Reading Challenge; Summer 2016

Many of my fondest summer memories involve books. In some, I’m lounging on the beach with a book balanced on my knees, squinting at the words in the sunlight. In others, I’m curled up in a pile of blankets with the air conditioner blowing behind me, a large Harry Potter novel propped up on my pillow.

Reading has always been a large part of my life as one of the easiest ways for me to relax and unwind. As I’ve gotten older and summer vacations have steadily become shorter (and then nonexistent), my reading time has dropped dramatically. Between work and date nights and seeing friends, I don’t have as much time to crack open a book anymore.

That’s why I’m giving myself a summer reading list this year. In the next two (let’s call it two and a half) months, I intend on getting through five books. Here’s what I’ve picked out. Feel free to join me along for the ride and let me know how you’re liking them!

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

“Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd, a New Jersey romantic who dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the fukú — the ancient curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still dreaming of his first kiss, is only its most recent victim – until the fateful summer that he decides to be its last.”

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

“Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last – inexorably – into evil.”

Richard Yates by Tao Lin

Richard Yates is named after real-life writer Richard Yates, but it has nothing to do with him. Instead, it tracks the rise and fall of an illicit affair between a very young writer and his even younger–in fact, under-aged–lover. As he seeks to balance work and love, she becomes more and more self-destructive in a play for his undivided attention. His guilt and anger builds in response until they find themselves hurtling out of control and afraid to let go.”

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

“Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before.  Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable.  As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman.”

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

“Middlesex tells the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides, and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family, who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City and the race riots of 1967 before moving out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret, and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, “Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.”

Let’s dive right in. Aaaaaand…go!

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