2014 Summer Reading List

by K.M. Zahrt

Summer is moving along fast, folks. And with our big holiday approaching quickly, it’s time we shared our summer reading ideas so you have the right book to read over the Fourth of July weekend. My reading lists are below along with some other suggestions.


Winner of The Believer Book Award

Winner of The Believer Book Award

Recently Finished & Reading Now

1. Bobcat and Other Stories by Rebecca Lee (2013) — recently finished
This book won this year’s The Believer Book Award, a selection I read every year. This is an entertaining, easy read that doesn’t sacrifice intellectual engagement, which makes it ideal for summer lounging.

2. Mark Twain: Man in White: The Grand Adventure of his Final Years by Michael Shelton (2010)reading now
An old famous man + known for high jinks + has nothing left to lose = a real life Tom Sawyer = a really fun summer read.

3. Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever? by Dave Eggers (2014)reading now
Look for a review to appear on Michiganders Post sometime in the near future.


Summer Reading List

1. Frog Music by Emma Donoghue (2014)
This new book comes from the international bestselling author of Room (2010), which was a finalist for the Booker Prize. Early reviews suggest this book is even better.

2. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (2013)
This is the latest novel from popular author Donna Tartt and is the latest winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

3. Harvest by Jim Crace (2013)
This book was short-listed for the Booker Prize and looks really interesting.

4. NW by Zadie Smith (2012)
At age 38, Zadie Smith already has an impressive list of works, making her one of our contemporary British writers to keep an eye on. Her latest novel, NW (considering The Embassy of Cambodia from 2013 as a novella), was one of NYT Book Review‘s 10 Best Books of 2012.

Antopol named one of the National Book Foundation's "5 Under 35"

Antopol named one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35”

5. Plato at the GooglePlex by Rebecca Goldstein (2014)
This book, along with the next book on this list, is intended to help me fulfill my non-fiction reading requirements for the summer. For both, I don’t know what to tell you other than they look interesting to me, so I plan to check them out.

6. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert (2014)
See entry for Plato at the GoolePlex above.

7. To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris (2014)
As a counterpoint to Zadie Smith above, American writer Joshua Ferris is also not yet 40 (age 39) and has a large catalog of writing to his credit. He is known for his 2007 novel Then We Came to the Endbut I find the plot of this new novel more appealing, so I’ll look to start there.

8. The UnAmericans by Molly Antopol (2014)
Last year, the National Book Foundation considered Antopol one of the five best writers under the age of 35. Also, as a new father, I’ve recently discovered that short-story collections can be good alternatives to trying to find time for a full book. This is her debut collection, and it looks like a good one.

9. Worst. Person. Ever. by Douglas Coupland (2014)
The jacket description bills this book as “side-splittingly funny and gloriously filthy.” Alright, I’m intrigued. I’ll give it a try.


First edition cover art from 1957

First edition cover art from 1957

Been Meaning To Get To Books

1. Falling Man by Don DeLillo (2007)
One of DeLillo’s books I have yet to read, but will. Other titles on that list would include Mao II (1992) and Libra (1991).

2. The Ghost Road by Pat Barker (1995)
This book is the Booker Prize-winning conclusion to Barker’s outstanding Regeneration Trilogy. I read the second book, The Eye in the Door (1993), last year, so it’s time to get around to finishing the series.

3. Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov (1957)
Similar to DeLillo, I have plenty of Nabokov’s books to get to yet, and similar to Barker, it’s time to circle back. Since Pnin was the novel that followed Lolita (1955), I think it’s the logical next stop on the Nabokov tour.


Other Suggestions

1. An Instrument for Leaving by Monika Zobel (2014)
For more on this title, check out Brandon James Anderson’s review of this book of poetry on Michiganders Post as well as a preview of his interview with her that will appear in full in the inaugural issue of Old Northwest Review this fall.

2. Equilateral by Ken Kalfus (2013)
This book topped my list of books read in 2013.

Now available in paperback

Now available in paperback

3. I’ve Had Bigger and Other Things My Wife Said by Jeff Rice (2014)
If it wasn’t good, we wouldn’t have published it. It’s a fun and relaxing read. If you don’t believe me, follow the link for further reviews. Even my mom rolled off the couch laughing at these pranks, and she’s not the target audience for this sort of thing.

4. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (2013)
See my full review from last December for more on this wonderfully executed book.

5. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (2013)
This is the most recent book to take home the Booker Prize. From what I’ve read, it’s probably not my thing, but it could definitely be one of your new favorites.

6. Odd Man Outlaw by K.M. Zahrt (2014)
Similar to Jeff Rice’s book above, I wouldn’t let this book go to print with my name on it if I wasn’t willing to stand by it, and I would recommend reading it in the summertime for the best ambiance. If you give it a try, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

7. Ten Years in the Tub by Nick Hornby (2013)
This is a collection of ten years of Nick Hornby’s phenomenal column, Stuff I’ve Been Reading. Along with advice and analysis on books and life, you’ll find a lifetime of leads for your next favorite book.

Please share your current selections or summer favorites with us below.

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