NPR Summer Reading List

Post 85:

I was listening to NPR‘s Morning Edition on the way into work today and I caught a segment where some independent book sellers were giving their picks for a summer reading list, and I thought I would share it with all of you. Below are some of the ones I found most interesting:

My Mistress’ Sparrow is Dead edited by Jeffrey Eugenides

By placing James Joyce next to Denis Johnson, Chekov next to Grace Paley, Nabokov next to Lorrie Moore and Stuart Dybek next to Miranda July, Jeffrey Eugenides makes familiar voices fresh and new and invites us to read authors we might not have picked up otherwise. He edits like a fan, not a scholar, and isn’t afraid to pick favorites, which is exactly what makes this a book you’ll want to keep forever and give to all your friends.

See on LibraryThing – Buy on Amazon: My Mistress’s Sparrow Is Dead: Great Love Stories, from Chekhov to Munro

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

Set in 1946, on a failing farm in the Mississippi Delta, Mudbound is narrated by six characters who trade brutal prejudices and curse the circumstance that determine their fates. Struggling to raise her children on a mucky, isolated farm with her pragmatic husband and his sour, bigoted father, city-bred Laura McAllan welcomes the unexpected arrival of her charming young brother-in-law Jamie. But when Jamie forms a tentative friendship with the soldier son of the black sharecroppers on the McAllans’ land, the hateful precepts of the Jim Crow South draw the story to its inexorable conclusions. I’ve heard a lot about this book, it is supposed to be absolutely fantastic

See on LibraryThing – Buy on Amazon: Mudbound

What Happened to Anna K. by Irina Reyn

Irina Reyn’s deft debut novel dusts off Tolstoy’s great 19th-century romantic heroine and re-imagines her as a complex — yet still dreamy-eyed — modern woman of today.

All the elements of Tolstoy’s moralistic epic are evident, transplanted to New York, particularly to the Russian émigré community in Queens: Anna enters a bland marriage to an older man (a regulation Russian businessman); she develops a passion for an enthralling lover (David, a would-be writer); and there is even a suggestion of a train station — naturally, Penn Station.

Yet this novel is no more a strict homage than a pale modernization; Moscow-born and Brooklyn-based Reyn creates in Anna a fully formed character, whose dreams and realities clash like the two cities that make Reyn such an observant, wry writer.

See on LibraryThing – Buy on Amazon: What Happened to Anna K.: A Novel

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows

London, 1946. Juliet Ashton, having published a collection of quaint wartime newspaper columns, is searching for her next, more proper subject when a letter arrives from the small island of Guernsey off the English Channel.

The correspondent explains he has come into possession of a book of hers, and an exchange of letters begins. As they banter about books and life, Julia is soon exchanging letters with other islanders, too. What might continue like an amiable BBC comedy turns more serious as the islanders reveal the origins of their unique literary society.

See on LibraryThingBuy on Amazon

You can read excerpts of all of these and the rest of the books on the NPR website. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to try to pick all of these up!

11 comments to NPR Summer Reading List

  • Wasn’t Mudbound an LT Early Reviewer book? It looked familiar when it came up on the “new books” RSS feed at my local library (which I subscribe to, because I am a giant nerd), so it’s on my list of holds.

    Also, at some point I’m going to have to get my hands on The Story of a Marriage by Andrew Sean Greer. I read The Confessions of Max Tivoli last summer, and although it wasn’t mind-blowingly fantastic, it was good enough to make me want to read more of Greer’s stuff.

  • I think it was, although it was before my ER time. It has also been featured on NPR a TON. And I think it won the award Barbara Kingsolver gives for socially conscious fiction.

  • I’m all over the collection edited by Jeffrey Eugenides. It sounds wonderful – especially the range of literary voices. I am really interested in Miranda July, but I’ve never gotten around to purchasing anything yet.

  • kegsoccer

    Lol, I’m totally the opposite of Literate Housewife. I’m all for the last three books, especially “What Happened to Anna K.” !

  • I would probably love What Happened to Anna K – if I could only finish Anna K first! :)

  • Why, oh why, do you give me more books to want to read when I can’t even get through the ones I have now? :) Have you discovered the “1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die” list? Probably… I’m generally behind-the-times on much of this stuff…

  • There’s a whole group for that list on LibraryThing. There’s also a blog challenge some people do called the “1% Well Read Challenge” to read 1% of those books.

  • I am going to have to explore the LibraryThing groups a lot more closely than I have been. I wonder how close I might be to the 1%?

    Speaking of which we need to figure out our contest. This weekend I’ll think about it some and email you. We can brainstorm and come up with the structure and announce it when you’re finally a newlywed.

  • Jessica

    Love NPR. Love summer reading lists. Love your blog. Of the list, Mudbound (I first spelled out “Mudblood,” thank you Harry Potter) and My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead look the most intriguing to me. Thanks for the post.

  • inkhornplatypus

    It cracks me up that Eugenides chose My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead as the title of a book of love stories. Based on the authors he’s picked, I’m reasonably intrigued, even though I’m not a big short story fan. What cracks me up, though, is that the poem that the name refers to isn’t so much a love poem as a thinly disguised discussion of sex and sexuality. And if I know that (from my college Latin classes), I’m quite certain that Eugenides did too. Makes me wonder what kind of love stories he choose to include, and how many might be on the risque side. For anyone not familiar with the poem he’s referencing, it’s by Catallus, one of my favorite Roman poets. If you’re into love poetry and occasionally raunchy poems, check him out, making sure you get a new, more liberal translation because a lot of the old ones try to gloss over the double-entendres.

  • Inkhornplatypus –
    I didn’t know that, although I HAD been wondering where on earth he got the title. I was looking around after you said that and found out that all sales benefit a writing program for kids in Chicago. Now I may have to go and buy that new, instead of waiting for it in Half Price Books or on BookMooch.