Raquel Shares Her Favorite Summer Reads
Summer vacation growing up for me typically meant entire days sat at the local library, piles of books all around me. There wasn't a day I didn't browse every aisle for any arrival I may have missed, adding more and more to my piles and haggling the 10 book limit with librarians. At university, I chose an apartment based on its proximity to the university library, and upgraded a tiny table covered in novels to a cozy seating area and a coffee table covered in art books. Summers in my early twenties typically meant entire days seated at the local coffee shop, devouring pages while sipping far too much iced espresso for mine or anyone's good. While then that may have gone for several uninterrupted days or weeks, since starting work full time that's become more like one to two days a month. Still, I tend to tie objects to memories, and any time I find myself reading in a coffee shop, waiting out the latest thunderstorm, I feel 21 again.
The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton
Sometimes a book will stick with me for so long I'll refuse to read anything else. This book is it. Haunting and otherwise indescribable, I once read and re-read it for an entire summer until the binding snapped and I finally stopped carrying around.
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
"And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer."
Everyone loves that bit about the Fall, but every single year before that I have this moment sometime between late May and early June, where the air feels different, and no matter where I am, the memory of this line swims through my head.
The Vices, Lawrence Douglas
I make it a policy to visit at least one bookshop wherever I go, and ask for something I might not find anywhere else. Lucky for me in New Orleans a couple of years ago, that was Faulkner House Books, and it contained The Vices. A considerably light read after The Luminaries at roughly a third of its page count, it contains similar plot elements (the sea, death, mystery) treated in a completely different way.
The Muse's Tragedy, Edith Wharton
A book of short stories by HRH Ms Wharton, I'd recommend the titular story to anyone who's ever dealt with unrequited love. If you think getting ghosted by some random fuckboy is tough, try falling for your artist best friend.
Grace: A Memoir, Grace Coddington
Grace Coddington has had the career journey that dreams are made of, and her autobiography leaves nothing to be desired. I read it the summer after graduation and felt every bit inspired for my own future.
All The Time In The World, Jessica Kerwin Jenkins
Jessica Kerwin Jenkins has the capacity to make even a two page encyclopedia entry feel like an all-encompassing story. Catalogued chronologically, the entries in her second book are effortless for dipping in and out of the entire year through, particularly during their given months.
The Southerner's Handbook, David DiBenedetto
Another one of those encyclopedic entry books, with everything from proper neighborhood manners to a short history of bourbon. If you've ever wanted to live in the South, this'll get you there without the humidity.
The Little Friend, Donna Tartt
With the anniversary of The Secret History coming up, I've been meaning to re-read all of Tartt's works. I haven't actually read TLF before, but given my love for reading literary thrillers several hundreds of pages long in the summer, I think this will be my next read.
Fates And Furies, Lauren Groff
I've only read snippets here and there but given its highly recommended background, I decided I'd finally take the plunge and physically add it to my pile. You'll find me reading it laid out on a deck chair during my summer holidays later this season.
Rare Objects, Kathleen Tessaro
Another for the TBR pile, I stumbled across this a couple of weeks ago at the local bookstore. The description on the back cover gives me Edith Wharton-meets-Sylvia Plath vibes and I can't wait to read it.