Summer Reading (a reflection of sorts)

Back to work after six long weeks of doing nothing but reading I would laze in bed and emerge only when I’d turned the final page. Or I took my coffee into the patch of morning sun and shift my body, hot and sleepy, across the room as it rose and turned into a bright shimmering day. I read book after book after book and spent hours by the river, interrupting my reading only to dip into the cool green water, minty and muddy and fresh. I read female authors and poets and essays and short stories and debut voices and marginalised writers. I read Ali Smith in great big gulps and the new Murakami in a feverish haze over a few days. I read the water cure twice in a row, and I still can’t get my head out of that world. I read Sylvia Plath, her letters peppering the spaces between each book – a relief, the constant undercurrent in the overwhelming world of words. I reread and reread and marvelled at the magic of my brain’s ability to draw so much meaning from a single text. And I read new books – glorious debut novels that made me equal parts giddy with admiration and green with envy.

I read so much the pages and words blurred into one another. Characters and lines places and prose would arrive together in my dreams; they would converse and create a space of pure fiction from fiction. I read until the night had dipped so dark it felt as if it was just me. I measured my hours and days by books, not by clocks or calendars, and the weeks became composed of books instead of sets of twenty four hours named after celestial bodies.

But now, it’s back to the classroom. Back to Shakespeare and Jane Eyre and Margaret Atwood and Carol Ann Duffy. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Orwell and some Murakami too. back to hours spent talking and laughing and teaching and then feeling exhausted. Drained of emotion and thought. Back to arriving home and falling asleep after only a few pages, only to wake up in the quiet dim of the evening that seems to have rushed upon me. Back to maybe only managing Sylvia for a while. Back to talk about all the books I read over the summer. Back to watching them grab a pen, or open their notes on their phones, because that’s what they do (well, some of them) – they take note and they listen. They read and they write and then they produce pure magic.

The List (in full):

The Letters of Sylvia Plath: Volume I (ongoing)
Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima
Motherhood by Shelia Heti
The Last Children of Tokyo by Yōko Tawada
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (reread)
The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood (reread)
Ponti by Sharlene Teo
The Accidental by Ali Smith (reread)
The Terrible by Yrsa Daley-Ward
Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami
The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
Bluets by Maggie Nelson (reread)
Soho by Richard Scott
The Beekeeper of Sinjar by Dunya Mikhail
Nobody is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey (reread)
Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yōko Tawada
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (reread)
Asymmetry by Lisa Halladay
Poūkahangatus by Tayi Tibble
The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh (twice)
To the River by Olivia Laing
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
Transit by Rachel Cusk
Public Library and Other Stories by Ali Smith (reread)
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Who is Mary Sue? by Sophie Collins
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf (reread)

2 thoughts on “Summer Reading (a reflection of sorts)

  1. Wow, this sounds amazing!

    I recently finished How to Change Your Mind, a pretty dense book on the history of psychodics, and I’m looking for something whimsical to follow it up. Which from your list would you suggest?


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