“Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day” by Ben Loory
One word: impeccable. Winner of the 2011 Nobbie Award for Best Book of the Year, Loory’s story collection is pure magic — from televisions that talk to animals that live in small apartments to a duck who falls in love with a stone, honestly, what’s there not to love? The stripped-down prose is jam-packed with such crushing depth and illuminating imagery that it will cause you to reconsider your reality through the striking details. “Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day” shines with both brevity and profound vision.
“Why We Broke Up” by Daniel Handler
They break up in this one. Handler’s young adult (YA) fiction is sad but hopeful — Lori and Doug are perfect for the world, just not perfect for each other. (Or are they?) This underrated gem of a book will make you smile, probably make you cry and definitely make you ponder on things that are unsaid. But I must warn you, this is not your typical YA fiction. Handler’s stream-of-consciousness style and ample use of figurative language add beautifully to a complex plot, and his lead characters are a masterclass example of character development. If you’re looking to define a dynamic character, this book will teach you what AP Literature didn’t. The author weaves a summer tale with a distinct intuition that flows as easily as a mocktail does on summer’s breath.
“Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass” by Lana Del Rey
Admit it, Lana Del Rey’s iconic song “Summertime Sadness” is the original sad girl summer anthem. And her poetry collection, “Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass,” will also get you in all the feels. This unique, transcendent bliss of a book has undoubtedly cast a unique spell over the rhyme, meter and rhythm over Del Rey’s world constructed out of wet dreams, glamour and melancholia.
Del Rey writes, “But then I walked through the door / past the open concept / and saw Violet / bent backwards over the grass / 7 years old with dandelions / grasped tightly in her hands / arched like a bridge in a fallen handstand.” With ethereal word choice and dense imagery, this book has it all, showcasing the musician’s craft with words beyond the lyric.
“I am Thinking of Ending Things” by Iain Reid
In this psychological narrative, Jake and his girlfriend go on a road trip to visit his parents at their rural farm. A blanket of snow distorts the world around them. The moon hangs so far above the sky, it feels almost unreachable… only to discover, it wasn’t reachable in the first place.
Yes, that’s what the book is like — full of surprises. Iain Reid is unafraid of taking risks and turning his work into something unapproachable that almost feels like an invasion of space, of privacy. I have never seen a writer make such a convincing plot and create such interesting characters to populate his eccentric world.
Reid knew why he was making his book short and concise. His book had the exact kind of effect he was hoping for: dark and unsettling in a strange sort of way. As a psychological thriller and horror fiction, this book will take you on a ride. (Also, I suggest listening to the audiobook instead of reading the actual 224 pages in hardcover for the best narrative experience!)
“The Light We Give: How Sikh Wisdom Can Transform Your Life” by Simran Jeet Singh
Earlier last month, Simran Jeet Singh addressed the Stanford 2022 graduates at the multifaith Baccalaureate celebration by saying, “The world might at times seem hopeless and dark, but you each carry the potential to brighten it and better it.” In his compelling new read, his words carry a hopeful spirit, illuminating the pages with such light that for a moment, it’s almost necessary for the reader to step back for a moment and process.
Part memoir, part spiritual journey, the author’s perspectives on religion and race are fascinating to explore. This book is about metamorphosis, the ever-present evolution of change itself, as seen through the testament of hope, service and faith — the values that the Sikh religion holds.
This summer, take a deep dive into the world of talking sea animals, a breakup, a Californian dream, characters that are too cold to speak, and come to the shore and breathe to the ever-transcendent light that will shine on you forever and fill you up with aspiration and hope.
These were some book recommendations to keep your creative juices flowing in the hot summer heat and to let you radiate that big brain energy. Reading is so cool — isn’t it?
Editor’s Note: This article is a review and contains subjective opinions, thoughts and critiques.