Summer Preview – The Ms. Barrows Version
As someone who chooses to take the Amtrak train to D.C. in order to pick up five hours of uninterrupted reading, you shouldn’t be surprised by my favorite summer activity. You guessed it. Summer reading. In fact, my childhood competitive spirit shined most brightly when participating in the summer reading challenges hosted by the public library. I shook my 10-year-old fist in anger whenever I visited for weekly updates and found that other children were beating me.
It goes without saying, I was a very, very cool kid.
Featured below are 12 Calarco Library books that I endeavor to read this summer. The list does not include the countless books piled on my nightstand, nor the books I have to read for a few professional-developmenty-type things. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping I can recall the essence of my 10-year-old self, who would easily elbow wee little 8-year-olds when racing for the public library’s C.S. Lewis books. Not the actual elbowing, just the spirit of elbowing…anyway. Here’s the list:
And the Band Played on, by Randy Shilts: The preeminent book on the AIDS epidemic. First published in 1987 and probably still the most important book about AIDS. Dallas Buyers Club made me realize I really should read this book. Really.
Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer: A story set in some dysopian/post-apocalyptic future which features four WOMEN tasked with the mission to explore the cut-off and mysterious region, Area-X? Sign me up.
Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell: For the handful of people who read this blog, you might have gotten the memo that I fell in love with Rainbow Rowell this year. Now, I will finally (hopefully) get around to reading her first book.
The Bees, by Laline Paull: The setting: a beehive. The protagonist: Flora 717, a sanitation worker. The problem: Flora 717’s curiosity, a dangerous trait in a community dictated by the religion of Queen worship. I have wanted to read this book since I read a “sneak peak” review back in April. I tried to buy it at Atticus last week, but they had just sold their last copy. Then I remembered…library kindle! (On Kindle)
The Enchanted, by Rene Denfeld: A death row inmate uses books to re-imagine life beyond the bars, creating a fantastical world and shields himself from a frightening reality. In that reality are a priest and an investigator. Enter: disrupted notions of guilt, innocence, victim, and perpetrator.
Feed, by M.T. Anderson: A YA classic that I am just now getting around to reading. Titus was a regular member of society, taking trips to the moon for spring break and hardly thinking about The Feed. But then his Feed malfunctions and he meets Violet, who fights The Feed and makes Titus wonder if he should fight it too.
Last Night at the Viper Room: River Phoenix and the Hollywood He Left Behind, by Gavin Edwards: I really hope I get around to reading this book. River Phoenix was more than Joaquin Phoenix’s older brother, and by all accounts this bio delves fiercely into the complexities of River Phoenix’s Hollywood reality. (On Kindle)
Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann: Another “book gone by” that I am hoping to reclaim this summer. It is 1974 and a tightrope walker is hanging out between the Twin Towers, which is kind of all I know about this one so far (without looking at the Goodreads bio). And basically, everyone keeps telling me to read this one.
The Magician King, by Lev Grossman: I read The Magicians quite awhile back, and I might have to do a re-read before I pick up The Magician King. I am kicking myself that I didn’t keep up with this trilogy, but I was partially disturbed by The Magicians – not because it is particularly disturbing, but because it was touted as the “adult Harry Potter” books. Quite frankly, the worst thing a magical/fantasy book can be called is the “(fill in the blank) Harry Potter” book. Grossman’s trilogy (as far as I have gotten) is just fine fantasy – there’s not need to inflate any Harry Potter-esque hopes and dreams. It is a disservice to the author and Harry Potter fans alike. Time has passed and I now feel ready to read (and enjoy) Grossman’s trilogy out from under the shadow-y pressure to be the “next Harry Potter”.
Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward: Captured in 12 days and set in coastal Mississippi, Ward won the 2012 National Book award for her story of a motherless family driven together and apart as a building hurricane looms int he background.
Shine Shine Shine, by Lydia Netzer: We got this book and The Age of Miracles at the same time. I obviously picked Miracles, and somehow Netzer’s debut novel got lost in the “to-read” shuffle. Still an enormously appealing plot (Sunny Mann’s quest for perfection and her genius-husband Maxon’s quest for the moon), I have a suspicious feeling this will be a “read in one sitting” kind of book.
The Snow Queen, by Michael Cunningham: I am refusing to read the plot summaries for Cunningham’s latest book. The only thing I know to be true is that I loved The Hours and I will give anything written by Cunningham a fair shot.
You can see my summer reading list on Goodreads.
-Signing off, Ms. Barrows (who cannot wait to read ALL THE THINGS!)