I keep stumbling upon “summer reading lists,” and my brain conjures visions of swimsuit-clad ladies on the beach, reading romance novels while their children play in the sand. I intend to do some of that myself, this summer (romance, that is), so I thought I’d throw up a post about ten things that are on my nightstand and my mental to-read list. If I accomplish all of this by September it will be a miracle.

1. A stack of New Yorkers. Can anyone keep up? I have about three articles to finish in the May 14 issue before I turn to the Sci-Fi issue, before I tackle the one that came last week, before the one that inevitably arrives today or tomorrow. To say I’m “in the weeds” would be an understatement. Assuming I get caught up, I’ll turn to…

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2. Look At Me, by Jennifer Egan. I got this out of the library on the advice of my friend Katie Williams, after we discussed Egan’s Pulitzer-Prize winning novel A Visit from the Goon Squad. I liked Goon Squad, but I found it a little hard to connect with at times. Katie suggested Look At Me.

3. The Passage, by Justin Cronin. Vampires? I know very little about it, but it’s on the list.

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4. Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. I’m so excited to read this memoir–about a woman who hikes the PCT–that I may cave and purchase the $25 hardcover. At the moment I’m about 400th on the waiting list at the library, however.

5. All the Pretty Horses and, if I love it, the rest of the Border Trilogy, by Cormac McCarthy. My brother gave me this book for Christmas, perhaps in repayment for my recommending to him McCarthy’s The Road, which, he says, “f-ed him up.” Me too, brother, me too. I approach McCarthy with caution and excitement–in my limited experience, he’s a brilliant writer, but, well, he f-s you up.

6. Miscellaneous poetry. I need some poetry in my life again. Anyone have a recommendation?

7. The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home, by George Howe Colt. I say I am going to read this book every summer, because, like Colt, my family has a New England summer house that was purchased by my grandparents in the 1950s—and was left to their five children, who had twelve children between them, and those twelve grandchildren now have ten kids between them. Colt tells the story of having to sell a house on Cape Cod because so many people owned it that no one could keep up with it or afford it any longer. I think. I haven’t read it yet, after all.

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8. The Essential Urban Farmer, by Novella Carpenter and Willow Rosenthal. This is the current reference book on my nightstand. Next thing to look up? How to grow potatoes in a burlap sack. I’m feeling adventuresome.

9. Student papers. I am teaching two sections of composition and one fiction-writing course this summer, all online.

10. Operating Instructions, by Anne Lamott. I’m interested in accounts of childbirth and pregnancy, and have heard that this book takes a refreshing and literary approach to both.

What are you hoping to read this summer?

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