– Posted by Sarah W.
This summer The Seattle Public Library, in partnership with Seattle Arts & Lectures, is excited to offer a summer reading program for adults called Summer Book Bingo! In order to help you along on your quest to complete your bingo sheet, we have pulled together some book suggestions based on each category. Follow this series throughout the summer!
Why is it that so many books sit gathering dust on my shelf? Sometimes I bite off more than I can chew – a buying frenzy at the local bookstore leaves me with more volumes on my nightstand than I can manage in that hour or so before sleep. But there are usually other factors at play. Maybe there is an author I like, but the book I bought is a departure from what they usually write (and what I usually read). There are also those well-meaning friends and family members that insist I take this book that made such a deep impression on them, and even though it is nothing like what I enjoy reading, I can’t bring myself to extinguish their enthusiasm by saying that I think it looks as exciting as reading about paint drying. There is also the gap between what I think I “should” be reading – classics, challenging literary novels, books in Spanish to improve my language skills – and what I want to have in my hand as I sun myself on the shores of Lake Washington, i.e. vampire romance. This summer, though, I have dedicated myself to finishing off the following dusty books.
The Braindead Megaphone by George Saunders
I love all of George Saunders’ sincerely cynical, wise, strange, and bizarrely funny short story collections, which is why I picked up this paperback. According to reviewers, these essays convey his signature satirical wit laced with humanity as he writes about his travels, politics, and writers like Twain and Vonnegut, all in a conversational and accessible tone. But…essays? I never sit around reading essays!
The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie
I often like books that transport me to the far ends of the earth or the furthest reaches of the galaxy, where the only limits are my imagination. So this short story collection (enthusiastically leant to me some time ago), chronicling the often bleak everyday life on the Spokane Indian Reservation, is not my usual read. Alexie’s wry humor, compassion, and lyrical prose soften the sadness present in these stories and carry the reader along. I can only seem to read one at a time, though, before the grim humor starts to get to me.
Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke
I should like Arthur C. Clarke, right? He’s a genius, right? This classic science fiction novel is a masterwork that reads like a fable or a religious text, making sweeping insights into what it means to be human and our greater purpose in the universe, right? The 1953 novel is a timeless tale of first contact with aliens, Overlords far more advanced than the human race, who appear over every city on Earth one day. Benevolent and peaceful, they appear to help at first, but their appearance is the beginning of the end for mankind. The slim book should be a quick read. Then why can’t I get past page ten?! Perhaps the detached writing style and the plot-driven writing just don’t capture my attention the way that more character-driven writing does.
A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
This controversial history written by an impassioned activist sets out to tell a different version of American history than I was taught in school, a history of everyday people often oppressed by elites. Reviews on it are somewhat polarized, with some glad to finally hear a truthful account of history, and others characterizing it as a revisionist polemic. If I could just stay focused for all 700 pages, I would love to chime in on the debate.
The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño
From all accounts, this is a dense, literary, and sprawling book in any language. I tried to read it in its original Spanish – not my native language – and found it too arduous. The book, written by an expatriate Chilean author, follows two poets, Ulises Lima and Arturo Belano (a sort of alter ego of the author), as the young men found a literary movement they call “visceral realism” in 1970’s Mexico City. The book follows the lives and far-flung travels of the writers through testimonies from those who knew them. I plan to try the English translation, but perhaps after the rains come, along with the long hours wrapped up inside.
What books do you own, but had never read? Comment here, or tweet w/ #BookBingoNW.