I know, I am being optimistic. Tackle two full reading lists during the summer? Because, frankly, my number one rule for the summer is to get out and stay out as much as possible on your free time. Play, run barefoot and get your hands dirty (in the sand, in the garden, in the park), get wet (the sea, a pool, a hose, a sprinkle, anything will do), stare at the clouds, do a lot whole of nothing. Doing nothing now and then is good for you – I admit I am not very good at this, nor is it very possible with a toddler around, but that’s another story. And then, you know, real life happens every day.
So that only leaves me time to read at night (and every chance I get on weekends and these chances can be very few depending on my cinephile interests). Yes, my schedule is a mess and I could use much more sleep than I am getting, but I’ve got to have my daily dose of reading. Plus, Vlad keeps recommending me good books. But the good news is that I am a fast reader, so here are a few more books I am onto now. You should try to read something that isn’t digital, too. Even if it’s just one book this summer, it counts, or a good magazine with proper articles (see below). Words on a paper page. Actual reading that requires attention and focus. Being present.
Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers & Swells, edited by Graydon Carter. Now, is that a book title or what? An anthology of essays from the Roaring Twenties, the early golden age of Gatsby, which showcases 72 great pieces written between 1913 and 1936 in the pages of Vanity Fair by an incomparable slate of literary names, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, D.H. Lawrence, e.e. cummings, Thomas Mann, Gertrude Stein, Noël Coward, T.S. Eliot and Dorothy Parker. All were published under the editorialship of Frank Crowninshield in a time when Vanity Fair was a literary and visual treasure of the Jazz Age. The way magazines were. The long, thought-provoking, mentality-changing, wit-abounding articles. The cultural values of the 20th century reign supremely high over the celebrity culture of the 21st century.
Room to Dream, by David Lynch and Kristine McKenna. I am well into David Lynch’s memoir, an unprecedented look into the personal and creative life of the visionary film-maker, and it is bound to become one of my favourites of the kind. I can not wait to urge you to get a copy for yourselves once I’ve finished it.
Two Serious Ladies, by Jane Bowles. I was looking for Paul Bowles’ The Sheltering Sky when I was recommended this book. I had never read it (it’s Jane Bowles’ only novel) and Ali Smith provides the perfect send-off: “Readers who’ve not yet read Jane Bowles have all the delight, the shock of classic originality, the revelation of such good writing, still to come.” I wish they kept the original cover though (me and my thing for book covers…). What a pair these two were, Paul and Jane Bowles. In M Train, Patti Smith writes: “Paul Bowles once said that Tangier is a place where the past and the present exist simultaneously in proportionate degree. […] I saw a bit of Tangier myself first through his work…” The power of books.
The Way of the World, by Nicolas Bouvier. Deemed a cult travelogue, the book, ten years in the writing, takes Bouvier and his friend, artist Thierry Vernet, through nineteen unforgettable months (during the 1950s) of travelling and discovery (of the world and of themselves). The route was from Switzerland across Eastern Europe and Asia to Afghanistan, pausing in Belgrade, Istanbul, Tabriz and Quetta to paint, write and wait tables. Introduction by Patrick Leigh Fermor.
The Beautiful Summer, by Cesare Pavese. I bought this one for the title. No, just (half-) kidding. Regardless of my always having been an avid reader, as a film lover who used to watch up to three movies a day (ah, those were the times), I would many times find myself first watch a film adapted from a book and read the book after. The same happened with Michelangelo Antonioni’s Le amiche based on Pavese’s novella Tra donne sole (Among Women Only). I first saw the film and I finally got to pick up the book not too long ago, which led me to this second one by the writer that won my interest.
Note: I love a beautiful book cover and I often judge a book by its cover, so “Room to Dream” and “The Way of the World” win this round, followed by “A Beautiful Summer”.
illustration by Katrin Coetzer , edited by Classiq / photos: Classiq