Summer is a great time to get started on that stack of books that you’ve meant to tackle for some time; between sunning by the pool, jet-setting all over the world and just having a break to finally breathe from the mayhem of everyday, non-summer life (for the lucky ones, that is), this list is your answer to breaking out of reality and getting lost in some great prose.
From cookbooks to memoirs, this list is stacked with exactly the kind of stories that make summer reading so much fun—the chance to escape.
- Tracks, by Louise Erdrich
For many, Louise Erdrich is the most notable Native voice of the twentieth and twenty-first century, and once you’re a couple of pages into Tracks, it’s not hard to see why her novels are so well revered. With captivating language, Native storytelling techniques, constantly changing perspectives and a certain air of mystery, Tracks is the kind of tale that educates as well as entertains. Published in 1988, this novel is by no means a newbie on the bestseller lists, but it’s definitely one that demands a second look. Beginning on Native land in North Dakota, it’s a weaving tale of four families and the lives they lead in the wake of a slowly encroaching US government, and how very much their lives are still entangled and shaped by the culture that they are trying to hold dear.
Available on Amazon. Paperback. $10.40.
- Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, by Haruki Murakami
Murakami is set to win a Nobel any day now or Pulitzer or both. Which is definitely why, if you haven’t, you should get in on this author’s incredible way with words. In his latest novel, Murakami takes us through the life of Tsukuru Tazaki, a train station designer who continues to be haunted by his past and a certain event that happened sixteen years ago with four of his childhood friends. When his current girlfriend continues to pester him about resolving the past, he finally goes into his memories and on a soul-searching quest to discover his own hard-earned happiness.
Available at Barnes and Noble. Paperback, Audiobook, Hardcover, NOOK book. Starting at $10.62.
- This Is How You Lose Her, by Junot Diaz
Best known for The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, the fiction editor of the Boston Review is back with an anthology of short stories that follow his much-beloved Yunior throughout the happiness, misfortunes, and everyday ups and downs of his life. Profoundly influenced by Dominican culture and Diaz’s own background, This is How You Lose Her may not be your traditional read (or a good one if you’re into love stories, Yunior is a serial cheater), but it’s certainly full to the brim with humanity, the strength and frailty of the human heart and just how much where we come from shapes where we go.
If you are in the States, you can check out an online copy of the title story featured in The New York Times. If not or if you’re unwilling to pay a premium for NYTimes, grab a Virtual Private Network (it’s perfect for taking out the sneaky blocking services in any country) and then head right here for the same text.
Available on Amazon. Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle. Starting at $9.52.
- The World’s Largest Man, by Harrison Scott Key
Ready for a dose of Southern charm? Harrison Scott Key’s debut novel is full of laughs, tears, and plenty of Southern idiosyncrasies that make people outside the South wonder how Southerners stick around, and Southerner’s wonder how anyone could live anywhere else. An intensely personal look at the author’s relationship with his father, The World’s Largest Man delivers anecdotal lessons through life stories that, at many times, seem like your own. If stories about how people came to be are your favorite genre, this book is the kind that will make you believe that everything little thing really is going to be all right.
Available on IndieBound. Hardcover. $26.99.
- Back in the Day Bakery: Made with Love Cookbook, by Cheryl & Griffith Day
Is there a better season for pursuing a new hobby than the summer? And what better time to learn how to cook than when there will be plenty of people around to eat it? Check out Cheryl & Griffith’s second cookbook (The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook was a New York Times Bestseller) for the next round of delectable, homegrown recipes that will remind you of spending summer in your mom’s kitchen. From rosemary focaccia to great brownies, there’s something in the pages that will delight anyone whether it’s dessert time or snack time. Whether you’re just into reading cookbooks or just looking for the best person to do some cooking with, I will warn you, this book will give you a serious sweet tooth!
Available on Amazon. Hardcover. $13.13.
From affairs to pastries, this summer list is chock full of the kind of reads that will make you change your mind about priorities and maybe even have you at home in bed before dark, with not a single mention of Netflix and Chill. So forget all the summer blockbusters, sit down with a good book instead!
About the Author: Cassie is a digital nomad who splits her time between reading her way through the stacks at Barnes and Noble and finding the next great TV show to binge on—no Game of Thrones spoilers, please! Whether it’s written or watchable, great storytelling is her weakness, and she’s out to share the written (and spoken) word with the world. For more from Cassie, you can check her out at http://culturecoverage.com. Other great posts are here and here.
[Special thanks to Cassie for her exceptional guest post. We hope to have her back at The Dunce Academy again soon, maybe even with her own honorary Dunce #______________ designation. I think we have a vacancy for a Dunce Six! Happy reading!!!]