Terrie Akers, Marketing Director
My summer reading plans are always more ambitious than I’m ever able to live up to, but these are the books that beckon expectantly from the stack on my coffee table: Memory Wall by Anthony Doerr (currently reading), 10:04 by Ben Lerner, A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson (I recently read and adored Life After Life), and ARCs of Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson and City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg.
Bruce Bauman, author of Broken Sleep
For the last dozen or so years, I’ve read a “big” book during the summer, where I could take my time and savor the style and substance, and marvel at the magic of the storytelling. To see how an author can keep a reader engaged for many hundreds of pages. Sometimes it was a reread like Don Quixote (this was also an actually-finish for the first time) or War and Peace. Sometimes a new classic like Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate. I missed the last couple of summers because I was too involved in my own work. Now that I’m done, I had many choices and I decided on Roberto Bolaño’s 2666. I’m about 100 pages in and I’m hooked. He was a master. And yet, any summary I gave of those pages would seem an inadequate explanation of why it is so compelling. I just can’t wait to read more.
Chris Cander, author of Whisper Hollow
I’m reading The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov—a darkly humorous and absurd satire of Stalinist Russia that highlights the best and worst aspects of the human condition.
Elena Delbanco, author of The Silver Swan
I’ve been reading the work of several twentieth-century women writers from England and Australia. Most notable are two breathtakingly beautiful novels by Helen Dunmore: The Siege, about the siege of Leningrad during World War II, and The Betrayal, which picks up the thread and the characters in immediate postwar Soviet Leningrad. Both books are stark, spare, impeccably written evocations of the horrors of that grim period.
Another intriguing novel, Angel, by English author Elizabeth Taylor, tells the remarkable story of a young, eccentric girl who becomes a successful writer despite her total literary naiveté and lack of education. It’s a study of the power of delusion and determination.
And, by Australian novelist Elizabeth Harrower, The Watch Tower, a psychological stunner about two sisters, abandoned by their mother, who fall into the sinister hands of a man who offers to help them.
None of these books are contemporary. They’re all fantastic.
Marjorie DeWitt, Editor
Helen Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk and I’m hoping to read City on Fire, which I’d like to finish by its October publication date (the spine runs thick!). Also Middlemarch. Editing a novel about George Eliot will do that to you!
I just finished reading Uprooted by Naomi Novik, which absolutely blew me away. I read the whole book in three days, and can’t stop thinking about it. If you are a fan of fairy tales or fantasy novels definitely pick this one up.
Also on my list for the summer is the final installment of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, Acceptance, which I hope will answer some of my questions about what’s going on in the creepy and mysterious Area X.
Déborah Lévy-Bertherat, author of The Travels of Daniel Ascher
I just finished Jacob, Jacob by Valérie Zenatti, a beautiful novel about a 19-year-old Jewish boy from Algeria who joins the Forces françaises libres in 1944, to free France from the Nazi Occupation, and dies in combat.
I am presently reading Falling Out of Time by David Grossman, a magnificent polyphonic text, about a man who lost his son and starts walking around his town, followed by other “orphaned” parents.
After that, I plan to read something more cheerful, a Chinese satiric novel: The Noodle Maker by Ma Jian… and many more books!
Keenan McCracken, Associate Editor
For fiction, a friend’s been periodically reminding me to read Barry Hannah’s Airships for years now and I keep putting it off, so hopefully I’ll finally get around to it by the end of the summer.
Also looking to start Katherine Mansfield’s The Garden Party and Other Stories. More than once now, I’ve been a bystander to people performing a kind of secret handshake over her work, so my curiosity’s definitely piqued.
For poetry, I’ve been reading Emily Hunt’s spare, mournful, totally stunning debut collection Dark Green, published by The Song Cave, which is fast becoming one of the most vital small publishers in the U.S. Also just getting to Adam Fitzgerald’s debut, The Late Parade (Liveright). Fitzgerald’s poems have an impeccable musicality to them–definitely drawing on the work of some of my favorite poets (Hart Crane, Ashbery), but the vision’s entirely his own. Hard to believe they’re both first collections.
Probably the strangest thing I’m looking forward to is the first volume of Peter Sloterdijk’s three-volume critical/morphological rethinking of Western metaphysics, Bubbles (Semiotext). It’s apparently beautifully written, and since lyrical philosophy’s pretty rare (and probably only getting rarer), it seems worth checking out.
Christie Michel, Marketing Associate
Yasunari Kawabata’s Snow Country has been on my bookshelf for a while, so that’s first on my list. Later this summer I’ll be reading Blues Legacies and Black Feminism, where Angela Davis delves into the music of Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday, and I’ll be starting in on Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s The Wicked + The Divine, which looks gorgeous.
I am reading Primo Levi. His complete works are coming out this fall in new translations. I have just finished If Not Now, When, which I had never read, and am now in the midst of The Drowned and the Saved. I find Levi the most moral of witnesses and of an unusual intellectual integrity. I do take breaks from this unbearably poignant body of work by reading snatches of Colette.
Lauren Shekari, Subsidiary Rights Director
I am probably the last person in town to read the Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante, so this summer I plan to binge read them all. I won’t be doing any European travel, but I’m hoping they will make me feel like I’m in Italy!
Rupert Thomson, author Katherine Carlyle
Long sunlit days require dark reading matter. I have decided to investigate the work of David Goodis for the first time, a writer who has been overlooked, but whose name deserves to stand alongside those of RaymondChandler, Dashiell Hammett, and James M. Cain. His intense, jazzy, subversive novellas of urban fear and alienation—Down There, Nightfall, The Moon in the Gutter—will inject a welcome sense of doom and hopelessness into my otherwise carefree summer. Prompted by my recent obsession with Asian cinema, I will also be sampling some Japanese noir —Malice by the best-selling Keigo Higashino, and Hotel Iris by the chillingly gifted Yoko Ogawa. Like countless other readers I have been seduced by Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels—how rare and refreshing to discover books that actually live up to the hype!—and I’m sure I will devour the fourth and last in the series, The Story of the Lost Child. In September I am participating in a celebration of the work of the Nobel Prize-winning French author Patrick Modiano. By way of preparation, I’m intending to revisit The Search Warrant and Honeymoon. Modiano’s slender, atmospheric, and oddly gripping novels are set during the Nazi occupation, a world of uncertain identities and hidden agendas. What seems to fascinate him are the gaps in people lives—the bits that have been removed or repressed, the bits that can’t be accounted for. His books are puzzles, but they are also laments. Finally, some poems. This summer I will be diving into new collections by two of the greatest poets alive today: Red Doc> by Anne Carson, and Faithful and Virtuous Night by Louise Glück.