It’s August already—we can hardly believe it! Only one month left to hit the beach or park, soak up some sunshine, and drink some Pimm’s before the holidays are over.
If you’re a big reader like us—and you probably wouldn’t be here if you weren’t—then you may have already read all of your summer reading material. Not to worry, we’ve got you covered with five book recommendations from our editors that would make great company on a warm summer’s eve.
Collected Lyrics of Edna St. Vincent Millay
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
My first recommendation is the Collected Lyrics of Edna St. Vincent Millay which was curated by Ms. Millay herself. This collection contains works from Renascence, her first published book of poetry, to Huntsman, What Quarry?, her second to last volume of published poetry.
Millay’s poetry is moving and surprisingly modern for her time. This book and the life of Ms. Millay has been an extreme inspiration to my poetry. If you choose to read this book don’t skip the introduction, which includes a brief bio of Millay’s badass life. It’s difficult for me to choose only a couple favorites from this wonderful collection but definitely read ‘There at Dusk I Found You’ and ‘Song For Young Lovers in a City.’
My second recommendation is also poetry, cause I’ve been feeling a lot of it this summer. I suggest reading Newspaper Blackout by Austin Kleon. Using newspaper articles and a sharpie, Kleon makes poems out of the words already on the page. It’s an interesting experiment with spacing and negative space and the idea that poetry isn’t just a linguistic art. Also it’s darn cool. A couple of my favorite poems are ‘In the Suburbs, in the Yard’ and ‘Orientation.’
Jo Longley is a graduate from the University of Nevada Las Vegas where she received her BA in English with a focus in Creative Writing. She is currently working towards her MFA in Creative Writing at Kingston University in London. She pretends to be Sylvia Plath reincarnate, and she likes puns more than most people.
This one has received a lot of hype this season—if you live in the UK, you can’t walk past a Waterstones or WH Smith without seeing its distinctive black cover lining the shelves. And for good reason—it’s a quick, highly entertaining read, which makes it perfect for summer. Expect to be pulled in right from the first few pages by the mystery—but if you’re like me, you’ll want to keep reading just to watch the protagonist Rachel sort out the hot mess that is her life.
This is another novel near the top of the summer’s charts. Consider it an exercise in point of view—Maud is an old lady losing her marbles, but solving a decades-old murder while she’s at it. The strength of Healey’s writing here is how completely she commits to her protagonist’s voice. Reading this novel is like stepping into the mind of a senile granny, and seeing all the bits and pieces of memory floating around in there, disconnected from their sources. It is the perfect blend of tragic and funny.
Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage
by Alice Munro
Moving away from the UK chart-toppers, my last recommendation comes from Canadian short story guru Alice Munro. I have made it my mission over the past year or so to read every book Munro has ever published—no small feat, considering she has to date published thirteen short story collections and one novel which straddles the line between the short and long forms. I have a very long way to get yet, but out of the six collections I have read so far, Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage is by far my favourite. The stories in this collection show Munro’s trademark talent for capturing the tragic beauty and humour of everyday life, and many of these stories had me reaching for a pencil to underline some of her many fantastic and heart-wrenching turns of phrase. My particular favourites in this collection include ‘Comfort,’ in which a woman copes with the aftermath of her terminally-ill husband’s suicide, ‘What is Remembered,’ a tale of death and infidelity, and ‘The Bear Came Over the Mountain,’ the story which inspired Sarah Polley’s 2006 Oscar-nominated film Away from Her. Read this book. I guarantee you will find something in it to love.
Karly Stilling is a Canadian writer of poetry and fiction working towards her MFA in Creative Writing at Kingston University. She is the winner of the 2015 Myriad Editions First Drafts Competition, and is currently working on her first novel.