I will be the first to say I despise reading lists titled “Beach Reads,” “Pool-side Favorites,” etc. All too often, “summer”-related reading lists are way too silly and frivolous for my taste, since I enjoy reading at least one “heavy”/serious book every summer. The dead of winter and the heat of summer are, for me, the best time to concentrate on something intensely literary.
Suffice it to say, I was doubtful when I clicked on Nancy Bass Wyden’s “Resort Reading” list on The Daily Beast this morning. However, Wyden IS the third generation owner of the Strand Book Store (aka, the greatest bookstore on the planet), and her reading lists have proved interesting so far as I have used them. I was not let down with this one. Wyden’s summer reading list is far from beachy, and is instead packed with quality non-fiction books that sound absolutely fascinating. I’m e-mailing myself the link so that I can add to my own reading list, but I think it’s great for sharing as well.
WARNING: These titles include an abundance/abuse of colons. Non-fiction authors and editors should probably beef up their creativity when it comes to writing titles.
1. Bananas: How the United Fruit Company Shaped the World by Peter Chapman
2. This is Water: Some Thoughts Delivered on a Significant Occasion, About Living a Compassionate Life by David Foster Wallace
[note: this is the text of Wallace’s commencement address at Kenyon College in 2005, my DREAM school…I’m still bitter]
3. How the Beatles Destroyed Rock ‘N’ Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music by Elijah Wald
4. The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power by Jeff Sharlet
5. The Book of Dead Philosophers by Simon Critchley
Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Abraham Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Steward
6. Conquest of the Useless by Werner Herzog
7. The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow
Now I know that summer is nearly over, but perhaps these titles could add a bit of scholarly-ness to a fiction-heavy fall.