Summer is almost officially over. Yikes, already? And although summer has been somehow historically designated as the “time of reading” — it is certainly not the only time I read. As my wife, who continually reminds me that the books on my nightstand are resembling a badly played Jenga game, knows well. That’s why I keep most of them here in the shed where I can play a completely different Jenga game.
Here are six books I have simply loved reading or re-reading this summer. Old and new books I’ve discovered or rediscovered through friends, other writers, and new acquaintances that have left me with lasting impressions.
True Course: Lessons from a Life Aloft by Brigid Johnson
I recently met Brigid after asking her to blurb a book of mine that’ll be published in 2020. So glad I did. Her book, The Book of Barkley is a a beautiful tale of how a dog led her through new chapters in her life. It’s warm and heartfelt. However, her newest, True Course might even be better. It is a brilliantly told story. Through her experiences as a pilot, she take the reader through the stories of a life held together by a deep love of flight and blue sky.
Fear Less: Living Beyond Fear, Anxiety, Anger, and Addiction by Dean Sluyter
Years ago, I read Dean’s book Natural Meditation and was transformed in many ways. The book eases one into mindfulness in a simple, accessible, and unpretentious way. His newest book, Fear Less continues on this path and presents the reader with insightful and practical ways to deliver yourself to a new way of living. I have not read another author who allows you to enter into the world of meditation and self care the way Dean does.
Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss by Margaret Renkl
This book is so utterly beautiful. Not only physically with the stunning artwork that accompanies the essays, but in the poetry of the words. In these short pieces, the author opens up the heart to stories of love and loss and the natural world of birds and flowers and even snakes. It reminds me of the works of Mary Oliver or Annie Dillard — a memoir that is unique, infinitely connected to nature, astonishingly well-written, and unforgettable.
Everyman by Philip Roth
I’ve read this book countless times. This summer I read it again. Many would argue with me, but I believe it is Roth’s best. A short and poignant book on the legacy and impact of one man’s life, an everyman, and how what we do and who we are can and will linger long after we are gone, and yet that life, although just one of many in the world, can be both heartbreakingly insignificant and stunningly relevant.
The Boatbuilder by Daniel Gumbiner
Read this three times now. A book about community and redemption, and finding your place in the world. It is funny and heart-wrenching and leaves a long and lasting tattoo on the soul. At a time when a lot of popular fiction is rather predictable and unsatisfying, this literary beauty stays with you a long time.
Partisans: Essays Joe Oestreich
I discovered this book while researching publishers and was blown away by it. The essays are raw and real and deliciously on point. They are both literary and accessible and that can be a very hard thing to accomplish. That feat seems to come easily to Oestreich.
Got any big favorites from the summer?
And as for the fall, I look to another season of reading and re-reading. Here’s my stack as it stands.