So I’ve stumbled across this thing called a “writing meme” – I can’t find a definition or a site that compiles a list of them in one place. But, they are essentially trending writing prompts. The first one I found, while perusing other writerly blogs, was Top Ten Tuesdays, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.
I think I may try to participate fairly consistently. This week’s assignmenat is:
Books to Read By the Pool/At the Beach
But here’s the thing… when I’m at a beach or by a pool, I am not trying to read a book. I am in the water — trying handstands or floating on my back or conductng swim races. So, there are honestly no books I’d read in that situation. So instead, here is a list of books I would read en route to the beach or pool. Which is basically a list of books I’d like to read this summer.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
I am almost finished reading this book. My reading buddy selected it as the book for June and WHAT A SELECTION! We cannot resist texting each other throughout but I am excited to better discuss it as soon as we both finish. I don’t think I have ever read a book that dives into the various depths of male intimacy like this. There is trauma amongst these pages, and a heaviness of horror. But there is also laughter and friendship and love. This is masterfully written and beautifully done.
The Circle by Dave Eggers
While perusing the stacks at the Louisville Public Library earlier this month, this book jumped out at me — and not because I was familar with the title or the author. The cover is also pretty uninviting, orange with a gold embelm in the middle. I am sure I have read about it somewhere, so it’s probably been in the back of my mind. But I cannot pinpoint how it got there. When I saw it, something about it connected with something in me, similar to magnetic attraction. Reading the inside jacket, the premise seemed intriguing. So, we’ll see how it goes when I get to it.
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
I truthfully had very little interest in reading this book until recently. Slave narratives can be taxing, both emotionally and spiritually. There are a few that are remarkable (for example, Octavia Butler’s Kindred). But many are devastating and require me to approach them academically, and not for pleasure. But my grandmother, a bibliophile like myself, recommended this to me. She was tickled that this is the first she’s come across of someone who decides to make the Underground Railroad an actual, physical railroad. The concept seems refreshing and imaginative. So I will give it a shot.
Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires
This is another recommendation from my book-loving grandmother. It is a short story collection that she really enjoyed. She didn’t tell me anything except that the author was really creative. There is one story in particular that she hinted was sheer genius and very clever but she didn’t offer any description, just that I should read and enjoy. She’s also checked up on me in the week since she’s recommended it to see if I’ve started it (I haven’t yet). I am sure she will want to discuss afterward.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Now this is a book that I picked because of it’s cover. I purchased it in an airport. The cover is simple — a royal blue. Maybe there’s a gold crest in the center (I should probably get up and go look at it to be sure but will just sit here instead). The matte text of the cover is what was most appealing to me. That and the fact that I’ve been looking for a good book series to lose myself within. So far, I’ve read maybe the first 50 pages and suspect it is a story of love affairs, relationship scandals, and… maybe witchcraft? It’s also an HBO show, which I will never watch (I have read the first 3 books of Game of Thrones but never watched the show just like I love the Harry Potter series but don’t really care for the movies).
Ida: A Sword Among Lions by Paula Giddings
I believe I read somewhere, maybe in the introduction, that it took 12 years for Paula Giddings to write this book, which spawned from another project of hers. I am maybe 100 pages into this book, and so would want to finish it this summer. I like it: Ida B. Wells is a woman of almost mythic proportions and, while I knew the name and rattle off a brief sentence on her claim to fame, I never knew her life. One thing I will say about what I have read so far: Paula Giddings makes research look fun! I am sure she spent the majority of these 12 years it took to write this holed up in an archive losing her eyesight while poring over text upon text. But it was surely worth it. Because Giddings has brought Ida to life for me.
What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine
I can’t remember the last time I avidly looked for a book in public. I travel a lot for work and every airport that I’m in, I look for this book. This was written by someone that I actually know — that I went to class with and participated in extra-curricular activities with. There is a reverence for it — because it is a real book that has received real reviews and press from real people outside of Columbia College, outside of Chicago, outside of the Creative Writing MFA realm. Julia has produced a real thing. And I am so excited to consume it this summer.
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
I have read this book already (and currently, my grandmother is reading my copy, though she admitted recently that she was beginning to lose interest in Archie and Samad’s military section). I was about to type that I love Zadie Smith, but had to catch myself because that’s not true. I have started On Beauty and plowed my way through Swing Time. I don’t love Zadie Smith so much as I love this story. This is her debut novel and it raised the bar really high. The language, the importance of detail… this is a book written as if someone’s life depended on it and the first time I read it, I felt so inspired. It has been added into my canon of books to reread to reinvigoration (on the same virtual shelf as the Harry Potter series and To Be Young, Gifted, and Black by Lorraine Hansberry). I want to reread it again to see if the magic still holds.
The Bone People by Keri Hulme
Another book choosen for its cover, this time intriguing not just because of its texture but the elaborate black and white design stenciled across it. It is also a book by an international author. From the summary, I suspect it will play with genre and form. I am curious to see how so.
Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston
A newly unearthed slave story by the great Zora Neale Hurston. As I mentioned above — I am not too much interested in the slave narrative anymore. But I love Zora — though, truthfully, I am probably most in love with her spirit. Of her work, I have only read two short stories and They Eyes Are Watching God, which breaks my heart each time I read it. One of my biggest fears is to spend my life searching for something, find it, love it, and then lose it, which is a simplified version of Janie’s story. But it’s Zora, how could I not read it?
So this is my list. I guess I should check again at the end of summer to let you know what’s what, although anyone who’s interested can also check out my reading progress via Goodreads.