End-of-Summer Reading List

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.

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Recommended Christmas Reading by KU tutors and WPN staff

InterviewsFinally, we’ve arrived at a two-week period where we can read for pleasure and without the guilt of neglecting a series of critical essays we should have read days ago. The weather out there is pretty dismal, the sun is gone at four in the afternoon and you still have a few days until New Years Day, when you really must start thinking about finishing those essays you started last week. So, heat up the mulled wine and consider adding a few of these titles to your Christmas reading list while you still can! 

Here are some recommendations from Kingston University tutors as well as Words, Pauses, Noises staff. Enjoy!

Dr. James Miller:

I’ll be re-reading Toni Morrison’s ‘Beloved’ & Roth’s ‘The Plot Against America’ as I’m lecturing on both at the start of next term. Over Christmas, I’m hoping to read Andrea Ley’s ‘The Long Song’ as research for my novel and Ivan Vladislavic’s ‘Double Negative’ as people have been saying it’s one of the best books about South Africa ever written.

I also want to finish reading Julia Kristeva ‘Black Sun: Depression & Melancholia’ a work of psychoanalysis that explores these ideas through major works of Western art.

Adam Baron:

‘Pan’ by Knut Hamsum because it’s intense and lyrical and manages to make a man throwing a shoe into the sea about the most shocking event ever in world literature.

‘A Tiler’s Afternoon’ by Lars Gustaffson because it perfectly demonstrates the meaninglessness of all human endeavour and is therefore an antidote to our Disneyfied Christmas celebrations.

Jonathan Barnes:

This Christmas, I am looking forward to reading purely for pleasure. Peter Ackroyd’s new novel ‘Three Brothers’ has been waiting on my bookshelf for a while, as has Donna Tartt’s ‘The Goldfinch’. I also look forward to revisiting Eleanor Catton’s ‘The Luminaries’ free of the constraints of having to read at speed in order to meet a deadline. Not prose, but I will certainly be watching again the BBC’s peerless, chilling 1976 adaptation of ‘The Signalman’ by Charles Dickens, an almost perfect ghost story.

Words, Pauses, Noises recommendations:

Caitriona Marron – I didn’t get a chance to read ‘Everything passes’ by Gabriel Josipovici (for Lee Rourke’s seminars) during the semester, so it’s been placed on my lazy Christmas list. Also, I’ll be re-reading Rebecca Well’s ‘The Divine Secrets of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood’, a lively Southern American take on women’s oppression and succession of their time through the lives of four women and their ‘petit ya-yas’.

Cais Jurgens – This time of year I like to read books that make me really happy to be warm inside with friends or family instead of wherever it is I’m reading about.  One Christmas my younger brother was given ‘The Moon is Down,’ by John Steinbeck.  I snatched it up while he was playing with his new Xbox game and devoured it that evening.  Published in 1942 and banned in occupied Europe, this short novel is a fantastic and quick read that ends with you flipping back to the front cover to start again.

Stephanie Dotto – I’m trying to knock a few books that have been living on my personal reading list for years.  Some of these include ‘The Diagnosis’ by Alan Lightman (a physicist turned novelist who writes some pretty spectacular stuff) and ‘Wonder Boys’ by Michael Chabon (It’s a book about writers, which is always fun to read when you are going through the process yourself).

A special thanks to Adam Baron, Jonathan Barnes and Dr. James Miller for their recommendations. We sincerely hope you find the time to get lost in a book by the fire or at least pressed up against the radiator.

Safe travels to everyone and Happy Holidays. 

Recommended Summer Reading: A Booklist from Jonathan Barnes

InterviewsSummer is here at last! Words, Pauses, Noises suggests that the best way to spend a lazy summer afternoon is with a good book. One of our students, Jasmine, asked Kingston University’s writer-in-residence Jonathan Barnes for his recommendations on books to read this summer. He gave us a great list of some of his favourites as well as those he’ll be reading over the holidays. So, pull out those deck chairs, grab a cool drink, and get outside for some sunshine with a good book!

Jonathan Barnes’ Summer Reading Recommendations

I have been reading a lot for review lately so it will be an enjoyable break over the summer to experience some fiction purely for pleasure. However, books that I’ve read and written about lately which I would also recommend include Julian “no relation” Barnes’ memoir Levels of Life – heart-breaking in its candour; unflinching in its depiction of an almost unbearable grief – and Patrick McGrath’s deft, stylish Constance. McGrath is one of our most underrated novelists – I’ve been a fan ever since the early works: his short story collection, Blood and Water, his first novel, The Grotesque – and his latest, about a brittle, troubled young woman in 1960s Manhattan, is as elegant and subtly potent as I’d expected. I’ve also written a short piece on the new edition of J B Priestley’s 1927 classic, Benighted (filmed twice as The Old Dark House) which remains, almost a century after it was written, chillingly effective. His description of some primal evil which might lie behind even the most tawdry of domestic horrors is unforgettable: “his mind… found an opposing presence, an enemy… a density of evil, something gigantic, ancient but enduring… it was working everywhere, in the mirk of rain outside, here in the rotting corners, and without end, in the black between the stars”.

When going away for the summer, my suitcase often strains towards the upper limit of the baggage allowance due to the volume of books that I’ve crammed into it. This year, I’ll be bringing (for review) the late Iain Banks’ last novel, The Quarry. For research purposes I’ll have with me Arthur Conan Doyle’s Tales of Unease and that strange, ghost-written nineteenth-century text Awful Disclosures, composed, supposedly, by the wronged nun “Maria Monk”. For sheer fun I’ll be taking two books that I’ve never read but which have been on my list for a while: Julian Maclaren-Ross’ novel Of Love and Hunger and F Scott Fitzgerald’s Collected Short Stories. I’ll also have with me – and for this, I make no apology whatever – Stephen King’s splendid-looking new novella, Joyland.

Next Sunday, join Words, Pauses, Noises for more original content to help make summer a little bit sunnier.