While we never would have admitted it back in our school days, we always found required reading lists kind of fun. In fact, outside of shopping for new school supplies, it’s probably the thing that we miss most about childhood. That’s why we’ve asked Stephanie Anderson, manager of WORD (one of our favorite independent bookstores in New York City), to give us her top 10 picks for summer reading. Check what she — and a few intrepid staff members! — came up with after the jump, and feel free to add to her list in the comments.
1. Kraken by China Miéville (Del Rey)
That China Miéville is not the most famous author on the planet is a sin against something. His latest is, of course, fantastic and mindblowing. If you like your summer reads with a little more mystery, maybe go with his The City & The City instead.
2. Diamond Ruby by Joseph Wallace (Touchstone)
A classic New York story and absolutely perfect summer reading, complete with gangsters, a Coney Island sideshow and The Babe.
3. Role Models by John Waters (FSG)
A man we all love revealed through some of his favorite people — Johnny Mathis, Rei Kawakubo, Cy Twombly, Leslie Van Houten, and more outrageous personalities. A fantastic collection of hero worship.
4. Stories edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio (William Morrow)
Chock-full of strange and wonderful worlds created by an all-star cast of writers including Chuck Palahniuk, Walter Mosley, and Stewart O’Nan — and some authors I’d never read otherwise, like Lawrence Block and Jodi Picoult, the latter of whom turns in one of the best of the lot. And the great thing about short stories? You can read one start to finish on the train.
5. Elegies for the Brokenhearted by Christie Hodgen (W. W. Norton)
Knocked my socks off. It’s a first-person novel told in second-person looks back at five significant people she’s lost: a life told in deaths. Hodgen’s writing spins out dependent clauses like carefully controlled ripples of language.
6. The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald (Scribner)
If you’ve never read a Fitzgerald short story, do so immediately.
7. No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July (Scribner)
Read “The Swim Team,” it’s one of the most bizarre and amazing short stories I’ve ever read.
8. Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews (Simon Pulse)
The classic kids-locked-in-the-attic series has been reissued, so what could be more fun than reading V. C. Andrews again this summer? (Or, rather, flipping through the book until you get to the sex scenes.)
9. In Hovering Flight by Joyce Hinnefeld (Unbridled Books)
This book weaves art, nature, life and death in provoking and creative ways — beautiful characters and poetry from seaside to city. A gentle and gratifying tale.
10. Written Lives by Javier Marias (New Directions)
Mini-biographies of classic authors like Nabokov, Wilde, Rimbaud, Faulkner and Bronte written from the point of view of everything that went wrong in their lives. But funny! A must-read for any bibliophile.