The start of the summer holidays usually means, for me, also the beginning of golden reading weather.
Picture this - a nice strawberry daiquiri, the beach on a hot day, a bikini, lazing on the sand lost in the middle of a great book. Of course, in this particular literary fantasy, I also have Alcide (pictured, for totally gratuitous reasons) from True Blood serving my drink, preferably dressed in nothing but a bowtie and a naughty smile. Ahem!
Anyway, I know that many people prefer light reading ala Marian Keyes or Nick Hornby for summer, and who can blame them? The last thing you feel like getting into when the sun is shining, the birds are cheeping and there are endless cones of ice-cream waiting to be eaten is some dreary dreck about the end of the world...
...unless you're me. See, I like to balance the beauty and optimism that summer inevitably brings to the world by reading some deep, dark, thoughtful literature. In the golden weather, I like to read about cloudy days, unending despair, cups of sorrow. I want tragedy and drama, love that doesn't end well, meditations on the meaning of life, death and dying, books that cause disruptions of the mind and potential social upheaval.
I realise all this makes me sound like a morbid soul. I promise I'm not, really, what with my love of Christmas, my secret trysts with skeezy historical bodice rippers, and my crush on Rhett Butler (read Gone With the Wind and tell me you don't find his devotion appealing).
But the truth is, my idea of a good holiday read is something that makes me think. Most often, those are books many people would call literary, but in a way, I think there's almost as much of a stigma attached to that as there is to popular fiction.
I've compiled my summer reading list, but would be interested to know if there's anything you think I should add to it?
Wool, Hugh Howey
I am very excited about starting Wool - it's the first in a series of science-fiction dystopian novels. I've actually encountered Howey's work before, having read Half Way Home, which he self-published on Amazon, last summer. Apparently film rights for the Wool series has already been sold to 20th Century Fox, with Ridley Scott expressing an interest in directing, and he's doing an author tour of NZ next year.
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
The NY Times review of this book says: "Both Nick and Amy are extremely adept liars, and they lied to each other a lot. Now they will lie to you". I can't resist a good puzzle and am already hooked just a few short pages into this. The language blows me away too: "...the first time I saw her, it was the back of the head I saw, and there was something lovely about it...like a shiny, hard corn kernel or a riverbed fossil".
The Girl Below, Bianca Zander
I like to support NZ authors whenever I can, and Zander has been lauded as a brilliant new literary talent. The setting for this novel is London, the narrator a young woman who must find her way through a maze of secrets and dark memories to uncover the truth about something that happened more than 20 years ago in an old air-raid shelter. Zander is also quite active on Twitter, and describes herself as "mother, op shopper, wedding DJ" - an interesting combination.
All The Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy
I used to go around saying I was a McCarthy fan, until I realised that the only novel of his I've read is The Road. So I'm trying to rectify that by reading some of his earlier works. It's the story of a cowboy who is trying to be a cowboy in a world that has passed him by, which sounds all kinds of bittersweet and wonderful. I can't wait.
Ghostwritten, David Mitchell
I am trying to work my way through the entire Mitchell ouvre in anticipation of our interview (someday). That sounds suitably stalkerish, right? I actually think Ghostwritten sounds kinda awesome, especially because the Wikipedia entry for it says that it references Isaac Asimov's the Three Laws of Robotics.
What books are you looking forward to reading this summer?