I hate to say it, but I haven't read a book all summer, unless you count all the endless number baby books that I've skimmed! (Side note: They should totally make Cliff notes for baby books!) Summertime is usually the time where I breeze through funny, light reads like Everything is Perfect When You Are a Liar. Since I missed out on summer reading, I am looking forward to cozying up with a good book in the fall. Unlike summer, fall is usually the time where I like to read books that make me think. Something about the crisp, cool weather and the back-to-school feeling makes me want to read something deep and philosophical. Here are four books that I think are perfect for the upcoming fall season. They are slow, wordy, interesting and beautifully written. They are the kind of books you can read over and over again and fall in love with a different part each time. They are my favorite kind of book- books seemingly about everything and nothing at all. They also happen to be four of the hardest books to explain, so bear with me!
Do you ever re-read a book 5 years later and find it feels completely new because you've changed? This is that book for me. In college I would underline passages in books that spoke to me, like any angsty wannabe literary 20 year-old would do. I even lent them to boyfriends who made their own notes, which at the time felt very romantic. Recently, my friend and I were looking over my copy of The Unbearable Lightness of Being and were laughing at some of the passages a guy underlined and his notes. For instance, I underlined, "The first betrayal is irreparable. It calls forth a chain reaction of further betrayal, each of which takes us farther and farther away from the point of our original betrayal." And he wrote in red pen, "I disagree!" I should have known then that he was bad news! I haven't read this one in 5 years, so I would love to re-read it again this fall and see how much I've changed once more. The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a book about love and infidelity; it's both light and tragic at the same time.
Out Stealing Horses is set in Norway and begins with an ending. As Amazon says, "sixty-seven-year-old Trond has settled into a rustic cabin in an isolated area to live the rest of his life with a quiet deliberation." A meeting with his only neighbor, however, forces him to reflect on a fateful boyhood summer. The New Yorker calls it a "quiet but compelling novel...Petterson's spare and deliberate prose has astonishing force, and the narrative gains further power from the artful interplay of Trond’s childhood and adult perspectives. Loss is conveyed with all the intensity of a boy’s perception, but acquires new resonance in the brooding consciousness of the older man." The book is slow, contemplative, dreamy and quiet - like the Scandinavian setting it takes place in. It's the perfect book to take with you on a fall trip to the country.
If On a Winter's Night a Traveler is a book for people who love books. It's actually 10 books in one. The protagonist, "The Reader," buys a book which opens with "Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade." As you and The Reader start to settle in to the book, he discovers that his copy has been misprinted and only contains the first chapter. He returns to the bookshop and discovers the book, which he thought was by Calvino, is actually by a different writer. At the bookstore he meets the "Other Reader," Ludmilla. They both get a new book by the different writer, but yet again their copy is wrong, as is the next book and following book and so on. The two readers start a relationship while navigating through a labyrinth of books within books which, of course, are all interrupted right at the point of suspense. It's fun, thoughtful, at some points a little confusing, and romantic.
The History of Love is heartbreakingly beautiful. It's hard to explain, so you're just going to have to trust me on this one. It's another novel, where different stories interconnect in a poetic way. I remember finishing the book in tears and just sitting there for awhile, taking in all that I had read. A passage from the book was even read at my wedding, and is framed in our bathroom, of all places. I like to think people enjoy reading it while washing their hands! Here is the passage:
“Once upon a time, there was a boy. He lived in a village that no longer exists, in a house that no longer exists, on the edge of a field that no longer exists, where everything was discovered, and everything was possible. A stick could be a sword, a pebble could be a diamond, a tree, a castle. Once upon a time, there was a boy who lived in a house across the field, from a girl who no longer exists. They made up a thousand games. She was queen and he was king. In the autumn light her hair shone like a crown. They collected the world in small handfuls, and when the sky grew dark, and they parted with leaves in their hair."
What are you reading lately? Do you have any suggestions for us? Even though I love deep, philosophical books for the fall season, I also can't wait for Mindy Kaling's new book, Why Not Me?, coming out September 15th!