Summer Reading

I want to mention some happy books; I feel we’ve gotten a little weltschmerzy.

Steven Almond, 6/28/05 on Open Source
Taking names and titles this hour for the summer reading list. Never to be confused with the Christmas list of gift books, or coffee table books. Summer books are beach towel or back-porch books. And usually not those tasty best-selling trifles like Blink or 1776. The ideal summer book is sustained reading for a month or two: the collected Danelle Steele or Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, Moby Dick, the Dickens you never finished before like Bleak House or Pickwick Papers, or the boxed set of Faulkner masterpieces that Oprah has dared you to open. The other goad we never had before, a whole meaning of the company of books, comes out of the Internet which lets an enterprising reader write her own book review, share a discovery or a passion, join a book group across the globe, or find the inner circle of Proustians.

Margo Lockwood

poet, owned the independent bookstore “The Horse in the Attic” in Massachusetts for 12 years

[in the studio at WGBH]

Steve Almond

creative writing teacher at Boston College, author of Candyfreak

[in the studio at WGBH]

Maud Newton

literary blog: Maud Newton

[by phone from New York City]

Dennis Johnson

literary blog: Moby Lives

[by phone from Hoboken, NJ]

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  • If you don’t mind synthesized speech, a whole new world of “reading” awaits.

    I have created podcasts of several of the classics, using Project Gutenberg text.

    For example:

  • eileen8285

    I think the concept that egilchri writes about is wonderful – it’s sort of a book on tape but it’s available to a wider audience. Summer Reading conveys a light-hearted literary experience than listening to a pod cast. Summer Reading, to me, is all about finding a good book (a great book is ideal, but not required), a quite place outdoors, a hammock in the yard, or a blanket on the beach, some ice tea, and hours of free time to get totally lost in a book. Summer Reading is not just about reading, but it is incorporating a range of things that we like, to create a memorable experience.

  • Vanessa

    My well-read classmate Kestrell has a lit blog for blind people, The Blind Bookworm. I’m hoping Kes will call into the show tonight because she’s hilarious and wonderful. She’s always up for talking about the intersection of disability studies and literature.

  • John Gunther

    Highly recommended: The Bookseller of Kabul, Anne Seierstad, 2002: a “literarized” report of author’s time spent with an Afghan merchant family. Hard to duplicate insights into Afgan-Muslim culture, good and bad (yes those are value judgments). The experiences related could only be gathered by a Western woman, who can move between the separate men’s and women’s worlds. I’ve traveled in more modern Morocco and stayed with families and still learned a lot from the book. I’ve come to the considered conclusion that cultural or religious tradition is no reason not to condemn violence and coercion as unacceptable human rights violations. Marital tyranny happens to different degrees in many cultures and they should all be obliterated. Some of the Muslim practices qualify as slavery and should not be condoned by anyone in the name of tradition.

  • Potter

    A Bellow short story that I just read that blew me away: The Bellarosa Connection.

    I am reading slowly, stopping to digest and contemplate, The Magic Mountain, by Thomas Mann.

    And here is a poem by Czeslaw Milosz, translated by Robert Hass, from the book “Second Space: new poems” which I had to buy after reading it in the New Yorker magazine:

    If there is no God

    Not everything is permitted to man

    He is still his brother’s keeper

    And he is not permitted to sadden his brother,

    By saying that there is no God.

  • John Gunther

    Clarification of earlier grammar typo: When I said “they should all be obliterated” I was referring to the practices of marital/sexual tyranny, not the cultures in which they’re found.

  • So many books so little Summer time!

    Just finished Christopher Hitchens’ Thomas Jefferson, Author of America which I highly recommend.

    What do I hope to read this summer?

    To offset my infatuation with Jefferson, I plan to retry Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton with Richard Brookhiser’s biography of same in my other hand.

    Thus far, biography appears to rule.

    But maybe this might be the summer I tackle Dos Passos’ U.S.A.

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  • Chelsea


    I got so caught up in the last-minute frenzy that I forgot to check my voicemail. Nontheless I should have at least emailed you to let you kow that the show had been booked. I hope this gaffe hasn’t soured you on the show and that you won’t rule out being a guest in the future.

  • Melusine62

    Hi, don’t have much time to read right now other than study materials, so have been listening to books on tape, of which the Seattle Public library has quite a nice collection (in addition to their stunning collection of videos and DVDs). Am “reading” ancient stories at the moment, starting with the Iliad and the Bhagavad-Gita, just listened to Gilgamesh in a new translation by Stephen Mitchell that was quite riveting, the Odyssey is next. Since Gilgamesh is an admittedly rather free translation, I went ahead and got the book today, so I could see in detail what leaps he had made. Gilgamesh takes place in Uruk or ancient Iraq, so a particularly interesting myth right now.

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  • First let me say I’m thrilled having Chris back on the air….like an old friend back in my life….

    Books: I recently discovered a great picture book called “The Orb of Chatham” by artist Bob Staake. It’s a small book/graphic novel with exquisite black & white illustrations….It’s a tale about mysterious black metal orb that supposedly rolled through the dunes and streets of Chatham Cape Cod in the summer of 1935. A website ties into the book.

    Stimulate your child’s imagination with this gem!

  • I love Steve Almond’s book Candy Freak. My husband and I take regular late-night trips to visit his family in New Jersey. While the kids sleep in back, we listen to an audiobook. Last trip: audiobook of Candy Freak. It was great, my husband says it’s his favorite of all the audiobooks we’ve listened to on our trips, and I have to concur.

  • Really enjoyed this show, as I do most or your episodes. You missed one of the recommendations of your guests — Steven Church’s The Guinness Book of Me. It’s a great read — and worthy of a link on your list.

  • plaintext

    This book is hilarious – updated version of P. G. Wodehouse -> “An Evening of Long Goodbyes” by Paul Murray. Be prepared to LOL.