away “treatment” program. I ended up finding it quite tedious for a number of reasons and tossed it on the DNF pile after about 80 pages.
  8. Nguyen: Duh.
  9. Lee: Picked this one up just cuz and really liked it. Finished it yesterday.
  10. Gyasi: I’ve seen this one around the blogosphere but more than anything I liked the cover. Plus, I have been interested in reading literature by Africans about Africa.
  11. Mahajan: One that I considered throwing in the ring for the summer read along, but it isn’t out in the UK yet. Probably a title I won’t read on an airplane.
  12. DeLillo: Another Frances Booker long list prediction. I gave up on DeLillo about 25 years ago, but decided to give him another shot because Frances has that effect on me.
  13. Chee: Also Frances peer pressure. I read one of his books years ago and only found it okay. I’ve been hearing mixed things about it.
  14. Ford: The combination of the jacket blurb and the half priceness of it made me add this one to the pile.
Image-1 (1)
Chris and I showing off our new copies of The Sympathizer.


The top two are the books I put in Chris’ basket. I’m thinking she will like both.



20 thoughts on “Summer reading run amok

  1. Kateg July 4, 2016 / 9:58 am

    Very nice hauls. I have had Canada on my shelf for years and I pick it up, but then choose something else. I will see how you get along with it. Thanks for guiding my summer reading this year. I put together a list of 10 books with quick descriptions and distributed it to the staff I work with, but I had read most of them, so I was glad you and Simon gave me some other ideas.


      • Kateg July 4, 2016 / 1:48 pm

        This list went out to approximately 80 RNs, NPs, PAs and MDs, only 3 of whom are male.

        Shelter by Jung Yun
        Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
        Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
        The Girls by Emma Cline
        West with the Night by Beryl Markham
        South of Broad by Pat Conroy
        Americanah by Chimimanda Ngozi Adiche
        American Housewife: Stories by Helen Ellis
        The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison
        Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher

        Many of them were brought to my attention by Ann, Michael and Simon.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thomas July 9, 2016 / 4:47 pm

        For some reason it doesn’t let me reply to your reply. I’m a huge fan of Americanah. And if I am not mistaken Simon has even read it. So ha! Chock one up for the guy who only reads old books.

        Ha, ha.

        I love the list and love the notion of worker cohorts reading the same books.


  2. rebeccaecrosby July 4, 2016 / 11:06 am

    This is such a fantastic stack of books! I have so many thoughts and am so excited to hear what you think about these. You (and Frances, collectively) definitely just inspired me to pick up the Swift. And I’ve heard good things about The Association of Small Bombs from a friend I trust so now I’m definitely going to read it!

    The Gyasi is amazing. I think the best book I’ve read since the end of 2014. There are some legit criticisms out there about the end of the book but I don’t think anything distracts from the power of the story and the incredible strength of Gyasi’s writing. And while I am typically not a fan of Ford, I enjoyed Canada quite a lot.

    As discussed on Twitter, I have some thoughts about Queen of the Nights. I also have very, very, very strong thoughts about The Sympathizer, but let’s leave those for the end of the summer ;-)

    Happy 4th of July!!


    • Thomas July 9, 2016 / 4:49 pm

      The thing about the stack is that I have an urge to read them all, right now. I just want to cram them in my head. So far though, I have read three of them and put one aside on my did not finish pile after reading about half of it.


  3. Lisa Almeda Sumner (@bibliolisa) July 4, 2016 / 11:49 am

    Rancid Pansies is almost certainly the best title of all time. The Sympathizer is also on my summer reading list. Unfortunately I’ve been purchasing books at a compulsive and unsustainable rate. This is what happens when teachers are on summer break. Right now I’m rereading Middlemarch, Homegoing is on my list, and possibly The Black Book by Orhan Pamuk. I finished Snow last week and love it.


    • Thomas July 9, 2016 / 4:50 pm

      I am reading Middlemarch for the first time. Well, actually, I’ve read the first 150 pages twice before. This time with the help of an audio version I have made it past that threshold and am now somewhere in the 300s.


  4. BookerTalk July 4, 2016 / 3:37 pm

    this is giving a massive boost to the global reach of your reading


    • Thomas July 9, 2016 / 4:51 pm

      I do like the diversity and newness of it. For some reason I am not in the mood for dusty books these days.


  5. Liz Dexter July 5, 2016 / 3:06 am

    I’ve been not acquiring much recently, which is weird for me. But five books seemed to get into the house last week, so …


      • Liz Dexter July 13, 2016 / 10:50 am

        Hm, let’s see … a biog of Evelyn Waugh and one of Philip Sassoon, Iris Murdoch’s letters, a book about women and sport and one about music journalism. So a mixed bunch – and four brought back from holiday, too (see latest blog post).


  6. Chris July 5, 2016 / 2:34 pm

    I read Brat Farrar this winter, after sitting on my TBR for years. It was fantastic! Hope you find the same!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. July 5, 2016 / 9:07 pm

    Tey is wonderful and Brat Farrar is my favorite of hers.

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

  8. Janet July 5, 2016 / 9:09 pm

    Tey is wonderful and Brat Farrar is my favorite of hers.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Susan in TX July 6, 2016 / 5:22 pm

    Had to search for this and review the comments lest I tell you something you probably already know…I just read Angela Thirkell’s Summer Half (the new Virago Modern Classics edition), which also takes place in Barsetshire, and on page 119 came across a reference to Hogglestock “when it was a very poor agricultural community.” I immediately thought of you. Don’t know if you’ve ever read Thirkell, but I think you would enjoy this one.


    • Janet Mills Elliott July 6, 2016 / 6:02 pm

      Thirkell did not invent the village of Hogglestock. She borrowed it and all of Barsetshire from author Anthony Trollope. I love both authors!


  10. Susan in TX July 6, 2016 / 5:32 pm

    The above comment from me I thought I posted to the post where you explain your blog name change??? Anyway, it was in reference to that.

    As to the book stack above (so much easier to see on the laptop than the phone!), it looks like a great mix. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Homegoing. It’s been on my radar for a little while now. And of course, I have to pop over to Frances’s list and check it out now.
    Happy reading to you!


    • Thomas July 9, 2016 / 4:53 pm

      I’ve got a good feeling about Homegoing. The title itself fascinates me.


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