A dozen summer reads
And a few notes on the guilty pleasure of reading
In Darryl Pinckney’s essay, “My Literary Education with Elizabeth Hardwick,” he writes about Hardwick’s love of reading and her idea that a writer’s primary autobiography is the books she has read. “I remember her telling me that to be able to make a life around reading was such good fortune it was almost criminal.”
I feel the same way: Reading is a huge part of my job, but whenever I spend the afternoon in the pool underlining a paperback, I feel like I’m really getting away with something.
Here’s the director Paul Thomas Anderson:
I still have trouble reading a book during the day because it somehow feels indulging… You know, like oh, my - this is so naughty. I’m actually reading at 10 o'clock in the morning. I think it’s just your upbringing - something about like you got to go to work, and you’ve got to - and move on. And still even - this is how I make my living. I still feel guilty. 10 o'clock, I mean - and it’s - but I’ve sunken into the pleasure of it - to think, my God, I’ve got my life in a way where I can read a book in the middle of the day.
I have always wondered why I get so much more reading done in the summer. I think guilt, or a lack of it, may play a part: I don’t feel guilty about spending two or three hours reading in the afternoon when it’s July and it’s 105 degrees outside and everybody else is on vacation, anyways.
Here are a dozen of my favorite reads of the summer — no guilty pleasures! — in no particular order:
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