Creating a Killer Reading List

I am really, really excited for the end of the semester. Sorry, school, but you and I need to take a break—a long one—until, say, end of August?

Anyway, I have been majorly idealizing summer break in my mind. It’s gotten to the point that I currently picture myself stuck under a dark cloud that will suddenly vanish when school ends, revealing a sunny beach and instant tans. But really its two to three months of no classes, warm weather, and the ability to read whatever the hell I want to.

That’s right. Part of my summer plans include creating and then reading from a killer book list.

Exciting, right?

For me it is. Over the past year, I have been collecting a reading list from professor suggestions, fellow students, and friends. I’m currently knocking one off my list that my mom has been suggesting for years, Ellen Foster, by Kaye Gibbons. And even though I do want to read this book, I’m still using it for a short novella presentation in a class.

What really excites me about this book list is that its all books I want to read. Not that I don’t enjoy the books I have to read for class. But there’s something completely different about reading a book you pick up for your very own pleasure. I mean I’m not kidding when I say I plan on spending my summer reading, writing, hanging/catching up with boyfriend/family/friends, learning to bake (better), sleeping, running, traveling, and reading.

Below you will find the book list I have started. Obviously there’s no way I’ll finish all these books this summer, but a girl can dream, right?

These are books I’ve compiled from many different avenues, and now I’m asking for your suggestions. Feel free to add anything, but I’m particularly interested in “must-read” books for writers. And I’m not really talking about nonfiction books on craft, but fiction books that would be beneficial to read as a writer, or might help influence my own craft.

Sidenote: One of my favorite current authors is Jumpha Lahiri, who Howard will sometimes casually namedrop in class. I.e., “Oh she and I are judging a contest together” or “I was having dinner with Jumpha Lahiri in Brooklyn.” I really wish she would bring him here. But the point of all this is that she apparently has a book coming this Fall.

Creating a Killer Reading List:

The Bird Artist by Howard Norman
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
Hotel Iris by Yoko Ogawa
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood
Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell
Gods without Men by Hari Kunzru
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
Genealogy by Maud Casey
What is Left the Daughter by Howard Norman
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje
Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood
The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
(the rest of) The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro
1983 by George Orwell
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe
A History of Suicide: My Sister’s Unfinished Life by Jill Bialosky
I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down by William Gay
(the rest of) The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
(something by) Salman Rushdie

And since books and coffee go so well together, let’s have a Tryst:

Tryst Coffeehouse*Bar*Lounge

Not a real Tryst. But I visited the coffee shop Tryst in D.C. for some study time and D.C. time. This is a place I hold dear in my heart. Even though I only visited a few times when I had a D.C. zip code back in 2008, it became a place marker for the friendships I created that semester. Plus, it easily transforms from a cozy coffee shop to a great brunch place to the perfect bar for people-watching at night.

Trust me. Sometime, I’ll share the story of the make-out couple at the bar.

Inside of Tryst.

My table set up. Books, lemon poppy scone, and delicious-I've-forgotten-the-name-of-it coffee.

What this coffee shop offers is the amazing capability to instantly make you feel at home, right down to the flowers on the table, the friendly service, and the genial atmosphere.

You get animal crackers with your coffee!

The bar at Tryst.

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9 thoughts on “Creating a Killer Reading List

  1. Tryst is such a nice place, but I’ve only been there once despite living in the DC area for six years because Adams Morgan is such a pain to get to.

    Awesome list thus far! As far as books, I noticed you had Nabokov’s “Lolita” on your list. “Lolita” is good, but his book “Pale Fire” is a lot better. It’s the one he really should have been famous for. I’m a sucker for all the Russian writers; they’re so good!

  2. This is a good list. 100 Years of Solitude is a great read, but when I tried to read it a second time I found myself annoyed at how similar all the names are. Try not to judge it or get distracted in the middle of it — I did and don’t think I ever actually finished, just sparknoted the last few chapters. But according to people who know, it’s one of the best works of fiction from the 20th Century.

  3. I hope you are reading Oryx and Crake/ The Year of the Flood because of me! I LOVE those books. Also, Virgin Suicides, Nocturnes, and We Need to Talk About Kevin are all incredible books. Love your list!

  4. Pingback: My Reading, Writing, and (not) Arithmetic Challenge | wordifications

  5. Pingback: Tryst | wordifications

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