Franz Kafta once wrote that “a book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us”. Here are few summer reads that thawed the ground where I stood.
The Course of Love (2016) by Alain de Botton
My friend and I chose this book to read first in our 2-person book club. As soon as we both had the book in hand, we started gluing passages to each other. “FUCKING LOVE THIS BOOK”, she at one point texted to me. I couldn’t agree more. De Botton manages to weave his philosophy of love into a tale of two lovers. Elements include the initial infatuation, marriage, children, an affair and ultimately, learning to grow wholly together. His message? We are all only normal to those who don’t know us yet. His take on the novel here.
My Name is Lucy Barton (2016) by Elizabeth Strout
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb in his skin and walk around in it”, said Atticus Finch. This holds incredibly true in My Name is Lucy Barton. The main character, addressed fittingly in the title, recounts as a middle-aged married woman and mother in her hospital bed her impoverished childhood in vignettes. The plot is ignited when her distant mother visits. What begins as innocuous conversation between the two spirals into a tale of abuse, neglect, selfless abandonment and, surprisingly, beautiful ignorance. A tremendously poignant story cloaked in simple language.
The Girls (2016) by Emma Cline
I can best describe Emma Cline’s writing as silky.The only book I’ve ever pre-ordered, her literature creeps up and touches your awareness suddenly and convincingly, tapping into the true core of horror writing. Her publisher supposedly decided to take on the oeuvre after reading the three page prologue, ending with the passage: “The sun spiked through the trees, like always- the drowsy willows, the hot wind gusting over the picnic blankets- but the familiarity of the day was disturbed by the path the girls cut across the regular world. Sleek and thoughtless as sharks breaching the water.” Wowza.
Tender is the Night (1934) by F. Scott Fitzgerald
How can I not include the master of infatuation and tragedy? This is the apex of melancholic seaside literature. On the main character, Dick Diver: “Save among a few of the tough-minded and perennially suspicious, he had the power of arousing a fascinated and uncritical love. The reaction came when he realized the waste and extravagance involved. He sometimes looked back with awe at the carnivals of affection he had given, as a general might gaze upon a massacre he had ordered to satisfy an impersonal blood lust”(27). Fitzgerald’s writing makes the reader at once desire to become and ravishly destroy his characters.
(Marilyn via Awesome People Reading)