My summer reading started a little lopsided.
It began with me racing through the final chapters of the second novel in Elena Ferrante’s "Neapolitan" series, and then, some weeks ago, with barely a break, I (triumphantly) cracked open the third.
Last week, however, I threw a new one into the mix (it may have had something to do with the fear of Ferrante fatigue creeping in), and the recommendation came from no less than six friends. Daisy Jones & The Six tells the blow-by-blow story of a renowned ‘70s rock band from formation all the way up to their infamous split. I’m halfway through, and now super invested in a band that never existed and a musical landscape—replete with unbridled excesses—that I never inhabited.
Some of the headiness of that novel seems to have rubbed off on me, because I'm suddenly very optimistic about fitting a few more solids reads into summer—even if we're just past the halfway point. So, I asked the Food52 team to jump in with their recommendations. If you’re still looking for inspiration, just scroll down. And don’t forget to tell us what’s on your list—for bed, beach, and backyard reading alike.
My recommendation is Vacationland by John Hodgman, which is a humorous, and very real, look at what New England summers are like. I was at once transported to my own summers from the past—characters in the book almost perfectly mirror characters I've encountered. Certain parts hit a little too close to home though, like how in New England, there's definitely a feeling of “owning” our beach towns—we’re not always welcoming to newcomers.
For months I’ve been telling people that I’m reading Pachinko, which I am—it’s just taking me forever because I only read on my commute to, and from, work. I’d also love to get through Dune (finally), before the movie comes out, and I usually read a Harry Potter or two at the beach, as well.
I’m finishing up Lie With Me by Phillippe Besson (translated from French by Molly Ringwald). It’s a really great portrayal of restraint versus repression—against the backdrop of a first love. I’m also very excited to start The Plant Messiah, which my turtle guy recommended to me which is about… rare and endangered plants.
(Rebecca, I may have a question about the “turtle guy.”)
I just got a copy of Taffy Brodesser-Akner's novel Fleishman Is in Trouble, and am saving it for as soon as I hit the beach. I've loved reading her celebrity profiles for years and I can't wait to see what she does with fictional characters.
I just picked up Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk. I’d never heard of it before, but the book cover was really cool, and the name was intense. It turned out to be a really fun Miss Marple-ish thriller about an old woman living in the remote woods in Poland, who becomes increasingly upset at the extent of deforestation and animal abuse. Not a spoiler alert: The forest decides to get even.
While visiting The National Gallery a couple of weeks ago, I snagged a copy of Charlotte by David Foenkinos—it’s the story of a Jewish artist who painted a series of autobiographical works before her death in Auschwitz. While that sounds really bleak, it also promises to be a triumphant tribute to the power of art.
I also finally pulled A Little Life off my shelf after months of waiting for the right time to cry on my morning commute. I’m an eighth of the way in, and the pages still haven’t been water-damaged, but I know it’s just around the corner. (Wish I could say it wasn’t so, Maggie.)
I recently watched the Quentin Tarantino film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood that stirred something in me and made me want to read Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi (about the Manson murders) a second time. It's such a well-reported and wonderfully written deep dive into the life and circumstances of this fascinating (but extremely destructive) man and movement.
My best friend just lent me her copy of Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah's Friday Black, and I'm already hooked. I look forward to canceling all of my weekend plans to finish it.
I'm really trying to read the "Neapolitan novels" by Elena Ferrante this summer (finally)....I've been trying for years! I've had a bunch of people tell me that I'd love them, but also that the first one is the hardest to get through. I'm determined to make it happen this summer—I just keep getting distracted by easier and quicker reads.