Summer Reading; or, The Time a Young Woman’s Fancy Turns to BOOKS!

This is it: my belongings are all packed in boxes and sent off to storage; I’ll be moving out of my dorm room—my home for the past nine months—tomorrow afternoon. This means it’s summer, the time of weather worth sitting outside for, of long rides on trains and airplanes, of parks and beaches and unscheduled blocks of time. It’s time for summer reading, and so I thought I’d share with you the books which I am hoping to read this summer. It’s a long list, comprising some books which I am reading for pleasure, some which I am reading for thesis research, and some which I am reading for a sort of academic club of which I’m a member. I’m sure I won’t get to all of them—the summer, after all, is a time for not stressing overmuch about deadlines—but I will certainly be reading voraciously and constantly. The list, in alphabetical order:

Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
Willa Cather, The Professor’s House
Charles Dickens, Bleak House
George Eliot, Middlemarch
Richard Ellman, Oscar Wilde
William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom
Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections
Robert Graves, Goodbye to All That
Herman Melville, “Bartleby the Scrivener”
Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire
David S. Reynolds, Walt Whitman’s America: A Cultural Biography
Arthur Rimbaud, ed. and trans. Jeremy Harding and John Sturrock, Selected Poems and Letters
Douglas Shand-Tucci, The Crimson Letter: Harvard, Homosexuality, and the Shaping of American Culture*
Edmund White, everything I haven’t read yet (I’m currently reading The Married Man)
Oscar Wilde, ed. Richard Ellmann, The Artist as Critic: Critical Writings of Oscar Wilde
Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

Feel free to read along with me, to offer your own recommendations, and in general to join me in enjoying the wonders of SUMMER!

[* The reviewers agree that Shand-Tucci’s approach is not a historically rigorous nor necessarily accurate one, but I’m reading the book for background information and direction more than for facts. I’m hoping it will give me names, anecdotes, etc. that I can pursue and fact-check and therefore an understanding of what was distinctively American about a university that thought itself the U.S. equivalent of Oxbridge.]

2 thoughts on “Summer Reading; or, The Time a Young Woman’s Fancy Turns to BOOKS!

  1. Your list is very long, and mine is also growing, but complementary — your books are precisely what I have to give up reading!

    Jane Eyre is probably in my top five of all time; Bartleby is nice; I learned to like Edmund White from you, in fact, and even bought City Boy in hardcover (!); I’ve been telling everyone to read William Vollmann’s “Riding Towards Everywhere” so I’ll tell you too. I probably can’t tell you anything you don’t know about That Gay Business, but in case you haven’t read The Well of Loneliness, it made pretty sprightly reading — more than I expected.

  2. Thanks Sarah! I have read The Well of Loneliness, all the way back in high school when I was discovering queer literature for the first time. It’s very much from the days when to write a gay book meant to write a book with an unhappy ending, but for all that it’s pretty important.

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