I don’t really believe in this as a way to categorize books, but I definitely cherish it as a way to name experience. “Summer reading” means, for me, the time of the activity rather than its content. For in summer, thanks to the academic schedule, the schedule I’ve lived for almost all of my life, the schedule that is at once the best and worst thing about my life, I have the luxury of time to really read.
When it comes to reading I am governed by opposed, almost equally powerful imperatives: on the one hand, the felt need to catch up with some author or period or genre for a writing project or class I’ll be teaching and, on the other, the desire to be led down whatever wayward readerly paths fancy and happenstance take me. The latter usually wins out, but not without the guilty throbs of the former. (Actually, it’s more complicated than that, because the things I feel I should read are also things I want to read, just maybe not right now.)
So here are some things I plan to read this summer, even though of course I won’t:
Something by Victor Serge
More Israeli fiction
Parade’s End (had to put on hold 100 pp in due to vacation and deadlines)
The Long Ships (Frans Bengtsson)
Madame Bovary (definitely happening, because my Proust reading group is transforming into a 19th century French literature group)
The rest of the Martin Beck series (only read volumes 1-4)
Those new Kafka biographies
Pawel’s biography of Herzl
The Levant Trilogy (Olivia Manning) (Read the first volume last summer; excited to finish, especially after now having been to Jerusalem)
The Odd Women (George Gissing)
Esther Waters (George Moore)
Jenny Davidson’s new book on sentences
Elizabeth George (stevereads made me curious)
Dance to the Music of Time (Anthony Powell)
Stay tuned to find out what I actually read!
And you? What’s on your list?