Summer Reading Lists

Summer Reading Lists - Katherine Forbes Riley

Each summer we like to invite authors to share their summer reading lists with us.

First up this summer is Vermont author Katherine Forbes Riley, a writer and computational linguist whose debut,The Bobcat, was released in June (Arcade/Skyhorse 2019). The Bobcat was recently picked by Ms. Magazine as a Read for the Rest of Us. Alexander Chee calls The Bobcat, “a heartfelt, revelatory, and moving novel about how the way back to our humanity and to the humanity of others leads us sometimes through the animal world. Surprising, precise, and full of love for the immeasurable possibilities of the human heart.”

Thanks for sharing your picks with us, Kate!


With summer in full swing, here are six great reads for the beach or lake. Each paragraph will stun and be savored, after which you’ll likely find yourself staring out at the endlessly repeating patterns of water and thinking about all that it might mean. That’s my idea of a great beach/lake read.

Naamah, by Sarah Blake

This book is built on a fantastic premise, plank by plank, and then let loose on us. What do you think about Noah’s wife? About that boat, those animals, their noise, their stench? You may not think much now but I can promise you’ll be thinking after you read Naamah. You’ll think about each phrase. I’m a fast reader, quick to skim if something doesn’t hold me, but this one forced me to read slowly, to listen like music and absorb every note, and I almost didn’t want to finish—not until I could get my hands on Blake’s next one.

The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen

This book matched pace with me as fast as my thoughts could go. This author is dangerous, his mind brilliant and multi-faceted. I would love to hear him read or even just speak. These are images from a war we all by now think we know intimately, and so it’s amazing that he makes them new. He makes them bitter, funny, awkward, unexpected; he weds us to them newly.

The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead

The first fifty pages of this novel should be required reading for every citizen of America. They could only have been written by one for whom such horror is truly alive in memory, but they should be read by us all, so those memories come alive for our whole country. So that we can all together almost not bear them.

There, There, by Tommy Orange

This book burns. Simply burns. The multiplicity of characters and voices is insane. How did Orange do it? I think he did what one of his protagonists does: he recorded voices. And then inside his head he muffled his own and let those others come through. And as unique as they are, still they resound with the lost and found in all of us. We must read them and think, these are my countrymen.

Milkman, by Anna Burns

I’ve never read something so internal. So amazing and disturbing and universal. I kept thinking, this sounds just like communism, like life behind the Wall, even though it’s Ireland. It reminds me a lot of Beckett as well. But it’s a woman, and the main character is a young woman, and she thinking about people, a town full of people that she thinks about as if it’s a net that holds her, also a spider’s web.

The Friend, by Sigrid Nunez

If I had to pick one book that’s made the deepest personal impact on me recently, I’d have to say The Friend. It’s such a paradoxical book, one that fabricates even as it acknowledges it, one that as a writer affirms my love of writing even while putting forth some pretty irrefutable reasons for why I shouldn’t be writing at all. It’s also got a dog, a big tough old dog. And it’s written by a very smart tough older woman, and that voice feels really good to me, mingling with all the others.