Our Summer Reads, Vol. 5 – Mishka Hoosen

Summer is finally here, and with it, the best time of year to curl up with a book, free – at least in our heads – of all obligations to read anything out of obligation. Long-anticipated leisure reads, lakeside picnics, and much-needed sunshine. This June, the Attic on Eighth writers share what it is that they’re looking forward to reading this summer season.

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One of the side-effects of an artists’ residency is that the line between reading for work and reading for pleasure becomes increasingly blurred, which I’m actually okay with. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the mental energy to give my full attention to a book, work-related or otherwise, but the time this has given me to immerse myself in the writing process has given me the best kind of motivation to take genuine pleasure in reading again. Some of the themes I’ve been fixating on lately include religion (France’s gothic architecture has, apart from causing me mild nervous breakdowns, forced me to wrestle with the violent urge to convert to Catholicism), perfume (surprise), some science, some murder, and some comics I’ve been meaning to catch up on thrown in for good measure. 

I recently stumbled upon Karen Armstrong’s The Spiral Staircase,in the midst of a spiritual crisis, which was ideal because it’s a delicately balanced and deeply humane examination of faith. I’ve now put both In the Beginning: A New Interpretation of Genesisand A History of God, also by Karen Armstrong, on the top of my summer reading list. 

Then, because I’m a well-rounded individual, I’m treating myself to Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, the duo behind one of my favorite podcasts My Favorite Murder — quality content for anyone with a dark sense of humor and a fascination with the macabre. They also manage to be incredibly kind, witty, and insightful, and their revelations about their personal struggles with substance abuse and mental illness resonated with honesty, vulnerability, and compassion. 

I’m also looking forward to balancing things out with Natalie Angier’s The Canon, to refresh my high school science and get excited about studying some chemistry again. And to supplement my avid reveling in the sensory world (what else does one do in Paris after all?), I’ll be reading Michael Pollan’s fascinating The Botany of Desire, to add some more learned insights into the luscious things I so take for granted during our weekly market days. 

Apart from those, here are some of the other books I’m looking forward to reading in the coming weeks:


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  • Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff

  • Les pouvoirs de l’odeur, Annick le Guérer

  • What are we doing here?, Marilynne Robinson

  • The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge,Rainer Maria Rilke 

  • Walk through walls, Marina Abramovic

  • M Train, Patti Smith

  • Milk of Paradise: A History of Opium, Lucy Inglis

  •  The Song of Achilles, Madeleine Miller

  • Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

  • The Lady and the Unicorn, Elisabeth Tabouret-Delahaye

  • Plainwater, Anne Carson

  •  The Essential Naturalist: Timeless Readings in Natural History,ed. Michael H. Graham, Joan Parker, and Paul K. Dayton

  •  The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, Michael Pollan

  •  Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh

  •  DIE Volume 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker, Kieron Gillen, Stephanie Hans & Clayton Cowles

  •  The Wicked + The Divine: Old is the New New, Kieron Gillen, Jamie Mckelvie, Matthew Wilson & Clayton Cowles

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Mishka Hoosen is a writer, creative director, and neophyte perfumer living and working in Cape Town, South Africa. Her first novel, Call it a difficult night, was published by Deep South Books in 2015, and she is currently working on a book about perfume and the anthropocene thanks to a residency from IFAS. Mishka is The Attic on Eighth’s Perfume Columnist.