First Summer Reads

Back to the library part of this blog —- here are the books kicking off my summer.


I had high expectations for AN UNTAMED STATE and Roxane Gay’s novel lived up to every one of them.  It’s a shocking story.  It’s a heartbreaking story.  It’s a story about control and power and money and violence and marriage and what it means to be a female person in this world.  This is the best book I’ve read this year … by miles.


I re-read Mark Doty’s memoir DOG YEARS to see how it worked structurally, and ended up loving it even more than I did the first time through.  You don’t have to be a dog-person to love this book.  Sure, it’s about his dogs Arden and Beau, but it’s really about how and why we love what we love, how we grieve, and how we find love again.


I just started SISTERLAND, but so far so good.  I have to admit I was stunned by the prologue.  The story takes place in St. Louis, and she opens with a story about the New Madrid earthquake of 1811-12  —- which is freakily similar to a chapter I wrote for my memoir, waaaaay back in the first draft.  That chapter no longer exists, but still …


What books are kicking off your summer?



13 thoughts on “First Summer Reads

  1. Averil Dean

    I’m reading The Painter at the moment. Not sure where we’re going yet but I’m happy to take the ride. After that, I think it will be A Better Angel, the story collection by Chris Adrian which is on its way to me from Powell’s. Really looking forward to that one.

  2. amyg

    I’ve got Spent, untamed state, and am currently reading what remains by carole radziwill (i promised a good friend i would read it before i picked up one more book as she was horrified i hadn’t yet). i just finished madwoman in the volvo and loved it – especially the end – it had a way of turning itself into a “here’s what to expect & what you should do” menopause guide without losing the beat of the humor and honesty involved.

    i know i got more b/c there’s not way that stack of books on my nightstand is only four books tall…i just can’t remember any other titles at the moment.

  3. joplingirl

    An Untamed State is the best novel I’ve read in a long time. Finished a few weeks ago and haven’t been able to stay with another since. Just downloaded a sample of St. Aubyn’s The Patrick Melrose novels. And I want to read Jamison’s The Empathy Exams.

    1. Lyra

      There’s a wonderful piece on St. Aubyn called Inheritance in the online New Yorker. It moved his first book to the top of my list as soon as I can get it.

      1. joplingirl

        Fascinating wasn’t it? Made me want to read his books. I can relate to the creation of a fictional alter ego.

  4. Paul Lamb

    I just started Love in the Time of Cholera. I got it as an airplane read for a trip coming up in two weeks, but I may have it finished before then. Not sure what I’ll read next.

  5. Downith

    I bought Levels of Live by Julian Barnes about year ago and promptly lost it somewhere in the house. I found it last week and am looking forward to reading it next.

  6. sherrystanfastanley

    I just commented tonight on one of Laura Maylene Walter’s about Roxane Gay. I was fortunate to meet her last summer at the Midwest Writers Workshop where she critiqued some of my stories–and subsequently published three of them in The Rumpus. She was complimentary about my writing (swoon), but I only wish I had an ounce of that woman’s talents. And, two books published in one year! She manages hilarious one moment and heart-breaking the next. She is a goddess!

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