Hi BookRags Readers,
My name is Kathleen Levitt and I’m here with a few recommendations for summer reading. Even if your summer isn’t entirely open, the next few months always make us want to get away with a few good reads. I’ve written for BookRags for five years and studied Creative Writing and Literature for several years prior to that. Even when I’m not studying or working, I’m usually obsessing over some new novel. Below are just a few that have either transported, captivated, or inspired me. What’s better than discovering new worlds, voices, and experiences by sharing stories with each other?
For fans of Ottessa Moshfegh, Emma Cline’s new novel The Guest is a must-read this summer. Tracing the protagonist Alex’s experiences on Long Island before Labor Day, the novel immerses you in the sticky possibilities that summer often holds. While Alex isn’t always the most admirable character, like many of Moshfegh’s protagonists, her questions, her downfalls, and her constant cravings immediately captivate you. The narrator’s deadpan tone and bald descriptions are as sensorially intoxicating as the alcohol and medications Alex consumes to transport herself out of reality. While Cline’s narrative can be experienced as pure entertainment, via Alex’s summer at the beach, the author is also asking more challenging questions about identity and the self.
If you were as obsessed with Rachel Yoder’s Nighbitch as I was, check out Claire Oshetsky’s Chouette. A work of magical realism, when the narrator Tiny discovers she’s pregnant, she is convinced her baby is in fact an owl. Whether or not you read Tiny’s story as a figment of her imagination or a representation of her reality, Chouette will undeniably unsettle you as much as it will delight you. What might be most arresting about Tiny’s narrative is the way she captures elements of the auditory on the page. A musician and the mother of an owl, Tiny is constantly attuned to the sounds of music and the natural world. So even if you can’t make it outside or to that concert this summer, Oshetsky will bring you there with her. Like Yoder’s Nightbitch, I loved the way Oshetsky both immersed me in a fairy tale while teaching me new things about motherhood, accessibility, and sacrifice.
Did you read Ling Ma’s debut novel Severance? Whether you’ve gotten to it yet or not, her short story collection Bliss Montage is not to be missed. While Severance presciently imagined a world not dissimilar to COVID, the eight short stories in Bliss Montage have little interest in reality at all. In one, the narrator lives in a house with her 100 ex-boyfriends. In another, the narrator’s former professor leads her into a world inside his office closet. In another still, the narrator learns how to make love to a yeti. Because I like to spend the summer reading stories that feel as hazy as the hot days, I loved how Ma’s collection smeared the boundaries between the real and the surreal, the imagined and the experienced.
The Best Short Stories of 2022 edited by Valeria Luiselli
If you’re looking for a book you can work through in smaller bursts, check out Anchor Books’ annual O. Henry Prize Winners, The Best Short Stories of 2022, edited by Valeria Luiselli. Although summer gives us more free time, it can be nice to have something you can pick up and put down just as easily, depending on your vacation schedule. This collection is one of my favorite things I’ve read all year. Luiselli has compiled an electric range of narratives, styles, forms, and voices, including writers like Alejandro Zambra, Samanta Schweblin, and Loorie Moore. Even if you’re not leaving town for the summer months, the stories collected between these two covers will carry you on travels of their own, transporting you into new geographic and imaginative realms. Examinations of intimacy, perception, or desire, the stories in this collection have the power to captivate, amuse, and move you.
Some short stories include:
Dengue Boy by Michel Nieva
Face Time by Lorrie Moore
Horse Soup by Vladimir Sorokin
The Little Widow From the Capital by Yohanca Delgado
Rainbows by Joseph O’Neill
Screen Time by Alejandro Zambra
An Unlucky Man by Samanta Schweblin
A Way With Bea by Shanteka Sigers
Looking for something steamy and intellectually stimulating? Check out Brandon Taylor’s newest novel The Late Americans. Set in Iowa City in the middle of the winter, Taylor’s novel will give you just the escape from the heat you need. The Late Americans traces the entangled lives and love affairs of a diverse network of characters. No matter their artistic proclivities, economic background, sexual orientation, or cultural origins, all of Taylor’s characters’ storylines intersect with and inform one another. Taylor is a master of character, and makes you not only believe the identities he creates on the page, but fall in love with them. Not unlike Sally Rooney, Taylor marries the erotically engaging with the politically challenging throughout.
For years I’ve followed Cheryl Strayed’s column and podcast Dear Sugar with religious vehemence. So you can imagine how excited I was when Vintage Books released a collection of Sugar’s advice under the title Tiny Beautiful Things. I lost sleep reading this one. No matter who’s written to Sugar and no matter their concerns, Sugar consistently writes with unabashed rawness and tenderness. Every enclosed letter to and response from Sugar inspired me to meditate on the importance of being more open, more honest, and more true to myself and others. Reading Tiny Beautiful Things is like eating a bowl of ice cream that’s healthy for you. It’s sweet, but also nourishing. Plus, Hulu just adapted this one into a mini-series. What’s not to love?
I hope you get the chance to read these amazing books!