As the season reaches its height, our staff shares their favorite summer reads.
Sometimes, it’s about embracing the heat and the light — and sometimes the darkness that’s awakened within ourselves.
I don’t know that Beloved is about summer, but I associate it with summer. Maybe because I read it one steamy and lethargic summer in New York. I remembered mostly the way Morrison writes about bodies–breathing, dying bodies pushed the human limits of extreme hunger, extreme thirst, extreme lust. You hear all sorts of legends of travelers in the desert, hallucinating, and there’s a hallucinatory splendor to Morrison’s prose. It glimmers in the heat.
— Geoff Mak, Fiction Editor
My favorite summer book would have to be The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. I honor Oscar every summer by picking up the book to relive his life.
— Casandra Hernandez, Assistant Managing Editor
My favorite summer read is Sommarboken (translated into English by Thomas Teal as The Summer Book) by the Finnish author Tove Jansson. She is mostly known for her children’s series about the family of Swedish-speaking Finnish Moomintrolls, and this adult novel takes that same surrealist whimsy and subverts it. She writes child characters so well and lets them know things that adults think they shouldn’t. In The Summer Book, young Sophia comes to understand death and loss. It’s dark and hard, but set in an ironically idyllic Finnish summer.
— Charles Lee, Assistant Editor, Translation
I still have vivid memories of Dandelion Wine, a short novel about a small town boy’s twelfth summer by Ray Bradbury, which I read when I was around that age; it was one of the first times I truly took notice of the beauty of an author’s language. And the Philip Marlowe novels: I read all them my first summer in New York City, and though they’re set in Los Angeles I always associate them with the Manhattan’s sultry, dense, maddening heat. Also the graphic novel Ghost World by Daniel Clowes — for me it has the exact feeling of an aimless adolescent summer feeling to it, as does the song it inspired by Aimee Mann.
— Darcy Cosper, Editor-in-Chief
Summer’s always been about muchness–trees overflowing with petals, glasses refilling with cocktails, hot men in very little clothing. There’s a certain luxuriousness of feeling and being that’s always been the joy, and my summer faves are all about feeling yourself emotionally, sexually, and aesthetically. André Aciman’s novel Call Me By Your Name is an amazing queer story about sex, loss, and haunting.
— Derrick Austin, Social Media Coordinator
The hot and humid weather has me craving torrid yet fleeting romances, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night, which opens in the summertime on the French Riviera. As for something more modern, This One Summer — the graphic novel by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki — is a perfect coming-of-age story.
— Mimi Wong, Assistant Editor, Enumerate