Today is June 1st, which means today is also the beginning of summer! In theory, at least. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that today is the beginning of the summer months… yeah, let’s go with that.
I get excited about summer for a lot of reasons, among the most prominent being the opportunity to plan out what I’ll be reading during the summer months. Who has two thumbs and is still an English major book nerd? This girl! During college I would always make a reading list for myself for each school break, and while I don’t get a winter break or spring break anymore, summer still always feels like a break season even when I’m working and thus I keep making summer reading lists. I’ll probably add more books to this list later, but for now, here are five books I’m excited to dive into this summer.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
I just started reading this a couple days ago, and it’s absolutely enthralling. Skloot digs into the history of HeLa cells, the cells responsible for some of the biggest breakthroughs in medicine, by examining the life of Henrietta Lacks, the young black woman whose cells were taken by doctors without permission and later became the immortal HeLa cells. The craziest part? Henrietta’s family didn’t find out about her immortal cells until twenty-five years after her death, and haven’t seen a dime from the multi-million dollar human biological materials industry that Henrietta’s cells helped create. It’s a story that’s stranger than fiction and one that is set to pose some serious questions about race, class and bioethics that I’m really interested to read about.
The Complete Works of Lewis Carroll by Lewis Carroll
Would you believe that I’ve never read any of Lewis Carroll’s work? Sad, but true. My brother bought me Carroll’s collected works a couple Christmases ago and I’m really excited to finally read Alice in Wonderland (one of my favorite Disney films) and Through The Looking Glass as well as some of his lesser-known works. Summer is a time for magic and whimsy, and The Complete Works of Lewis Carroll should provide just that.
Rilke & Andreas-Salome: A Love Story in Letters (translated by Edward Snow and Michael Winkler)
This collection of letters between poet Rainer Maria Rilke and writer Lou Andreas-Salome spans more than twenty-five years and sheds a nuanced light on a relationship that is part friendship, part literary mentorship, and part love affair. I love epistles (letter-writing is a lost art!) and these letters already hold a special place in my heart because a piece of one of Rilke’s letters to Andreas-Salome served as a cornerstone of the early days of mine and Nate’s relationship, so needless to say, I’m looking forward to reading all of their correspondence.
Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman
From Amazon.com: “With a notebook stashed in her diaper bag, Druckerman – a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal – sets out to learn the secrets to raising a society of good little sleepers, gourmet eaters, and reasonably relaxed parents. She discovers that French parents are extremely strict about some things and strikingly permissive about others. And she realizes that to be a different kind of parent, you don’t just need a different parenting philosophy. You need a very different view of what a child actually is.” Though I’m not a parent and have no designs on being a parent anytime soon, I do find different parenting techniques really fascinating (especially after being an au pair for badly behaved children) and am interested to see if there’s anything revolutionary that we Americans can learn from the French about parenting.
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
Aside from being one of the most buzzed-about works of fiction in recent memory, everyone I know who has read this book has truly raved about how excellent it is. In what has been described as a blue-collar American epic, Franzen “comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of liberty: the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire.” Intrigued? Because I sure am! I’ve only ever read Franzen’s non-fiction work, but I’m excited to read his fiction that has garnered him a place among the most revered contemporary American writers of our time. Go Franzen!