Article: Summer Reading List in the National PostJune 13, 2009
There is no summer for me. When I move house, I plug my wires into new walls. When the seasons change, I change what I wear at the computer. It’s a terrible life, but it’s what I’ve made. Furthermore, I seldom have the luxury of choosing what to read. Between my blogging and critical obligations, as well as the stack of friends’ neglected manuscripts on my desk, I can barely even pay attention to what’s actually out there to read for fun.
That said, on those rare occasions when I do allow a few rays from the sun to fry my pale Scots-Irish skin — for the sake of vitamin D, I tell myself, or to help the environment by reflecting more sunlight back into space — I like to have a variety of books that will challenge and delight.
Which ones I choose are based on a simple formula: entertainment + compulsion + delight = good read. What makes a book entertaining? You don’t want to put it down. What makes a book compelling? It challenges you to think. What makes a book delightful? When you do put it down you can’t stop thinking about it. Of course, you can’t tell if a book qualifies until after you’ve read it, which makes deciding which books to pack a risk.
With that in mind, I have a few recommendations (all of which steer clear of conglomerate press blockbusters — you can find those at the front of your big-box bookstores, right next to the scented candles). All my choices offer serious entertainment along with healthy doses of literary inquisitiveness and love of language.