Recently, I made a pact with my brain. That over summer I would spend more time reading than Netflixing. Netflix, my best fake friend, is a great tool for relaxing, especially after a 23 credit semester, say, by me. And, oh, I wanted to veg-out on Netflix more than my hipster neighbor wanted rollerblades. But I made a pact, and pacts are serious.
Previous post-semester breaks have included many veg-out TV series marathons (8 seasons of 24 and 9 seasons of How I Met Your Mother come to mind). To be Frank, I’ve still been enjoying Netflix in moderate occasions: a Sherlock episode here, a Comedy Bang-Bang there. But moderate is where I’m trying to keep it. It’s time to take a break from marathon Netflix summers and, instead, marathon some books.
And the readings have been excellent so far.
If you are looking for some great books to read, then please, read these. We can talk about them together and start a cool kid reading club. Maybe you’ve read a few. Maybe you’ll have a little catching up to do. Maybe you can pick and choose. Either way, join my club. It will be ultra hip and hella sick. We’ll watch The Pagemaster together at the end of summer, and it will be fun.
Kevin’s Ultra Hip (Hella Sick) Summer Book Club
1. The Stand by Stephen King – Completed
I just finished this one the other night, and I had never felt so accomplished. 1200 breathtaking pages. Technically though, it’s sort of cheating. I started the book back in December. The Stand is super long, and I had to wait till my semester was over to read most of it. But it was worth it! Also, Hollywood making a big budget movie. You could be ahead of the curve!
After Misery, The Stand is my favorite King book yet. There is an 800 page version out there, I hear. Don’t do it. Do the Director’s Cut. It’s an amazing read.
2. Civilwarland in Bad Decline by George Saunders – Completed
What can I say about George Saunders that hasn’t probably been said a million times by all who have read him? Probably nothing. The man is a great teller of awkward, human stories with a twist of dark fantasy. Civilwarland is a collection of short stories, the title story of which, will leave you staring at the page, reflecting, and screaming for more.
I also recently read his novella, “The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil,” which I would also highly recommend.
3. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway – Completed
I picked this up in Brooklyn from a street side vendor during my recent NYC Weekend (Ultimate) Warrior trip. I had been meaning to read it ever since I was introduced to Hemingway’s work last year. It’s a beautiful, exciting, and heart-wrenching tale of aging, commitment, and respect. And of course fishing. There’s a lot of fishing.
The good news is that it’s technically a novella. So if you’re looking for a short read that you could probably knock out in a day, this would be a great one to go after.
4. The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho – Completed
The Alchemist is my boss’s favorite book. I read it because he suggested it and also because you can learn a lot about someone by reading their favorite book. I had no idea it was an international best-selling phenomenon until after I read the introduction.
What did I learn about my boss? He’s driven, spiritual, and really wants to go on a quest that leads him to the pyramids. Maybe. While Paolo Coelho’s writing quality, at times, leaves something to be desired, I still had fun reading Santiago’s journey for treasure and personal fulfillment. It’s also another quick read for people looking for something light.
5. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Vern – Completed
I bought the book in a thrift store (maybe a garage sale) almost five years ago. I carried it with me in my guitar case and it has been with me through many good times. Finally, it’s time to read it.
I just started 20,000 Leagues, but I’m already sucked in, or should I say under? Really though, Jules Verne was a master, and I feel honored to be able to read his work. It’s amazing how modern the book feels. Maybe timeless is a better word? Let’s do timeless.
6. Sanctuary by William Faulkner – In Progress
Last year, I read Absalom, Absalom! by the master, William Faulkner. It was one of the most challenging books I’ve ever read. Faulkner’s prose takes itself seriously, and you need to take it seriously as well. There’s no room lazy reading.
Thankfully, Sanctuary looks to be a little lighter of a read. From what I hear, it’s a classic, detective mystery type of novel from the 1930s, Faulkner’s easy money book, his potboiler. Still, Faulkner’s low quality, I imagine, should still eclipse most writer’s best work.
7. Delight in Disorder by Tony Roberts
I cannot wait to read this one by my blogging friend Tony Roberts. I’ve read a healthy serving, already, through PDF; however, I decided to wait to finish it until I got a physical copy, which I always prefer. It’s a highly personal and deeply spiritual collection of reflections, prayers, meditations, and memories from his years of serving in ministry while battling mental health.
Now that I’ve got mine, I’m gearing up. Can’t wait! If you don’t prefer psychical copies like I do, I’d take advantage of the $3.99 Kindle price that Amazon has right now.
8. The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton
I really don’t know what to expect from this one. I hear it’s a classic; I’m sure it is. One of Crichton’s other sci-fi novels, Sphere, which I read last year, blew me away. I couldn’t put it down.
Here’s to hoping “The Andromeda Strain” lives up to my expectations. I’m sure it will. Crichton was a master sci-fi storyteller. At some point, I’d love to read the Jurassic Park series too.
9. 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
100 Years was already on my summer reading list, and then I found it at a garage sale for 25 cents. How neat is that?
I first read Marquez in my short fiction class, “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World.” What a gift this man had. Sadly, he passed away this year. What better way to respect his memory than to read his most respected book? I’ll say. 100 Years also played a huge role in his Nobel Prize for Literature.
10. The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning
Like The Stand, this one has been on my bedside table since forever. What can I say, this last semester kicked my butt. Technically, my wife and I are reading this one together. We need to get back on the Ragamuffin wagon.
From what I’ve read so far, it’s quite amazing. A great read for someone looking for a fresh (and yet distant) perspective on Christianity, spiritualism, and the Church.
Wow! I’m honored. And to be sandwiched between Faulkner’s genius and Crichton’s appeal, some major mojo should rub off. Thanks, my friend.
I’ve been listening to audio books at night to experience great literature while still resting my aging and weary eyes. I think I will get a copy of “The Stand” on your recommendation. I’ve never given Steven King a chance.
Two recommendations I have for you if you are looking for supplemental brief readings would be “Aimless Love” — a collection of poetry by Billy Collins and “I Sing the Body Electric” — a collection of shorts by Ray Bradbury.