If you read this post right after the last one, you'll notice certain resonances or connections, even more so than among the previous years. In any event, here it is:
Summer Reading List 2017
I don’t mean to brag, but I was very fortunate to be able to see the musical Hamilton on Broadway this spring, and that has wet my appetite for the biography that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda, Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (New York: Penguin, 2004). And from a different era of American history, I plan on reading American Gothic: The Story of America’s Legendary Theatrical Family—Junius, Edwin, and John Wilkes Booth by Gene Smith (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992). In case you’re wondering why, Edwin Booth, who was the most famous stage actor of the 19th century, was the founder of the Players Club in Manhattan (Mark Twain was a co-founder), and over the past year I’ve been organizing events for the New York Society for General Semantics at the club, a historic building that once serve as Edwin Booth’s home (and still preserves the room that he lived, and died in).
Reading biographical and historical accounts is one method of time travel, and I also intend to read up on the subject more generally by diving into James Gleick’s Time Travel: A History (New York: Pantheon, 2016). Time being a topic of great interest to me, another book on my summer stack is Now: The Physics of Time by Richard A. Muller (New York: W.W. Norton).
Two books on language also have caught my eye and are on my pile, The Kingdom of Speech by Tom Wolfe (New York: Little, Brown & Co., 2016), and Words on the Move by John McWhorter (New York: Henry Holt, 2016).
Some years ago, I read the first few books in the A Series of Unfortunate Events collection (New York: HarperCollins) by Lemony Snicket, and was unable to continue for reasons that had nothing to do with the books. I was very impressed with the originality and inventiveness of what I had read, especially the self-conscious, often self-reflexive play with language and literary conventions, really quite brilliant all in all. And with the recent adaption of the books as a Netflix series, I intend to go back to the beginning and read the entire set of 13 volumes: The Bad Beginning (1999), The Reptile Room (1999), The Wide Window (2000), The Miserable Mill (2000), The Austere Academy (2000), The Ersatz Elevator (2001), The Vile Village (2001), The Hostile Hospital (2001), The Carnivorous Carnival (2002), The Slippery Slope (2003), The Grim Grotto (2004), The Penultimate Peril (2005), and The End (2006).
Lastly, I look forward to savoring the recently published collections from two of my favorite poets, Mata Hari’s Lost Words by John Oughton (Seattle: Neopoiesis, 2017), and Ego to Earthschool by Stephen Roxborough (Seattle: Neopoiesis, 2017).
And that is that, at least until next year...