Lists, Reviews

The Long, Hot Summer: A Top Ten List

I’m going to complain about the weather (the same weather I just joyously celebrated the arrival of). I’m officially boring. For eight months of the year, it snows (October-May). I don’t like snow. For the rest of the year, it’s hot. If I had access to any type of cooling system, I might not complain, but I don’t. I sleep on the top floor of a Cape Cod. This refers, rather unfortunately, to the architectural style in which the home is built and not the location. And while Dirty Dancing makes 90 degrees at midnight (with the crickets chirping and the wind rustling through the trees) look romantic on screen – I assure you it’s not. There’s nothing cute about sticking your head in the freezer at 2 am for a modicum of relief.

Beach Reading

Just stick me wherever she is….

However, the upcoming season is synonymous with beach reading (as hosted by The Broke and The Bookish). While beach reading is typically associated with books of a lighter nature, that’s not really my style (if I can be said to have a style). So here are ten books to read during this long, hot summer – both classic and contemporary selections – in no particular order.

10. Islands in the Stream by Ernest Hemingway. Certainly not essential Hemingway, but it has a so-bad-it’s-good vibe going for it and some of the drunkest sex you’ll ever read (shouldn’t even have been humanly possible, but there it is…).

9. In the Tall Grass by Stephen King and Joe Hill. Admittedly, parts of this novella are gory, but there are dirty limericks to be found. Also poignantly illustrates why I’ll never stop at a deserted Kansas rest area. Ever. Except that one time

8. The Fun Parts by Sam Lipsyte. If you prefer to laugh at the dark side of life (let’s call it satiric tragicomedy), Lipsyte is a good option. Warning: has boy humor. And this apt-for-Rory line:

I sound like the narrator of a mediocre young adult novel from the eighties. Which is, in fact, what I am.

7. A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams. Perhaps the only traditional pick on this list, but I need someone to remind me that there is such thing as happily ever after (of course, maybe I should read less Stephen King and more Nora Roberts). Bonus: lots of gin and pretty dresses.

6. Love Is a Canoe by Ben Schrank. Remember that summer you found out your husband was a philandering asshat? Or when you tried to save your marriage by visiting an elderly, emotional con-man who erroneously compared marriage to canoeing? No? Then read this book, it’s one release from 2013 I wish had gotten more attention.

5. Straight Man by Richard Russo. A hilarious look at campus life and the absurdity that is academia politics. I’m not a professor, but I was a teaching assistant in grad school and I currently have the pleasure of being a field mentor for a local university’s graduate program. Did you get that pleasure is supposed to be read sarcastically?

4. Abide With Me by Sabin Willett. Sometimes a summer romance is unforgettable and its end can cause unimaginable consequences. This is a modern (and perhaps better?) retelling of Wuthering Heights.

3. The Hamlet by William Faulkner. The Long, Hot Summer, starring Paul Newman at his finest, was partially based on the first entry into Faulkner’s Snopes trilogy. Below is an example of ONE sentence of what you’re in for:

It was that amateurish, that almost childlike, lack of premeditation and plan or even foresight of one who, depending on manipulation and not intellect in games of chance, finds himself involved in one where dexterity cannot avail, yet nevertheless attempting to cheat even at bald and simple draughts with an incredible optimism, an incorrigible dishonesty, long since become pure reflex and probably now beyond his control, making his dashing and clumsy moves then withdrawing his closed fist to sit watching with his little intent unwinking eyes the still, wasted, down-looking face opposite, talking steadily about almost everything except money and death, the fist resting on the table-edge still closed about the pawn or king’s crown which it had palmed.

You’ll feel smarter for it – promise.

2. Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead. A whale explodes, an absolute cad falls from a rooftop, and there’s a New England summer wedding – a dryly humorous must read.

1. Donnybrook by Frank Bill. For those who like gritty, hillbilly literature – this one’s for you. If you read my review you’ll learn practically everything you ever needed to know about me and the etymology of the word donnybrook.

The weather is making it very easy for me to complain, it was over 100F today and will be a bit warmer tomorrow. It’s still spring mind you. I would pay an obscene amount of money for air conditioning, though not $22,000, which is what I was quoted.

Image found here – original source unknown.

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