This post is dedicated to my brilliant, older sister, Shannon, who continues to read voraciously and inspires me to do everything.
At parties, I know how to clear the room. Someone might find out that I am closing in on my PhD in Literary Studies and ask, “Oh yeah? Do you have a recommendation for some classics?” I usually stammer and then ask them, “What do you like to read?” which gets them off the subject because I hate to seem like I hold some keys to the reading mecca of the world. I don’t. I just have opinions like anyone else.
So, here are a few opinions. (Besides taking to the pool or the ocean or the woods a stack of old New Yorkers…) The above is a great, chilly read for these hot summer days. I am not one to condemn movies, but please, read the book and then judge for yourself. This novel sparkles in the ghost of snowy mornings. Its pixie dust reveals the Hudson Valley like you’ve never experienced. ‘Nough said.
Look up my previous post about Dickens’s The Old Curiosity Shop. We love Little Nel characters – the “one against” and “underdog” archetype – who either triumph against all evil or succumb as martyr. No spoilers but there are moments in this novel where I had to pause to re-read and cherish. This cherishing can be easily done by poolside.
This is for my students who would like to crawl inside what “voice” feels like in the novel. Robert Bird’s Introduction is key to understanding the circumstances of Dostoevsky’s life at the time he wrote Notes from the Underground. You’ll notice, eventually, that the protagonist is unreliable and that he is one of those you love to dislike.
Yes. I believe Louise Fitzhugh stands up to Dostoevsky. If you never sat down and read this in your teens, or if you have and haven’t revisited it for a while, you’ll be sucked in by Harriet’s life rather than told or pandered to. She’s bossy and insistent and has set presidents for so many novels and movies.
If you have never read Byatt’s Possession, it’s a treat waiting for you. Two story-lines concurrently. Love twists and intrigue. It’s thick so if you prefer shorter novels, then maybe read this in sections. Again, the movie is up to you to judge. Read the book first.
I tried to sift through my Margaret Atwood library and can’t pick out just one. Try to read any Atwood. Buy one randomly and you will be thrilled. If you want to read Alias Grace, read it first and then watch the Netflix production.
Persuasion is one of Jane Austen’s more subversive novels. If you pick up an Austen novel this summer, you’ll enjoy trotting into parlors in Bath, England and all of the social circumstances Anne Elliot is up against. Another underdog story.
Any and all Bronte sisters.
If you would like to delve into Early Modern Britain’s history, Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing World is, in my opinion, the first science-fiction novel.
If you’re scratching your head and asking: what does she like that is new? You can message me. This post is disparate but aims for pool length novel reading.
Here is a list of authors I tend to like:
Again, not any kind of order to the above. Just off-the-hip suggestions from someone who likes to read…