Tuesday, July 15, 2014

#29: Listen to a Book on Tape (or just read one): Featuring a guest post from Alexandra Lubensky!

It's summertime, and therefore, it's time for some summer reading. However, if you're still waiting for your new glasses or find yourself working silently at your desk job, you may want to try listening to a book on tape. I have an audible.com account, but I hear you can also procure books on tape from your local library.

Now, most recently I have listened to and loved The Book Thief, but for your summer reading list, I have contacted a lady who does far more reading than I have. I fully intend on taking all of these suggestions for myself. She happens to be one of my very favorite ladies, and so I will give you her full post below! See here from one Ms. Alexandra Lubensky:

As somebody who has been a full-time worker and part-time student for the past two years, I know how vitally important the summer is for catching up on reading. Not the mandated hundreds of pages assigned every semester in school, but the completely self-indulgent kind that makes you stay up way too late or miss your stop on the train.

I’m obsessive about collecting book recommendations. Hopefully you are too and will enjoy some of these suggestions:

1. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Best Pal by Christopher Moore
This is one of those books that’s been recommended to me by multiple people and I finally got around to reading it over spring break. It’s a quick and hilarious read. The title tells you everything you need to know. Basically the entirety of what I know about Christianity is now based on this book, which may prove to be a problem in the future.

2. MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood
Three books rolled into one recommendation and you should read them all. This counts as speculative fiction but the premise does not seem entirely far-fetched. Crazy biotech, corporations controlling the world, environmental disasters, etc. will have you fearing for the future of humanity. Margaret Atwood is an incredible writer and you get entirely lost in the terrifying world she creates.

3. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Full disclosure: Neil Gaiman is my absolute favorite and I will gladly devour anything and everything he writes. This is his most recent venture and the first book for adults he’s written in a while. If you’ve never read anything by Neil Gaiman, you need to stop and reevaluate your life choices. He is a modern myth maker and his stories are beautiful and dark. This is a shorter book than most that he’s written and a great entry point to his work.

5. The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
Not a pick for anybody who does not enjoy unconventional prose and sentence structure. It can take a bit of time to settle into Heller’s style, but once I did, I found myself completely entranced. The story is supremely sad and tells of a pilot alone in the world, except for his loyal dog, after most of the population has been wiped out by illness.

6. This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
Junot Diaz is such a unique voice in literature and his writing always feel very real to me. This collection of short stories about Yunior and his attempts at finding love. Diaz is great at mixing humor and poignancy, and I think these stories will appeal to all of us who are searching for connection but are constantly being tripped up by our own selves.

7. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
I don’t generally read historical fiction, but this book was excellent. Miller retells the familiar tales of Achilles from the point of view of his loyal companion, Patroclus. This is a coming of age story, a romance, an epic. The writing is clear and lovely, and I found myself completely committed to the characters and their fates.  


8. Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart
In this memoir, Gary Shteyngart talks about his move from the Soviet Union to the United States the double burden of being an immigrant and going through adolescence. If you happen to be Russian-American (or an immigrant in general), you will no doubt often nod along as you think of the many times you yourself have experienced the same thing that he writes about. He brings out the humor and ridiculousness in customs and beliefs without ever leaving you in doubt that he loves his cultural heritage. I found the structure of the novel slightly annoying at first, but eventually settled into it.

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