Saturday, May 25, 2013
May 25-26, 2013: Crowd-Sourced Beach Reads Redux
[Last year, I helped celebrate summer with a series on American Studies Beach Reads. It was a lot of fun, so I’ve done the same this year. This crowd-sourced post is drawn from the suggestions of fellow AmericanStudiers and beachgoers—please share your nominees to give us the most options for our tan-inducing page-turners!]
Kelly Sloane suggests, “1Q84, anything Junot Diaz, Jhumpa Lahiri, Tennessee Williams, or Sandra Cisneros’ Caramelo.”
Erin Kingsley writes, “If I had time, I would read Wolf Hall, The Orphan Master's Son, then Where'd You Go, Bernadette. If I had time...”
Chance Lee writes, “Karen Russell's Swamplandia! is an excellent beach read. It's set in Florida -- oh land of meth heads, sinkholes, Disney World, and alligator-filled swamps -- and Russell does a great job portraying all the different sides of this strange state (drugs! theme parks! alligators!) and transforming them into a compelling coming-of-age story. There's even a little bit of Florida history tucked in for bonus educational value. It's sticky and sweaty and weird; so: perfect for summer reading.”
Wesley Raabe writes, “If your contemporary lit friends are reading 50 Shades, then you could whip out Maria Monk's Awful Disclosures.”
Susan Stark writes, “My recommendation is Earth Abides by George R. Stewart. While apocalyptic-type novels have been done to death, this one manages to catch onto a few interestingly complex ideas. If there were only a handful of people left, what parts of your culture would you be capable of carrying forward? How long could you live like a parasite off of the remains of a system that no longer exists? And how do you start over when you are surrounded by the crumbling remains of a dead society? In one of the most poignant scenes, the main character tries to express to his children (born after the ‘disaster’) the importance of reading so that they may learn all of the things their forefathers have already figured out. But to the children, the library is a source of fuel for their fires, not their minds. How would you let it all go? And what things are truly worth fighting to save? Good stuff to think about on the beach!”
Steve Railton writes, “My favorite summer reading includes RE-reading, i.e. to make sure I take one book I read some time ago and loved, and give myself the chance to see what the experience of reading it is like now.”
Since I wrote this week’s series, I’ve also come upon another great historical novel that rivals Sayles’ in summer readability (if not quite in size): Dennis Lehane’s The Given Day.
Next series starts Monday,
PS. What are you bringing to the beach this summer?