I made a summer bucket list a couple weeks ago in an effort to encourage myself to seize the moment (or seize the three months, as it were) and enjoy some of the season before it disappears and all I have are hazy memories of way, way too many hours logged at our local playground (story of my last few summers). I kept the bucket list realistic enough that I might actually tackle everything — or near everything — on the list, but ambitious enough to feel excited about doing do. Probably my most ambitious item on the list is to read five books this summer. Those of you who also have young kids you’re home with most of the day, and who don’t commute on public transportation regularly, may feel my pain. It’s hard to find the mental energy to focus on a book — newspaper and magazine articles are my usual go-to on a day-to-day basis. But I don’t want to let another summer pass without savoring the time-honored tradition of getting lost in a book on a hot day (or evening). And, so: another list. This time of books I feel drawn to read over the next couple of months:
The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs
I’m a big fan of memoirs — they’re my favorite thing to read — and when I’ve been in a reading rut like I have been lately, memoirs are usually a sure-fire way to re-start a reading habit. I did a quick search for new memoirs on Amazon last week and saw that this book was recently published and had rave reviews. It’s about a woman — a mother — my age who is dying of breast cancer. “Exploring motherhood, marriage, friendship, and memory, even as she wrestles with the legacy of her great-great-great grandfather, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nina Riggs’s breathtaking memoir continues the urgent conversation that Paul Kalanithi began in his gorgeous When Breath Becomes Air. She asks, what makes a meaningful life when one has limited time?” Like Kalanithi’s memoir, The Bright Hour is deeply moving, poignant, and compelling. It’s also sad as hell.
Textbook by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Written by the late Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who wrote the beautiful essay “You May Want to Marry My Husband,” weeks before she died of cancer earlier this year, Textbook, “not exactly a memoir, not just a collection of observations,” is a beautiful exploration into the many ways we are connected on this planet and speaks to the awe, bewilderment, and poignancy of being alive. That’s my jam, and plus I love AKR (her daughter, by the way, is posting a beautiful tribute to her mother on Instagram, which I have enjoyed following over the past few months).
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan
This is a novel, not a memoir, but it kept coming up as a recommendation in my search and had stellar reviews; then I read a Modern Love essay the other day that I liked and noticed that the author was the same guy who wrote this book, so now it’s on my summer reading list. It’s described as a murder mystery, which isn’t usually my cup of tea, but I do like the way the author writes, and what can I say? I’m a sucker for a good title and a well-designed book cover.
We Are Never Meeting in Real Life: Essays by Samantha Irby
This also popped up as another recommendation in my search (often purchased together with Hunger, Amazon says). It’s a collection of essays by a blogger I’m not familiar with, but it also has great reviews, and the blurb is funny: “Whether talking about how her difficult childhood has led to a problem in making “adult” budgets, explaining why she should be the new Bachelorette—she’s “35-ish, but could easily pass for 60-something”—detailing a disastrous pilgrimage-slash-romantic-vacation to Nashville to scatter her estranged father’s ashes, sharing awkward sexual encounters, or dispensing advice on how to navigate friendships with former drinking buddies who are now suburban moms—hang in there for the Costco loot—she’s as deft at poking fun at the ghosts of her past self as she is at capturing powerful emotional truths.”
My Glory Was I Had Such Friends: A Memoir by Amy Silverstein
This is a story about “showing up” for a friend in need as women from different points in the author’s life gather to support her as she awaits a heart transplant. Reviewers describe it as compelling, gripping, a page-turner, and full of compassion, empathy, love, and the power of friendship.
For the fall, or to be squeezed in at the end of summer if I’ve finished these others:
Hunger by Roxane Gay
Written by best-selling author, Roxane Gay (Bad Feminist), Hunger is a memoir that explores the relationship between food, feelings, weight, and self-image. “Roxane explores what it means to be overweight in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen.”
What are you all reading this summer? Any recommendations?