What are you reading this summer?

Ashok Banker: I’ve been reading four wonderful new hardcovers, all published in the past few weeks: The Philosophical Baby by Alison Gopnik is the latest and perhaps the best of a recent trend in non-fiction books that utilize the latest scientific discoveries into the developing minds of young children to throw light on the human condition as a whole. Subtitled ‘What Children’s Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life’, it’s the kind of the book that I feel does what a self-help book tries to do, but actually succeeds – by giving us insight into our own minds, and Gopnik does it in a refreshingly witty, warm and humanistic narrative style. Jason Lanier’s You Are Not A Gadget is a must-read for anyone using Facebook, Twitter and other Web 2.0 sites without knowing the full story behind how they manipulate information, and use public content to generate private profits. Kathryn Schulz’s Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error takes on the antiquated idea of right and wrong and tears into it with erudite terrier wit. And finally, in fiction, H.T. Hamann’s brilliant novel Anthropology Of An American Girl is not just a great literary novel, it’s the perfect antidote for chick-lit for feminists who hate chick-lit. Though I much prefer the original (out of print) small press paperback edition to the newly reissued hardcover edition.

Daniyal Mueenuddin: I recently read Hillary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, thought it very good – massive and muscular. I’ve also been reading Tariq Ali’s fictional quintet, the final volume of which just came out – it’s an extremely ambitious and impressive series – and then an odd collection of Conrad’s novellas that I picked up in an Islamabad second-hand bookshop – called Tales of Land and Sea.  These might work as beach reads, if the beach is not too distracting.  The Conrad stories are odd – some very modern (Heart of Darkness, Secret Sharer) – and some very nineteenth century (Freya of the Seven Isles).  The Conrad can be downloaded free from the internet, buffet style – from Gutenberg, for example.  I’ve just begun Andrew Mango’s bio of Ataturk.

Geoff Dyer: I feel I could spend the whole summer re-reading Sam Lipsyte’s hilarious new novel  – and stylistic tour de force  –  The Ask.

Mohammed Hanif: Kai Chand The sar-e-aasman, Urdu novel by Shasu Rehman Faruqi)

History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey

A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

Home Boy by H.M.Naqvi

Pal Bhar Ka Bahisht(poems) by Sarmad Sehbai

Moni Mohsin: Lately I have been re-visiting novels that I first read many years ago, with a view to understanding how my tastes have changed over the interim. One such is The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa. Written a few months before the author’s death in 1957, The Leopard recounts the story of the slow decline and eventual eclipse of Sicilian nobility. Told from the view point of Don Fabrizio, the eponymous Leopard of the title, it is a tale about the disappearance of not just a class but an entire way of life. Sounds from my description as if it is a conservative, even reactionary book, but it’s in fact a work of great beauty, depth and power, which moved me even more now than it did twenty two years ago when I first read it.

Namita Devidayal: I’ve just finished reading Solar by Ian McEwan. I found it absolutely hilarious — the story of a much-married, serially philandering, supremely misanthropic Nobel laureate obsessed with renewable energy. I am also in the middle of The Cure by Geeta Anand, a moving real life story about a family’s struggle with life-altering illness, told with startling simplicity.

And from the folks at RHI:

Anirban: DORK – which I’m sure everybody’s read by now. It’s really nice and funny, and takes less than 2 hours to get through.

Chiki: Jo Nesbo’s The Snowman: if you’re sweltering in the heat, you might want to take yourself off to chillier climes with this terrifying thriller, part of the Scandinavian wave of crime fiction. It’s about a serial killer who abducts women at the first fall of snow – seriously scary stuff. I had nightmares about it and could only read it during the day.  Sophie Kinsella: I don’t love the books and yet in the last month I’ve found myself turning to the next one as soon as I’ve finished the last. It’s like having popcorn in the cinema, you buy the large box although you’re not hungry but before you know it, you’ve finished it clean and are stealing your friend’s. No wonder Kinsella’s the queen of chick-lit, if you haven’t read her Shopaholic series, try them. They’re particularly diverting after The Snowman!

Milee: I recently finished reading Kankana Basu’s Cappucino Dusk, an engaging story about a Bengali family. The Banerjees migrate to Bombay, where they have to start afresh, make new friends and face fresh challenges. I recommend this for a lazy summer afternoon. I have also been rereading Haruki Murakami’s After Dark, excellent for reading while travelling as its slick in pace and slim in size.

Neyata: Don’t know if these qualify as summer reads but I recently finished Jean Sasson’s Princess trilogy (Princess, Daughters of Arabia, and Desert Royal). I’m now looking forward to reading Love in a Torn Land by the same author.

Rachel: Too busy reading my own titles, but have just finished Greendale, the graphic novel (on Vertigo), and yes, it’s based on the album by Neil Young. I’ve just started reading Shehan Karunatilaka’s Chinaman, and although I’m no Sri Lankan cricket expert (yet), I’m really enjoying it.

Sohini: With the World Cup kicking off I’ve just finished reading the new translation of Moti Nandy’s Striker, Stopper. Might also be a good time to revisit Tim Parks’ A Season with Verona. I just picked up Midsummer Nights edited by Jeanette Winterson, a lovely collection of stories inspired by opera, which I’m really looking forward to.


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