So Many Damn Books is the book podcast that we are most excited to see show up in our podcast feed. Drew and Christopher take reading seriously. Each show starts off with a themed cocktail in honor of the show’s guest, book purchases are discussed, there’s an author interview, and book recommendations. It’s a celebration of all things bookish and it’s just darn good fun. We know you need a new book podcast in your life. This is the one! Trust us. We were over the moon when Drew and Christopher agreed to send along their summer reading lists. Thank you so much, guys!
Three Women, by Lisa Taddeo
For those looking for a heady summertime fling, Three Women is fantastic, conscientious gossip (amongst other excellent attributes).
Aug 9 Fog, by Kathrynn Scanlan
Good, poetic beach fare—a perfect hot afternoon of a book.
The Instructions, by Adam Levin
I'm going to be dipping into The Instructions next, a huge maximalist novel about a pre-teen who believes he’s a messiah—it seems like it'll pair well with an air conditioner's hum.
And of course, you can also just zone out in the sun and listen to past episodes of So Many Damn Books instead, and let us do your summer reading for you.
I love my spooky books in October and my mysteries in the early months of the new year, but there's nothing quite like Summer Reading. The world slows down just enough, whether for a long weekend or a trip somewhere or even just because it's hot where you are, and you can sink into a book like sliding into a pool. Here are some great ones to throw in your bag—but be forewarned, you'll want to be working on that beach bod because several of these are heavy.
The Alexandria Quartet, by Lawrence Durrell
You can start (and even stop) with Justine, a wonderful standalone reading experience, but give yourself a month to read all four books and your life will be changed. Heat, sand, politics, sex, death, writing so ripe it practically falls off the page into your hand—these books are Summer, to me.
The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson
Jeff VanderMeer, a literary idol of mine, has stumped for this book for ages and I finally picked it up just this past week. It's a cool, slim book, essentially a novel in stories about a young girl and her grandmother on an island in Finland. Things happen, but it's really just about life—particularly the beginning and end of it. Good for a palate cleanser while you're reading other things!
Lanny, by Max Porter
For the English fantastists out there, here's one full of textual trickery (read it on the page or at least as a PDF and not on an e-ink reader, seriously: Porter's typesetters pull off some truly incredible things) and the lush spirit of woods dark and deep. Pairs particularly well with a pint, Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem, and the faint sounds of people performing A Midsummer Night's Dream nearby.
Democracy May Not Exist, But We'll Miss It When It's Gone, by Astra Taylor
Summer is supposed to be break time from all our troubles, but let's face it: nobody's really getting a break these days, because our troubles are all too consistently present to be avoided. So, what to do? Astra Taylor's remarkable (and easy-breezy) read is your best bet. This book changed the way I think about this country, about politics, about the world. It's a must-read for everyone, particularly heading into the inevitable madness of the upcoming election cycle. Read it now, so you are better prepared—and you can have practice convos with your relatives now, instead of awkward ones at the holidays!
Prelude to Bruise, by Saeed Jones
These poems swelter, sweat, sizzle, and shimmer. They are heat (sometimes sexual, sometimes literal, sometimes just fire-emoji) incarnate and not a summer goes by where I don't pluck this off my shelf, usually to read softly to myself with a cool bourbon in my hand. Saeed's got an incredible memoir (How We Fight For Our Lives) coming out this fall and, if you don't know him yet, this is a perfect appetizer for what's to come.