As June arrives, the summer is just beginning and so should your summer reading habits. Dip your toe into the water and wait for the temperature to get just right - these titles will help you take the plunge into the summer reading pool.
This week's selections:
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Last week, for the second time, we got to watch David Sedaris perform at Princeton's McCarter Theater. So my first summer book pick is an easy one: I want to encourage anyone who has never read David Sedaris's work to pick up one of his many hilarious, and thought-provoking, collection of essays where Sedaris explores his own hang-ups, his family's hang-ups, and the often shallow motivations for all human behavior. Most of the time these collections are just Sedaris sharing his cruel, obsessive, endearing, and (very) relatable look at life. To make this reading experience even better, you get to read work from an unbelievable talent.
When I was in high school, my friend Andrea and I attended a writer's workshop in our school library. The leader of the workshop was none other than Megan McCafferty (her mother was our Home Economics teacher) and I was so nervous and proud that she would take time out of her Jessica Darling series to teach us how to be a writer - like her! She asked us to read a short story written by David Sedaris, an author we had never heard of at the time. It was a piece from Naked, and - no hyperbolic language intended here - it changed our lives. I didn't know a person could write this way - so honest about his life and his thoughts and make it into a larger-than-life prose. I didn't know that a writer could use humor in this way. My love affair for David Sedaris's work began that day and shows no sign of slowing down (my students love him - I'm always assigning his essays for them to read, but their favorites are "Me Talk Pretty One Day" and "Jesus Shaves"). The proudest day of my writing life: after reading my own work at a student reading series, someone came up to me and said, "You remind me of my favorite author David Sedaris."
I know I suggested all of his work, but it IS summer, so I highly recommend Me Talk Pretty One Day. This collection focuses on his childhood and also his failed attempt to learn French after he and his partner make the decision to move to France. This particular collection is not only laugh-out-loud funny (if anyone catches you, just say that you are reading David Sedaris, and they will understand), but an emotionally rewarding read as well. Reading this book is the same as catching up with a very weird, yet honest, best friend. However, sometimes you wish his best friend wouldn't be so honest. Because it can get weird. And funny.
My one warning: if you read this in public, be prepared to make new friends.
Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba
When putting together a summer reading list, it seems like an off choice to include a book where each chapter is a different story about how the main character might have died at various stages in his life. Yet, to overlook Daytripper would be doing your reading list a huge disservice.
Taking place throughout Moon and Ba's native Brazil, the book captures the beauty of the country in a way that feels both familiar and magical at the same time. And even those who have never gotten a chance to experience the country (myself for example), will still find themselves feeling nostalgic and yearning to lay out under the sun on the beaches of Salvador or walk the streets of San Paulo under the moonlight.
Still though, with all this in mind, I recommend this book for an entirely different reason. I recommend it because Father's Day is only a few days away, and at its heart, Daytripper is a story about a father and a son, of their legacies and what each can hope to learn from the other. It's an earnest look at the characters relationship that hits right to the heart. I actually remember doing a signing once around the time the book came out, I was talking with one of the other creators, and he admitted, having just become a father for the first time, bawling uncontrollably by the end because he was so moved. So for all the fathers and sons out there celebrating this weekend, consider taking a trip south of the equator to celebrate the special bond you share.