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5 Books You Should Read This Summer

Feel Free Cover
Courtesy of Penguin Publishing Group

5. “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership” by James Comey

If you haven’t heard about “A Higher Loyalty,” you probably don’t live in the United States (or have been absorbed in work these last weeks of the semester). The book, written by former FBI director James Comey, was published last week and has become an overnight sensation. This is probably not owed to its literary value, but to the rare glimpse it provides into major political events that have shaped the current political arena, namely the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the relationship between President Trump’s campaign and potential Russian collusion. Comey’s book is a great companion to “Fire and Fury,” The New York Times bestseller that shed light on the Trump administration’s underbelly earlier this year.

4. "A Horse Walks into a Bar" by David Grossman

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When the judges decided to award David Grossman the 2017 Man Booker International Prize for his novel “A Horse Walks into a Bar,” they praised his “willingness to take emotional as well as stylistic risks.” And indeed, over the past few decades Grossman, one of the most prominent figures of contemporary Israeli literature, has taken his readers on bold journeys of humor, pain, and compassion. His most recent novel tells the story of Dov (a.k.a "Dovaleh") Greenstein, a 57-year-old comedian, and his childhood friend, the retired judge Avishai Lazar. The novel takes place over the course of just two hours, depicting one of Dovaleh’s stand-up comedy shows in which his past and present irrevocably collide.

3. "Feel Free" by Zadie Smith

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“I have a very messy and chaotic mind,” Zadie Smith admitted in a recent interview with The Guardian. Apparently, writing fiction wasn’t enough to help the renowned British author organize her thoughts, so she decided to turn to essays, which are, according to her, more controllable. The result is “Feel Free,” her second nonfiction collection, which was published in February. The book includes insightful meditations on a wide variety of topics—from Jay-Z to Brexit to Smith’s own childhood bathroom. Smith’s casual, nonchalant style makes for a nonfiction work of contemporary critical thought that is the perfect summer read.

2. "Less" by Andrew Sean Greer

When the publisher of the novel “Less” released short summaries of its plot, readers might have been slightly confused. Is it “a scintillating satire of the American abroad?” “A rumination on time and the human heart?” Maybe “a bittersweet romance of chances lost?” Or all of the above? One way or another, “Less” seems like one of the most fascinating, refreshing reads for the coming summer. It is centered around the life of Arthur Less, a gay novelist who decides to embark on a worldwide journey in order to celebrate his 50th birthday and avoid his ex-boyfriend’s wedding. The novel’s author, Andrew Sean Greer, won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for fiction writing. If it was good enough for the Pulitzer jury, it’s probably good enough for your bookshelf.

1. "Ulysses" by James Joyce

Last month, literature buffs from all over the world celebrated an important event—the 100th anniversary of the publication of the first episode of “Ulysses” in the American literary magazine, The Little Review. James Joyce’s monumental novel needs no introduction: Published in its entirety in 1922, it is considered to be one of the most seminal works of modernist literature. It depicts a day in the life of Leopold Bloom, an advertising agent, in 1904 Dublin, Ireland. Doesn’t sound too exciting? Well, it sure is. Essentially, it is an innovative literary experiment, encompassing a myriad of genres and techniques from dramatic writing to catechism. It even contains one of the longest sentences in English literature. This summer is a great time to enrich yourself in one of the most famous novels of all time.

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