Books may be the last best distraction.
Whatcha readin’ this summer, anything good? Have you realized yet how much better it is to disappear into the book of your choice instead of being aware of what is happening in what we are still calling “the real world” even though everything about it is offensively surreal? Are you looking for something to take you away? Here are few things that I have enjoyed that you could check out:
Pond, by Claire-Louise Bennett: Now in paperback! I have been telling you to read this for a while and now you have no excuse. “It’s not a beach book per se, but it is perfect for now because you can read it in a night or dip into it as time allows; the brevity of the chapters give you the space to take as much as you want depending on your mood,” is what I said last year and, as always, I was right.
Family Lexicon, by Natalia Ginzburg: Jenny McPhee’s new translation of this Italian classic is, naturally, from the folks at NYRB Classics, who are clearly overestimating how intelligent people are these days based on everything else that is happening in the world, but thank God that someone is. Anyway, the book is “a masterpiece” which “ recalls the great modernists’ reimaginings of childhood” and just shy of 200 pages, which should help to assuage any doubts you might have about taking a chance.
The Dog’s Last Walk (and Other Pieces), by Howard Jacobson: I am of the opinion that Jacobson is the funniest British man writing words right now, so this second collection of pieces from his column in the Independent (R.I.P.) is almost perfectly designed for me, particularly in our age of diminished attention spans. This is a great dipping-in-and-out book to have around, especially if you’re able to tear yourself away from your phone for a couple of minutes at a time.
While I have you here it is very important that I mention the two best books I have read this year: Bettany Hughes’ Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities and Kapka Kassabova’s Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe (which may very well be my favorite book of the decade). If I am still around I will tell you more about them closer to when they come out but you should pre-order them now so that if you are still around you will be surprised and delighted when they arrive, because either way I am pretty sure you will still need to disappear into books at that point.
Anyway, these are my suggestions. What are yours? Please tell me on social media, because social media is TERRIBLE right now and people talking about what books they’ve enjoyed is the only way it could get better. Thanks.