What are your favorite books? The ones whose pages you find yourself turning again and again, relishing the sounds of
the gears and the glues that bring the complexity of a particular favorite, be it novel or collection, to the conclusion of each one’s story?
The hefty ones.
The short ones.
The dog-eared covered ones?
Culled together, that would make a list, technically, your list; one of suggestions or referrals.
It would be a list, right?
How about we do away with that label?
Oh, what’s that? Go against the branded mechanized edicts of the publishing companies that implicitly imply that “you, reader, must read this new work by this new writer now, this summer, since it’s being released now, in the summer and has ended up here on this: The Summer Reading List?”
Yes. No thank you.
Literary works should find you, not the other way around. Do we as a society really need, for instance, The Washington Post or The Evening Standard to handpick what it is we should be reading during the summer on our days spent relaxing at the beach, or lolling about on a catamaran, or soaking up sunshine in a Las Vegas casino’s extravagant pool, surrounded by all those other readers wearing the same one-piece bathing suit, each staring blankly at the same book murmuring the words of the pages as we flip through them in unison; a blasé indifference to our very own free will?
Ignore the lists and the lists will go away.
Pick what you have wanted to have read, or what you have read before or what you haven’t read because you’ve said you will one day make time to read it.
Make the time.
Blow the dust off a digitized version of a William Gibson short story, say, “The Gernsback Continuum.”
Discover “The Third Policeman” a stunning piece of metafiction from the 1930’s mind of Irish writer Flann O’Brien.
Learn French then read the book “La Valse lente des tortues” in its original French by the French author Katherine Pancol.
Breathe in a Vargas-Llosa. Pore over a James Frey.
Find the soul of Salinger in his shorty story “A Perfect Day for Bananafish.”
Linger on the pages of Günter Grass’s “The Tin Drum.” Now is for catching up and but it can also be for going back. Summer reading?
Lists are for later.
After all, it is summer, and summer can last forever.
Keith Garsee is a contributing writer and consultant for The New York Times digital magazine “Women in the World.” A Texas native and Hollywood transplant, Garsee currently resides in New York City where he is completing his first novel, “I'm Not Him.”