The Gavel brings you a guide to summer reading for those perfect beach days when the sun is shining, the sea breeze is blowing and the only thing sweeter than staying in that moment is escaping into another between the pages of a new book. Here are Copy Editor, Miranda Richard's picks:
This is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz (240 pages)
Junot Díaz’s spellbinding collection of short stories profiles Yunior, a young Dominican immigrant modeled after the author himself. Díaz’s characteristically fast rhythm refuses to pause to allow the reader to make sense of the words on paper. His smooth integration of Spanish words into his English prose creates a sense of authenticity more commonly lost in language barriers. This is How You Lose Her challenges the reader to see the world through Yunior’s eyes, as an outsider who struggles to become an insider. Yunior’s first-person speech about navigating immigration in tandem with romantic and familial relationships leaves the reader breathless and yearning for more.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed (315 pages)
Wild, a memoir, is the story of Cheryl Strayed, a woman who decided to hike the entire Pacific Coast Trail in order to overcome a tragic event in her life. While there is certainly no shortage of Into the Wild-esque literature about men finding themselves in the wilderness, Strayed’s female perspective is refreshing. She refers to her decision to hike the trail alone as a mission to create “radical aloneness,” leaving behind no paper trail and making no contact with the rest of civilization for weeks at a time. The author has an uncanny ability to blend humor into her journey from tragedy to salvation, and her writing is as entertaining as it is inspirational. Wild reads not so much as a flat line of soul-searching, but as a crescendo of reinvention.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (336 pages)
For those who will never outgrow young adult fiction, Eleanor & Park is a must-read. Fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars will be enthralled by the love affair between high schoolers who are as different as they are kindred spirits. The story is set in 1986 and it follows the unlikely lovers through more than their fair share of hardships while they find salvation through each other and through comic books and music. Eleanor, bullied constantly and abused by her stepfather, is not quick to warm up to half-Korean semi-popular Park, but their love affair slowly becomes electric. Rowell’s eclectic descriptions add an unparalleled sensuality that makes the story as intense as it is unique. Eleanor & Park is a love story like no other. It is not a story of lovers against just one outside force as in Romeo and Juliet, but one of lovers against the world.
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (560 pages)
Meg Wolitzer’s ninth novel is an examination of the changes and consistencies of growing up. The protagonist, Jules Jacobson, spent her childhood summers at a prestigious arts camp, away from her un-poetic life in a New York suburb. As they age, Jules and her camp clique, the self-proclaimed “Interestings,” grow apart while keeping in contact, constantly forcing Jules to question her definitions of success and what it means to be “interesting.” Through Jules’ obvious intelligence and witty style, the author tackles the theme of self-invention in a fresh and inspiring way.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (775 pages)
The Goldfinch, winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished fiction by an American author is as captivating as it is long. Theo Decker, a protagonist the reader can’t help but love, is traumatized as an adolescent in a terrorist bombing that kills his mother, a single parent. In the aftermath of the bombing, Theo finds himself in possession of a priceless painting by Carel Fabritius. The Goldfinch chronicles the next ten years of Theo’s life as he navigates relationships, drug addiction and depression, with the stolen painting looming in his mind. Tartt’s lengthy descriptions are as captivating as they are dark, and she adds fresh perspective to Dickensian themes. The Goldfinch is absolutely a distinguished work of fiction and, though it is very long, is worth the investment.
Hit the beach (and the books) and enjoy!