For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, the folks over at The Broke and the Bookish ask bloggers to list the top ten books on their summer TBR lists. I have chosen to list the top ten books being released this summer that I would like to read instead of listing ten books from my shelf, waiting to be read; we all know my plans for reading the books I already own NEVER work out, and this is more fun! For the purpose of this list I’m defining summer as May 19 (regardless of the summer solstice, summer for me begins when college ends) through Sept. 22 (the autumnal equinox; I don’t have college to define the end of my summer anymore). It’s kind of an odd definition, but it’s the best I can do right now!
1. The Lower River – Paul Theroux (May 22). Would it be too cheesy to say, “You had me at Theroux?” This new novel by one of my favorite travel writers is about an American man who, after being thrown out by his wife, returns to the obscure African village in Malawi where he served in the Peace Corps 40 years earlier. Although he hopes to retreat to an “simpler, older world,” he finds a village of hungry, angry, desperate people and thuggish local leaders.
2. Cubop City Blues – Pablo Medina (June 5). The reader is guided by The Storyteller through Cubop City, a metropolis bearing a striking resemblance to New York City. Born nearly blind, raised by a European housekeeper, and educated at home through texts such as the Encyclepedia Britannica, The Bible, and Arabian Nights, The Storyteller at age 25 becomes caregiver for his parents, both of whom have been diagnosed with cancer. To pass the time, he tells them stories inspired by his prolific reading, imagining a vivid new world.
3. Capital – John Lanchester (June 12). This “big, fat London novel” follows a selection of inhabitants (and the people who work for them) of a street in south London. Among these vividly drawn characters trying to find a place in British society are a well-educated Hungarian woman working as a nanny, a Polish man who works as a builder, a pampered Senegalese footballer, and political refugee from Zimbabwe who is able to work as a traffic warden only through the forged working permit she must pay for.
4. Tell the Wolves I’m Home – Carol Rifka Brunt (June 19). Struggling to come to terms with her beloved uncle Finn’s death from AIDS in 1980s New York, 15-year-old June secretly befriend’s Finn’s lover, Toby, whom her parents blame for her uncle’s death. Between the family conflicts, typical adolescent difficulties, and Brunt’s bold treatment of homosexuality and AIDS, “the plot is never dull;“ Tell the Wolves I’m Home has the moral conflicts typical of YA novels but enough subtlety and ambiguity to appeal to older readers.
5. How Should a Person Be? A Novel From Life – Sheila Heti (June 19). Sheila, a playwright in her twenties, is left unsure how to live and create after her marriage fails. When she meets Margaux, a free-spirited painter, and Israel, a darkly sexy artist, Sheila hopes close observation of her new friend and new lover will help her get back on her feet. “Part literary novel, part self-help manual, and part bawdy confessional,” this book explores the way we live, the sincerest way to love, and how we should be.
6. Infinite Tides – Christian Kiefer (June 19). Kiefer’s first novel follows Kieth Corcoran, an astronaut who has recently returned from the International Space Station, been left by his wife, and is coping with the death of his teenage daughter. In his battle against recurring migraines and his new solitude, he goes on an indefinite vacation from NASA and takes to hanging out in an abandoned suburban lot, drinking beer, smoking pot, and stargazing with a Ukranian former astronomer.
7. Office Girl – Joe Meno (July 3). Set in 1999, Office Girl follows Odile Neff, an art school dropout, and Jack Blevins, an amateur sound artist, both of whom work soul-killing office jobs. The two twenty-somethings bond over Indie rock, French film, and obscure comic book artists as they start a relationship. Publishers Weekly describes it as having “monologues that could easily pass for Belle & Sebastian lyrics,” and being “high on quirk … light as air, surprisingly unpretentious.”
8. Sorry Please Thank You – Charles Yu (July 24). Yu’s new short story collection, which fuses sci-fi and literature, creates a world of emotionally stunted characters who refuse to accept reality and the love and loss that go along with it. Some of the most amusing stories involve a new pharmaceutical drug that generates a sense of purpose in its patients, a technology that transfers unwanted emotions onto the employees of an “emotional engineering firm,” and a zombie in a megamart.
9. NW – Zadie Smith (Sept. 4). I’m currently reading Smith’s On Beauty and being slightly bored by it, but her latest novel sounds rather interesting: it follows four siblings from northwest London “who have made it out of the grim housing estate they were born into, only to be sucked back in when a stranger comes knocking.”
10. Telegraph Avenue – Michael Chabon (Sept. 11). This “pop-culture epic” follows Nat and Archy, longtime friends, band mates, and co-regents of Brokeland Records as they struggle to defend their small, used-vinyl shop against ex-NFL quarterback Gibson Goode, who plans to open his latest Dogpile megastore on Telegraph Avenue. Set in the freewheeling borderlands of Berkeley and Oakland, Chabon’s latest novel is “set to the funky beat of classic vinyl soul-jazz and pulsing with a virtuosic, pyrotechnical style all its own.”
What’s on your summer TBR list?