What’s the Opposite of Summer Reading?

February 27, 2014

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It’s like five degrees again here in New York, which is good news for one reason alone: it makes me more apt to stay in and read. Here are three recent books I can’t recommend enthusiastically enough:

Bark, by Lorrie Moore (hands-down one of my all-time favorites) is the author’s first short story collection in fifteen years and thus hailed as an event of sorts. Some reviewers have said the collection is uneven, dark, or overworked, but I couldn’t disagree more. I loved it. It’s the kind of read where you find yourself laughing out loud at the wry observations then stopping to let a sentence silently roll around on your tongue before moving on to the next one.

The UnAmericans, by Molly Antopol is another gem of a short story collection, full of sparkling and sophisticated prose. This is an ambitious debut by a writer to watch–Antopol is one of the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 authors and was a recent Wallace Stegner Fellow (for those of you not in the book world, that’s an honor that is bestowed upon FIVE humans each year). Reading this book made me feel like a horribly unaccomplished individual, but in a good way.

And last but not least, One More Thing, by B.J. Novak was a delightful surprise. I’d heard the buzz throughout the publishing industry, but I didn’t want to like it. I mean, there are so many talented people — “real writers” — struggling for recognition, it’s like, why should an actor get all the literary acclaim? But Novak is a real writer. These stories are smart, charming, and compulsively readable.

So the next time everyone around you wants to do nothing but watch House of Cards, gently suggest reading one of these books instead. It will be good for you, your brain, and the publishing industry. That’s something to feel great about! Unlike in House of Cards, where everyone feels bad.

Books: good for humanity. That is all.

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