Essential Reading: August 2015
Well, July was an interesting month. Five books, fifteen movies, and countless podcast episodes. I didn’t get to read Emily L. by Marguerite Duras but the book that I read more than made up for it. In case you’re wondering, the book was Paper Towns by John Green which surprised me and some people that I know. Also, in an act of providence, I read three thematically-linked books which made for an interesting reading experience that I didn’t really intend. What the theme was, I leave up to you to guess. Anyway, here are the books that I read last July:
- The Quiet American by Graham Greene (4/5)
- Paper Towns by John Green (5/5)
- Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor (5/5)
- Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin (5/5)
- Silence by Shusaku Endo (4/5)
Well, it is obvious that I loved my July with three books getting perfect marks and the rest receiving near-perfect ones. The Quiet American was a step up from The Third Man but cannot achieve the perfection that is The End of The Affair but it still featured some very good writing from Greene. Paper Towns is probably my favorite YA book and certainly earned its place in my personal canon. Wise Blood gave me an understanding as to why a writer who has written only two novels and two short story collections is considered to be one of the greatest American writers who has ever lived and Flannery O’Connor certainly deserves such a distinction. James Baldwin’s novel, Giovanni’s Room, about an American expatriate in Paris who falls in love with a man while he is engaged to be married is one of the most heartbreaking narratives in all of fiction featuring great and inspired writing. Shusaku Endo’s novel about a priest who suffers from persecution in 17th-century Japan is a profound examination of faith.
Enough about last month’s reads, here is what I have in store for August:
- Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates – A few months ago, I read an article by Coates written for The Atlantic called “The Case for Reparations” which was one of the articles that not only opened my eyes to how amazing of a writer Coates is but also towards Coates’ subject matter which is race relations in the United States. This book is probably an extension on what Coates has written for The Atlantic and is being hailed as necessary reading by Toni Morrison and has caused Coates to be given the mantle as a successor to James Baldwin.
- Spillway by Djuna Barnes – I’ve tried reading this last year but other books got in the way so I’ve decided to give this another go, Barnes being hailed as one of the most underrated writers of her generation. Also it’s The Short Story Station’s birthday this August and this is my first way of commemorating that.
- Ubik by Philip K. Dick – This is our book club’s book of the month and I am already halfway through one of the most revelatory books that I have ever read. Revelatory in a sense that Dick is one of the ballsiest writers that I have ever encountered and that I can’t believe I’m reading him just now.
- Conversations with Beethoven by Sanford Friedman – A recent addition to NYRB’s amazing library, Conversations with Beethoven tells the story of Beethoven’s last year and is told completely in notebook entries.
- The Pegnitz Junction by Mavis Gallant – I forgot my copy of Gallant’s Paris Stories in the middle of reading it back home in The Philippines and I have missed her ever since especially since the first story was so good. Also, this being another short story collection, The Pegnitz Junction is my second way of commemorating The Short Story Station’s birthday.
And that’s all for this month’s edition of Essential Reading.