Grace Kelly reading a book

Grace Kelly reading a book

What books have you read over the past few months? I’ve finished exactly one book this summer, and even though it was 832 looong pages it was totally worth it…

After seeing endless glowing reviews (“It’s not hyperbole to call this novel a masterwork — if anything that word is simply just too little for it,” one proclaimed) and getting the same recommendation from friend after friend for a couple of years, I finally made A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara my summer reading project. It was incredible — both the book and the experience of focusing on just one book.

I don’t have a Kindle, so I lugged my brick of a book everywhere. It took up all the space in my bag on weekend getaways, preoccupied me during beach days (I felt like this), and when we went on a family trip to Portugal my husband dutifully toted it in our shared carry-on. My three-year-old wanted to know “How many stories” my book contained, and approximately every 25 minutes on our flight from New York to Lisbon he gently poked me with a fistful of Silly Putty and asked, “Do you want to read your grown-up book now?” Yes. Yes, I did.

This was the first summer of my life, since reading Gone With the Wind with rapt attention in 1987, that I’ve tackled just one big book. Have you ever done that, or set yourself up for a summer reading project? My friend M. spent much of the summer reading poems because she missed studying them in college. And a few years ago, my sister assigned herself epic cookbooks like Larousse Gastronomique and The Kitchen Diaries.

I love the idea of making a reading goal and going for it! This list by Italo Calvino always makes me laugh:

Sections in the bookstore —
– Books You Haven’t Read
– Books You Needn’t Read
– Books Made for Purposes Other Than Reading
– Books Read Even Before You Open Them Since They Belong to the Category of Books Read Before Being Written
– Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered
– Books You Mean to Read But There Are Others You Must Read First
– Books Too Expensive Now and You’ll Wait ‘Til They’re Remaindered
– Books ditto When They Come Out in Paperback
– Books You Can Borrow from Somebody
– Books That Everybody’s Read So It’s As If You Had Read Them, Too
– Books You’ve Been Planning to Read for Ages
– Books You’ve Been Hunting for Years Without Success
– Books Dealing with Something You’re Working on at the Moment
– Books You Want to Own So They’ll Be Handy Just in Case
– Books You Could Put Aside Maybe to Read This Summer
– Books You Need to Go with Other Books on Your Shelves
– Books That Fill You with Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easily Justified
– Books Read Long Ago Which It’s Now Time to Re-read
– Books You’ve Always Pretended to Have Read and Now It’s Time to Sit Down and Really Read Them

What about you? I’d love to hear which books you loved this summer, or which ones you’re hoping to squeeze into the last few weeks of long days and warm nights.

P.S. The most beautiful thing you’ve ever read and 10 great thrillers.

(Top photo of Grace Kelly by Howell Conant.)