What I’ve Read This Summer

In the two months since I’ve turned in spring grades, I have written a lot, but I’ve also been reading a lot. Here’s what I’ve read so far:

H. Porter Abbott: Real Mysteries

This is the one “scholarly” book on the list, a work in the branch of literary criticism known as narratology. Abbott explores how the idea of the “unknown” works in narratives, creating drama and developing characters, among other effects.

Saint Augustine: The Confessions

When I finished rereading this, I thought, why read another “Christian” book? There’s so much insight and depth of thought. It’s exquisitely written. There’s so much for the reader to chew on. You read a paragraph, and you’re pondering the big questions along with Augustine.

T.C. Boyle: Stories II

This 900-page tome has close to 60 of his short stories, and I found them to be just as good as those in Stories, which I read several summers ago. Few contemporary short-fiction writers are as good as he is. Each story is its own world.

Willa Cather: Collected Stories

This was the next step after I finished her twelve novels. Just as in the novels, her prose is a pleasure to read, and she has a fine eye for details. In a month’s time I will be visiting   Red Cloud, Nebraska, where she spent much of her childhood.

Dave Eggers: The Circle

This book, along with the last book (the only other novel on the list), was difficult to put down. The lack of chapters certainly helped compel me forward, but more than that was the scenario that Eggers imagines that is eerily prescient, which is especially surprising because the book was published in 2013.

Jim Gaffigan: Dad is Fat

I’ve watched (and listened to) his comedy specials many times, and this book was a great listen because it was read by Gaffigan. His delivery is as good as in the specials. So funny.

Mary Karr: The Art of Memoir

While reading this book, I underlined so many sentences. I was already a fan of her work (having read her first two memoirs), and I found the book to be immensely helpful as I continue with my own book-length memoir.

Sylvia Plath: Ariel

Before I read this influential poetry collection, I’d only read a handful of Plath’s poems (and taught some as well). This volume shows such skill, and it wasn’t as dark as I expected it would be.

Richard Ford: Between Them

Every time a new Ford book is released I feel much anticipation. This book, however, is his first extended work of memoir, with the book divided into two sections, each half about one of his parents. Ford is an only child, as I am, and so it was interesting to read about his relationship with each of his parents.

Suzanne M. Wolfe: The Confessions of X

I’m not a particular fan of historical fiction, not that I hold anything against it. I just rarely read any. But this book–wow! Reading this book while also rereading The Confessions was a wonderful experience. I found the depiction of Augustine’s concubine (who is the main character and narrator) to be very authentic and moving. Highly recommended.

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