My New Book!

My New Book!
My New Book!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

June 11-12, 2016: Crowd-sourced Beach Reads

[For this year’s installment of my annual Beach Reads series, I wanted to highlight books I’m looking forward to checking out. That meant I had less to say about them—but fellow AmericanReaders have shared their thoughts on these and their own Beach Read recommendations for this crowd-sourced weekend post—add your own responses and recs, please!]
James Danzl follows up Tuesday’s post, writing, “I am so excited that Coates is writing the new Black Panther. I haven't checked it out yet, but it is on my list for the summer. As for other comic-related summer reading, I'm hoping to dig back into some Calvin and Hobbes, as it has always captured the wonder and possibility of childhood for me, with a cynical edge that is still overpowered in the end by creativity and discovery while allowing that cynicism to contribute to an understanding of the world. I think it manages to critique rote, repetitive, love-of-learning crushing classroom practices (whether you want to argue that they stem (right now) from ineffective/apathetic teachers (certainly a small group) or a system handcuffed by destructive policies like NCLB- the former drove me to take myself out of school in 3rd grade and become self-taught, while I know so many teachers who feel shackled by the latter. I'd argue for a little of column A and a lot of column B) while expressing a love of discovery and learning.”
Max Cohen highlights these two webcomics: Strong Female Protagonist and Star Power.
On Twitter, Mark Rice follows up Wednesday’s post, noting, “I teach The Round House every fall. It's fantastic.”
Lara Schwartz follows up Thursday’s poetry post, writing, “Seamus Heaney's “Blackberry Picking” always kicks off my summer.” [BEN: Would make for a great two-fer with Plath’s “Blackberrying”!] Sharon Brubaker agrees, nominating “anything by Seamus Heaney.”
More poetry: Heather Harvey nominates “all of Billy Collins,” while Jonathan Jena notes, “I like Shane Koyczan’s work.” Andrea Grenadier highlights “the dynamic duo (and former roommates in college) Galway Kinnell and W.S. Merwin.” Rob Gosselin writes that you “can never go wrong with this one.” Maria DiFrancesco nominates Kevin Young. Andrew DaSilva highlights “Rainer Maria Rilke: it’s short, easy, and makes ya think.” Samantha Bridgman nominates, “H.D.'s Sea Garden ... Or “Hermes of the Ways.” Or “Helen,” or really, anything by HD.” Jen Heller highlights, “Sharon Olds or Jane Kenyon.” And Jeff Renye shares this very neat “pop-up Kubla Khan, design and illustrations by Nick Bantock.”
Also on the poetry kick, Nancy Caronia writes, “Have you read Sarah Freligh's Sad Math? If not, I think it would be a great read as an American Studier! And then, I believe George Guida has a new book of poems out. (I say, I think because I feel like he has five new books in all genres coming out.) Then, there is Patrick Donnelly's work. Yes, they are all friends, but the span the American experience! Enjoy!”
Following up Friday’s post on memoirs and nonfiction, Emily Royalty-Bachelor nominates Disrupted by Dan Lyons and Endurance by Alfred Lansing. Andrew DaSilva highlights, “True Compass by Ted Kennedy, A Common Struggle by Patrick Kennedy, and Shock by Kitty Dukakis to name a few...
Other Beach Read nominations:
Seferine Baez writes, “I personally consider Eat Pray Love a pretty beachy read because it's reminiscent of vacationing, so it works whether you're at home or quite far away, but deeper since it's stacked up against some really intense personal moments for Liz. But told in short little light vignette-type sections that gets you invested without adopting her emotional scope which can be such a winding road. Memoir, yes, but fabulously told in that way that isn't begging you to echo her experience but maybe take something of your own away from it. Lots of self-discovery, pursuit of peace, personal philosophy, etc. Easy to pick up and put down whenever you have a moment.”
On Twitter, Patrick Maley writes, “I am a brand new fan & student of classical music, so Barry Cooper’s biography is helping me make a new friend of Beethoven.”
Rochelle Davis Gerber shares, “Taking the following this week: Gratitude by Oliver Sacks, The Good Death by Ann Neumann, and Mountains beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. Will let you know what I think.” [And I’ll update this post when she does!]
Jason Flinkstrom writes, “currently reading/ listening to: Stranger Beside Me, Washington: A Life, The Master, The Story of World War II, Path to Power: The Years of Lyndon B Johnson, and on a lighter note, some fantasy, The Name of The Wind: Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 1.”
Shirley Wagner notes, “Mysteries for me - Keigo Higashino, Salvation of a Saint, set in modern day Japan; Douglas Corleone, three mysteries set in Hawaii including One Man’s Paradise; Gillian Royes mysteries set in Jamaica - highly recommend The Goat Woman of Largo Bay; Baksheesh by Esmahan Aykol.”
Meghan Koslowski writes, “I'm currently reading Glory over Everything by Kathleen Grissom, which is a follow-up to The Kitchen House, and it's excellent thus far.”
Jeff Renye highlights, “The People's Republic of Amnesia, in honor of the recently (un-)celebrated June 4th Tiananmen Square protests. Fascinating how modern history can be obliterated and remembrance controlled. Louisa Lin does a very fine job in that book.”
Adam Britt shares, “Teeters on the gross side, but I started reading The Red Market by Scott Carney recently. It details the history and trails of illegal body part and organ trafficking. Despite the content, it's been surprisingly informative on a topic I knew existed but didn't know much about.” He adds, “To offset the icky, I've been supplementing it with Oscar Wao, because I also need a depressing novel to break my heart.”
Paige Wallace writes, “I know there's some kick back from the disabled community but I really enjoyed Me Before You by JoJo Moyes; unless people don't like sobbing on the beach... (I don't go to the beach so I wouldn't know.) In which case, maybe something more like Exquisite Hours by Joshua Humphreys, or anything by Neil Gaiman (Stardust, Neverwhere, Graveyard Book).” About Me Before You, Rochelle adds, “I'm going to read that too. I don't interpret it as anti-disabled, I work with people whose lives are changed every day like that in the trauma setting and I think autonomy of decision is of utmost importance.” (For more of that Facebook conversation about the book, see the relevant thread on this post.) And to continue the conversation, here’s a great blog post collecting much of the scholarly criticism of the book/film:
And finally, here’s the Washington Post Book World’s 2016 summer reading list:
Next series starts Monday,
PS. Thoughts on these books? Other Beach Reads you’d share?


  1. PPS. On Twitter, Lydia Ferguson (@pagesnporters) shares Gregory Williams' memoir Life on the Color Line:

  2. PPPS. Donna Moody highlights Azar Nafisi's "Things I've Been Silent About" and "Reading Lolita in Tehran"!

  3. PPPPS. Anne Holub writes, "Do you know the story of Thomas Meager (pron: mar)? He was the first territorial governor of Montana, but WHOA BOY what a lead up to that job!"