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Thread: What's on your summer reading list?

  1. #61
    Culture slut geek the girl's Avatar
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    With summer just around the corner, I thought I'd resurrect this thread. I know that my fellow student Critical is as excited as I am as having the time and energy to read more. To some people, the notion of a lit major looking forward to reading more is a strange one but hey, that's me.

    So, tell me. What are my lovely fellow bookworms planning on reading this summer? I have yet to compile a definite list, but I do know that I want to get into Neil Gaiman this summer. I've heard great things about him from phat and SnowflakeGirl, and since we have very similar tastes, I'm sure he'll be right up my alley. I thought I'd start with American Gods and, provided that I like it, move on to its successor, Anansi Boys. Actually, I think this summer will be all about horror/fantasy stuff for me. For some reasons, I always get the urge to be scared in the summertime. Also, I'm considering writing my thesis on contemporary genre literature (horror/sci-fi/fantasy etc), so I can always tell myself I'm doing research...

    Oh what the heck. I'll compile the list here and now, with genre-based categories to boot. There's nothing good on TV tonight, anyway.

    The dark and morbid category

    - House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. I've had several people recommend it to me, and the blurb from Amazon makes me want to read it even more: "Had The Blair Witch Project been a book instead of a film, and had it been written by, say, Nabokov at his most playful, revised by Stephen King at his most cerebral, and typeset by the futurist editors of Blast at their most avant-garde, the result might have been something like House of Leaves." Intriguing!
    - Stephen King's Dark Tower series. Despite being a huge King fan, I've never read what many consider to be his opus magnus. This is a reading project I'm very excited about, especially since the books include references to other King novels. Gotta love metafiction!
    - Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavres by Mary Roach. This nonfictional, slightly morbid book about the afterlife that has received rave reviews. I'm morbid and terrified of death at the same time (go figure), so this will hopefully serve multiple purposes: apart from enlightening and entertaining me, it will be like therapy. Therapy for the price of a paperback - not bad!


    The "Do they live up to the hype?" category

    - On Beauty by Zadie Smith. Confession time. I never got why Zadie Smith gets such amazing reviews. I bought both of her previous novels, White Teeth and The Autograph Man, anticipating a great reading experience. Here's what happened: I couldn't bring myself to cross the 100 page mark. I found both novels to be dull and over-rated and I know I'm not the only one who feels that way. However, her latest effort sounds really interesting so I'm willing to give her a final try before I give up on her altogether.
    - The History of Love by Nicole Krauss and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safron Foer. Another book I picked up from the library. She's married to Jonathan Safron Foer and together, they're hailed as the post-generation X version of Paul Auster and Siri Hustvedt - that is, New York's literary power couple. Seeing how much I love Paul Auster and Siri Hustvedt, I'm curious as to whether Krauss and Safron Foer will live up to the hype.
    - Saturday by Ian McEwan. I picked this up from the library the other day and can't wait to read it. It will be my first Ian McEwan novel - has anybody read any of his work? He's constantly being dubbed the best contemporary British novelist, so I'm very curious to find out if he's as great as his reputation.

    Suspense novels

    - The Eight by Katherine Neville. This one was recommended to me by Critical in one of the book threads. I came very close to reading it back in high school when the librarian (the closest I came to a best friend in high school... I kid, I kid, or at least a little) recommended it to me, but for some reason I forgot all about it until I was reminded of it here. Another reason to love the FORT.
    - The Art of Detection: A Kate Martinelli Mystery by Laurie R. King. FINALLY a new Kate Martinelli mystery! As much as I adore her Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series, I've missed Martinelli. This one, too, deals with Sherlock Holmes, although in a different way from the Russell/Holmes series. It's coming out any day now - I'm psyched!

    Non-fiction

    - The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeanette Wells. I've heard many good things about this autobiography and I like to mix up my summer reading with some non-fiction, so I'll definitely pick this up.
    - Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto by Chuck Klosterman. I've been interesting in this book ever since I saw Seth Cohen read it on an episode of The O.C.. Any friends of Seth Cohen's...

    Authors I plan on exploring

    - Anita Shreve
    - F. Paul Wilson (courtesy of phat )
    - Jodi Picoult
    - Carol Shields
    - Dean Koontz (I've only read Odd Thomas, but I really liked that one)

    Aaand, if I have the time, I'd like to re-read a few Stephen King novels, including The Stand (this time, I'll get the expanded version, so it will be a bit like reading a new book), Bag of Bones and Desperation (so I'll know how the mini series will compare).

    Well, looks like I got my summer covered. How about the rest of you?
    "There's more to life than books, you know, but not much more" (Morrissey)

  2. #62
    Wild thang Rattus's Avatar
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    I have only one particular book planned, and that it Stephen King's The Cell. I bought it in January but decided to save it for my vacation in Cape Cod since this is the first vacation outside of a couple of weekends in Montreal that I've gone on since 1997 and I don't want to be trapped with something horrendous on the beach. I am planning on buying a book which I can never remember the name of when I'm in the book store (or online). It's Canadian and it's from the point of view of an Mennonite or Hutterite girl, or something of that nature. I've heard good things, anyway, and fortunately Mr. Rattus can remember the name. And I have Peter Robinson's new one on hold at the library but there's a good chance I won't be seeing that until late autumn.

    Geek, you will love The Eight if I have anything to say about it. Actually, it came to mind while I read The DaVinci Code (regardless of everyone's ragging on the quality of Dan Brown's book) because of the complex and interesting tale and its myriad historical details. Because I was so fond of The Eight, I read the rest of the author's works but was completely unimpressed. Everything else seemed to be a watered down version of her best work.
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  3. #63
    HBK fan nilesgirl's Avatar
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    I bought this (finally) while I was in TX a few weeks ago. I plan on digging into it very soon. The Purpose Driven Life. I also want to see if I can get through Anna Karinninna
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  4. #64
    Culture slut geek the girl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rattus View Post
    I have only one particular book planned, and that it Stephen King's The Cell.
    I'm almost 100% certain that you'll enjoy Cell. It's a fun, gory read, very reminiscent of old-school zombie movies. When you've finished it, you ought to post your thoughts in the thread we created upon its release. I'd be particularly interested to know how you feel about the ending, since it has divided the readers into two equally vocal groups. I won't say anything else since I don't want to spoil you...

    I am planning on buying a book which I can never remember the name of when I'm in the book store (or online). It's Canadian and it's from the point of view of an Mennonite or Hutterite girl, or something of that nature.
    Sounds interesting! Make sure to post the title and author once you get hold of it. As I mentioned in one of the other book threads a while ago, I'd like to get acquainted with some Canadian writers since everyone I've read so far (Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Ann-Marie McDonald, and Mary Lawson to name a few) has been wonderful.

    Oh, and by the way, I remembered another book I'll try my damndest to find as soon as possible. On the news earlier this evening, there was an interview with Danish author Peter Hoeg, talking about his highly anticipated new novel - the first one for almost ten years. He is the author of Smilla's Sense for Snow, which, besides from being a critically acclaimed international bestseller also generated a rather disappointing movie starring Julia Ormond and a whole new generation of Scandinavian little girls called Smilla. (I even contemplated naming one of my cats Smilla!) I've read and loved all of his novels, but after 1997's Woman and the Ape, it's as if he's been wiped off the face of the earth. Until recently, that is, when he resurfaced with a new novel. I'm thinking of reading it in Danish, which would be a first. Swedish and Danish are fairly similar - about as similar as, say, Spanish and Portugese - and once I'm a qualified teacher, I'll have to teach tidbits of Danish as part of the curriculum. It would be cool to have read something in a foreign language other than English, although I don't really think of English as a foreign language anymore. (Little voice in geek the girl's head: Hey, wasn't this summer supposed to be all about relaxing? )
    "There's more to life than books, you know, but not much more" (Morrissey)

  5. #65
    Wonky snarkmistress Lucy's Avatar
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    Geek, I loved The Eight, and Neil Gaiman (my fave wasn't American Gods, it was Neverwhere -- be sure to get to that one) and King's Dark Tower series.

    I don't have any particular summer reading planned -- I've been doing the occasional book review for the newspaper, and so I wind up getting these free books, most of which I've never heard of. I just finished an interesting one about a changeling boy, and am about to start some gothic sort of suspense thing called The Keep.
    It's such a fine line between stupid, and clever. -- David St. Hubbins

  6. #66
    Picture Perfect SnowflakeGirl's Avatar
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    Funny, aside from his work on The Sandman, American Gods is actually my favorite by Gaiman. But really, he's such a fantastic writer, you can't go wrong.
    Quote Originally Posted by geek the girl View Post
    Also, I'm considering writing my thesis on contemporary genre literature (horror/sci-fi/fantasy etc), so I can always tell myself I'm doing research...
    I'd love to hear more about this, Geek! In college, I majored in literature and culture, and I adore critical analysis of contemporary pop culture. In fact, at school I once took a really fun class in vampire literature. Would love to discuss your thesis!

    Anyway, as for me, I don't have an official summer reading list, but these are some books I recently purchased that are waiting in the wings for me.

    The Prestige by Christopher Priest
    The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke

    Also, I hit the motherlode at a used books store, and purchased a bunch of older books that I always wanted to read for less than the price of one stupid, fancy, coffee bar drink!

    Crime and Punishment - Dostoevsky
    Madame Bovary - Flaubert
    This Side of Paradise - Fitzgerald
    Tropic of Capricorn - Henry Miller (loved Tropic of Cancer)
    Chance - Joseph Conrad

    Then, a dear friend of mine got me the first few Harry Potter books, because she's heard me yammer on about having always intended to read them, but never getting around to it. Now I have to actually get around to it.

    Also, I have had a copy of Dan Brown's Angels and Demons that I've been keeping for my next vacation, because it is a small paperback that is perfect for travel (plus it seems like the perfect "holiday" type of book).

    Oh and finally, during my late spring cleaning, I found a biography on Haruki Murakami I forgot I'd had, Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words, by longtime English translator, Jay Rubin. It will be a nice way to tide over any Murakami cravings that might hit before his new book comes out here at the end of the summer.
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  7. #67
    Culture slut geek the girl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SnowflakeGirl View Post
    Funny, aside from his work on The Sandman, American Gods is actually my favorite by Gaiman. But really, he's such a fantastic writer, you can't go wrong.
    I really enjoyed American Gods (for a longer review, check out the "What are you reading?" thread) and will definitely read more of Gaiman's work. I'm intrigued by his wonderful ability to create a literary universe that is 100% unique and eerily recognisable at the same time. He strikes me as a great visionist, but I have to say that I found the language just a tad... not bad by any means, but it doesn't live up to the amazingly high standard of the premises and overall vision of the novel. For that reason, I'd love to read his graphic novels.


    I'd love to hear more about this, Geek! In college, I majored in literature and culture, and I adore critical analysis of contemporary pop culture. In fact, at school I once took a really fun class in vampire literature. Would love to discuss your thesis!
    Ah yes, vampire literature! Loves it, as Nicole Richie would say. (For some reason, though, I doubt that she gets a lot of reading done. Just a hunch. ) I recently re-read Dracula for uni and while doing so, I came across several interesting academic studies on vampirism. Personally, I find that feminist and postcolonial theory tend to go very well with the notion of vampirism. Have you read Judith Butler's take on it? According to her, Dracula is essentially a story about anti-semitism, and the Dark Lord himself is in fact a jew. It's a well-written and interesting article, and I can see where she's coming from, but her position excludes many other interesting ones.

    I have all summer to decide the subject of my thesis, so I haven't made up my mind completely yet, but I'd love to do something related to mainstream literature and/or pop culture.


    Anyway, as for me, I don't have an official summer reading list, but these are some books I recently purchased that are waiting in the wings for me.

    The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke
    Both books I've been wanting to read for quite a while. Considering that my summer reading list is turning into a major epic, though, I'm not sure I'll be able to read them anytime too soon. I always envisioned Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell as the kind of novel best enjoyed in winter time, preferably in front of a crackling fire. For some reason, I tend to categorise novels according my own very subjective take on which season might be the most appropriate for the overall feel of the novel. Anyone else do this?


    Also, I hit the motherlode at a used books store, and purchased a bunch of older books that I always wanted to read for less than the price of one stupid, fancy, coffee bar drink!

    Crime and Punishment - Dostoevsky
    Madame Bovary - Flaubert
    Dang, you just listed two of my all-time favourite novels! I'd love to hear what you think of them when you're done.


    Oh and finally, during my late spring cleaning, I found a biography on Haruki Murakami I forgot I'd had, Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words, by longtime English translator, Jay Rubin. It will be a nice way to tide over any Murakami cravings that might hit before his new book comes out here at the end of the summer.
    Dahling, your taste is impeccable! I've seen this in several bookstores and have on numerous occasions made a mental note to pick it up the next time in the mood for some non-fiction.

    Ooh, and a new Murakami at the end of the summer? Is it a novel or a collection of short stories? I think my brother, who is a fellow Murakami affectionado, told me something about his next work being a collection of short stories. I could be wrong, though. Regardless, I'm sooo there!

    Looks like you have a great summer ahead of you, m'dear!
    "There's more to life than books, you know, but not much more" (Morrissey)

  8. #68
    Wonky snarkmistress Lucy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by geek the girl View Post
    I have all summer to decide the subject of my thesis, so I haven't made up my mind completely yet, but I'd love to do something related to mainstream literature and/or pop culture.
    I took a "Popular Fiction" class in college, and what I found most interesting (because I hadn't known it before) was that many of the books we consider "classics" now were considered lowly pop-fiction in their day. Like, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. Heck, we now consider "Pamela" a classic and even Austen made fun of it in her day. Compare that to the treatment now of writers like Stephen King -- a wonderful storyteller who critics always seem to deride for not being high-brow Literature.
    I loved that class -- we read a King book, a Harlequin romance, a Western, a detective noir, etc. It was great.
    It's such a fine line between stupid, and clever. -- David St. Hubbins

  9. #69
    Culture slut geek the girl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucy View Post
    I took a "Popular Fiction" class in college, and what I found most interesting (because I hadn't known it before) was that many of the books we consider "classics" now were considered lowly pop-fiction in their day. Like, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. Heck, we now consider "Pamela" a classic and even Austen made fun of it in her day. Compare that to the treatment now of writers like Stephen King -- a wonderful storyteller who critics always seem to deride for not being high-brow Literature.
    I loved that class -- we read a King book, a Harlequin romance, a Western, a detective noir, etc. It was great.
    Yep. That's why I always laugh at pretentious gits who diss Stephen King because they "don't like mainstream fiction" but can't stop talking about the likes of Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, or Honoré de Balzac (who, like Dickens, had his work published in periodicals on a monthly basis which everyone read). It would appear that time, apart from healing all wounds, also has the power of turning a low-brow piece of pop fiction into a timeless classic. Just you wait, Stevie Boy...

    Sounds like a terrific class, by the way!
    "There's more to life than books, you know, but not much more" (Morrissey)

  10. #70
    Black Belt Beauty KarateGirl1387's Avatar
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    Wow, all these books are fantastic reads! (Well, at least the titles I recognize, hehe.) I've already read 7 books so far this summer, but here's the whole list:

    1. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
    2. The Bronze Horseman (Paullina Simons)
    3. The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis)
    4. And Then There Were None (Agatha Christie)
    5. The Screwtape Letters (C.S. Lewis)
    6. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
    7. Brave New World (Aldrous Huxley)
    8. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck) - *Currently reading*
    9. Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen)
    10. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
    11. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoevsky)
    12. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
    13. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
    14. Lust For Life (Irving Stone)
    15. Roots (Alex Haley)
    16. Peter Pan (J.M. Barrie)
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