Posts Tagged: Summer Reading List

Matthew Siegel’s Summer Reading List

Before I fell in love with it, many of my earliest adventures in poetry reading were spurred on (okay, okay, required) by my teachers and professors. It took longer to fall than I’d care to admit, but I can only imagine the process would have been a little quicker had Matthew Siegel been my instructor. This summer he’s busy teaching gifted high school students at Stanford, and this is a look at what he’s assigned.

And how jealous of these kids am I!

If Birds Gather Your Hair for Nesting by Anna Journey: This is a book that continues to impress me each time I read it. Imagistically, these poems soar. They are both confident and vulnerable. Poems that make me want to write poems. Poems that make me want to be a better poet.

Please by Jericho Brown: This is another book I teach from regularly, especially when I am teaching literature to musicians. To say these poems talk about music and love and distance and identity would not be saying nearly enough. I love this book.

We the Animals by Justin Torres: His is a book that will beat you about the face and heart. Justin’s stories have made me weep openly. This book goes straight for gut.

Self Help by Lorrie Moore: A contemporary classic I’m reading for the first time. Lots of second person stories that really work and the ones that aren’t blend right in. Family drama. Love stories. Things of the heart.

Siegel’s poems appear in our Summer 2011 issue.

Mary Hamilton’s Summer Reading List

I just want to take a second to talk about how cool Mary Hamilton is. Her hair? Wicked. Her charm? Disarming. Her stories? For starters, they make undergrads swoon. We were thrilled to have her at our Blue Light Reading, and (what’s greater than thrilled?) to publish two of her short shorts in Issue 33.2.

And this is the part of the blog post where I ask you to insert your own corny joke about Mary being an optician and helping us to see how great her book selections are. I just can’t bring myself to do it. But, enjoy:

The Sounding of the Whale by D. Graham Burnett: In my next life, I want to be a blue whale. But a whale in the past, not when humans were all about killing every living thing they saw. I watch the YouTube video of David Attenborough speaking the glories of the blue whale every day. This book is huge. It has its own zip code. But I live in LA now and summer lasts all year so I think I’ll finish this book before 2013.

Pigeons by Andrew W. Blechman: I hate birds. But my friend told me a story from this book about a pigeon that was a war hero. A war hero pigeon?! Sign me up.

Twelve Diseases That Changed Our World by Irwin W. Sherman: Diseases. Don’t get ’em.

Roxane Gay’s Summer Reading List

Here’s the thing about Roxane Gay: She is one of our favorite people. Pretty high up on the list, too. Not only does her essay “(How to Write) A Love Story” appear in our new issue, but she floored us at our second annual Blue Light Reading in March, and is generally – yes, I’m going to say it – a literary badass. Like, her story “North Country” is forthcoming in the Best American Short Stories 2012, and she edits essays for The Rumpus. I’d wonder when she has time to sleep, but I know from Twitter that she doesn’t.

…which is the long way to say that when she tells you what you should be reading, you should read it. I for one will be tracking these babies down:

With the Animals by Noelle Revaz: A raw, disturbing book about a brutal man who treats his wife and children like animals and his animals like family and how, ever so slowly, reaches for the more human parts of himself.

How to Get Into the Twin Palms by Karolina Waclawiak: This has been one of the most unexpected reading pleasures of the year. This beautiful novel is a meditation on displacement and loneliness and a woman who tries to find someone to hold onto in Los Angeles, which may be one of the loneliest cities in the world.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: Flynn is not afraid of darkness and Gone Girl is a book where every character is irredeemable in some way yet entirely captivating. The book is a thriller written as a character study and with each new layer of complexity, Flynn shows us how unafraid she is to allow her characters to be the terrible, beautiful, fucked up people they really are.

Redshirts by John Scalzi: I don’t read a lot of science fiction but Redshirts is a delightful, quick read, a meta novel if you will. The story parodies bad science fiction television where the characters in the show realize they are actually in the show and return to earth to try and save themselves. There’s a lot to laugh about in this smart, engaging book.

But before you run to the bookstore, I suggest you start with Roxane’s thrilling review of the new movie Magic Mike.

Brittany Cavallaro’s Summer Reading List

I promise I’m not about to have a Julie Andrews moment, but one of my favorite things is reading a good book of poems on a porch during a thunderstorm. Luckily, thunderstorm season has begun here in Indiana, and Brittany Cavallaro has a few reading suggestions for us. Now I just need to buy a chair for my porch.

Brittany’s poem “Points of Issue” appeared in last summer’s issue, and her website is pretty nifty. Here’s what she’s reading this summer:

Little, Big by John Crowley: A contemporary fantasy epic in the same vein as Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, only published twenty years earlier. I’ve always had a soft spot for literary novels that edge and poke at genre conventions, so I’ve been meaning to read this for awhile; I’m about a chapter in, and the prose is limpid and dream-like, with well-drawn characters.

Water Puppets by Quan Barry: I carried around Barry’s first collection, ‘Asylum’, for the last two years of undergrad, and I was incredibly lucky to have her as my advisor in my MFA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This new collection, just out from Pitt, might blow it away–these poems are somehow both subtle and ferocious as they undertake subjects as diverse as pornography and international conflict. “Thanksgiving” is an intense, beautiful look at how we as a species absorb and deflect cruelty.

Chinoiserie by Karen Rigby: Lately, I’ve been developing crushes on small presses, one at a time — I figure that if I love two books I’ve ordered from, say, Canarium Books, I’ll love the next two as well. (And I do love Canarium!) Crushing hard on Ahsahta right now, particularly on this gem of a collection by Karen Rigby — lovely, bone-hard diction on an array of ekphrastic subjects, from anime to Marguerite Duras.

Dana Fitz Gale’s Summer Reading List

Here’s the thing about Indiana: In the summer it gets HOT, which is sad because the air conditioner in our office is pretty wonky. Today’s high is 98 degrees. But we like to compare the heat to important people in our lives – Ryan Gosling, for instance, or as we tweeted, our subscribers – which makes it a little more bearable.

You know what also helps? Cool, well-crafted prose. With that in mind, here are three summer reading suggestions from Dana Fitz Gale, whose story “Covenants” appears in our newest issue:

Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon: Suspense, deceit, horseracing: who wouldn’t want to read this book? The fact that it won a National Book Award means I can feel virtuous about it, too.

Perma Red by Debra Magpie Earling: I’ve been meaning to read this novel for quite a while. It’s set on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana, where I worked for several years, and I’ve heard from many sources that it’s a gorgeous, haunting book.

Stray Decorum by George Singleton: This short fiction collection won’t be released until the end of summer and I can’t wait to read it. Singleton is one of the funniest writers out there, but don’t be fooled –at the same time as his stories make you laugh, they’ll break your heart.