My Summer Reading

There’s just something about summer. Maybe it’s the fact that, unlike many of you I would guess, I’m not much for getting outside when the weather is hot. I’d rather stay inside in the cool and shady house with a nice big novel and a glass of tea.
Now this is not to say that I don’t like reading in the other seasons. In fact, there is nothing better than sitting in my beach chair at Huntington Beach State Park, South Carolina, watching the waves break and making my way through an interesting novel. Winter by the fire with a book and a cup of cocoa–check that, too. Even spring reading has its charms.
But I just want to give a quick thumbs-up to the two books I am reading now and recommend them to your attention. Note that I say “reading”–I have not finished either.
The first is Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton, a book released in 2009 and published by W.W. Norton. I have written about a book having to do with the art world last summer [Provenance]. Perhaps summer brings out the art lover in me. At any rate, this is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the art subculture. Thornton attends an art auction at Christie’s, a “crit” in art school, and the Art Fair in Basel, as well as visiting the offices of Artforum magazine. Behind all this is an intelligent writer who is investigating the commercialism of art, the transformation of art into commodity. It’s not a long book–under 300 pages, and the characters you meet along the way will keep you engaged.
The second is currently on the New York Times bestseller list. It’s Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder. I had read Patchett’s Bel Canto, a work that haunted me for days after I read it, so it was with eagerness that I waited for State of Wonder. It does not disappoint.
In brief, the book follows the journey of Dr. Marina Singh, who works for a pharmaceutical company, to the Amazon to track down her former teacher, Dr. Annick Swenson. Swenson is working on a new drug and does not want to be found; in fact, Marina’s colleague Anders Eckman preceded her to Brazil and died in the process of trying to convince Dr. Swenson to return. The atmosphere of the novel is nearly as oppressive as the heat of the Amazon; Patchett’s powers of description are considerable. The characters are layered and rich. Though I am only about halfway through this book, I can tell you that you will not be bored by it–it grabs you in its web and pulls you along.
So there you have it–two quick recommendations for summer reading. Take one up, preferably indoors and with a cold glass of sweet tea.

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