I'm excited about my summer read stack. Here's why...
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life: El Paso poet and novelist Benjamin Alier Saenz writes such compelling characters and personal narratives, you sometimes forget to look around the wonderful and surprising worlds he creates. I loved Sanez's "Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe" and can't wait to dig in to his latest YA novel.
I'm Thinking of Ending Things: My friend Stephanie Cagniart loaned me this book noting its compelling and unpredictable plot. Suspense, a road trip and a "big reveal" await in Iain Reid's debut novel. Stephanie challenged me to predict the ending before it happens. Challenge accepted!
Get in Trouble: Book reviewers and bloggers like to tempt Twin Peaks fans, like me, with reading lists that recommend authors who come close to capturing David Lynch's and Mark Frost's strange, mystical vibe. I'm often stunned when these lists fail to include anything by Kelly Link. I devoured her first story collection, "Magic For Beginners," and reread selected stories often for inspiration. "Get in Trouble" is Link's follow-up, a book published 10 years after Magic. I am certain it will be well worth the wait.
On Writing Well: Never hurts to brush up on the fundamentals. Zinsser's observations and experience-driven advice on nonfiction writing are must-read for anyone learning to write well or better. It's one of the best trade books this side of Strunk and White's, and I reread it at least once a year. My 30th Anniversary Edition is a cherished title in my book collection, and one of the few books I allow myself to dogear, underline and margin note.
Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions: "The Story of My Teeth" and "Sidewalks" introduced me to Valeria Luiselli's rich and descriptive prose. Her latest book is a reflection on her work as a volunteer translator for Central American child migrants seeking refuge in the U.S. I'm reading as much as I can on immigration and its impact on human rights, migrants, refugees and families from Latin/Central American communities. Luiselli, a Mexican-born author who I admire greatly, aims to "change the language of how we think about immigration" by focusing on the people, but also noting that past and present policies regarding deportation require close and compassionate reexamination.
Witches, Midwives and Nurses: When I saw this title at Skylight Books, I grabbed it immediately. Working as a writer in health care has made me hungry for medical history. This short read explores the birth of the medical profession when women were primary practitioners as natural healers. It traces the rise of a male-dominated "scientific approach" to medicine and how it pushed early practices and practitioners to the fringe.
Lovecraft Country: I'm reading everything and anything by, on or influenced by H.P. Lovecraft. Matt Ruff's new thriller is said to be funny, exciting and horror-filled. It blends ancient cosmic terrors with racial and cultural terrors of 1950s-era American south, which truly is the way to go when shouting out to Lovecraft. Also, it will soon be an HBO series helmed by Jordan Peele. I MUST finish this book before the show hits! Along the same genre lines, I'm anxious to dig in to Victor LaValle's work, but Lovecraft Country will be my first stop.
Bad Feminist: Roxane Gay has been making the media and interview rounds discussing her latest book, "Hunger." "Bad Feminist" is a collection of essays she published previously, and ever since I was introduced to this powerful, funny and insightful writer via a live YouTube interview, I've wanted to read every word she writes. Her live Tweeting of the Bachelor franchise is must-read, too.
-- Nicholas Almanza