Summer Reads - Kira's Picks!

August 8, 2019

Summer Reads - Kira's Picks!

After a summer back at D+Q, I'm skipping town for the next 6 months. Until I return, here's a peek at which books you might catch my nose stuck in if we cross paths in Los Angeles! 

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The Anatomy of Melancholy

Robert Burton

One of the major documents of modern European civilization, Robert Burton's astounding compendium, a survey of melancholy in all its myriad forms, has invited...

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Weighing in at well over 1000 pages, this 17th century tome has occupied the bulk of my leisure reading hours this summer, and has been a true delight. The language is surprisingly accessible, and the author's breadth of knowledge staggering. From lycanthropy and demon-possession to humoural imbalances to good old lovesickness (one entire book is devoted to love melancholy!), Burton's life's work is an exhaustive and engrossing treatise on melancholy, a subject dear to my heart! All hail NYRB for making this behemoth available in paperback. 

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BTTM FDRS

Ezra Clayton Daniels, Ben Passmore

Once a thriving working class neighborhood on Chicago’s south side, the “Bottomyards” is now the definition of urban blight. When an aspiring fashion designer...

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I was highly anticipating this collab between comics powerhouses Ben Passmore and Ezra Clayton Daniels, and it did not disappoint. It's a super insightful and meticulously executed critique of gentrification, set in a fictional neighbourhood in Chicago. Though the body-horror component didn't agree with my squeamish temperament, I heartily recommend it nevertheless! 

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Alienation

Ines Estrada

Drawn in hazy gray pencil and printed in blue pantone ink, this book is about Elizabeth, an exotic dancer in cyberspace, and Carlos, who...

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I haven't delved into this one yet, but have been admiring Inés Estrada's work for quite some time, so I have high hopes. Plus, it's a near-future dystopia, which is always fun! 

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Exhalation

Ted Chiang

“Lean, relentless, and incandescent.” —Colson Whitehead “Ted Chiang writes with. . .visionary power.” —Karen Russell “True genius.” —Blake Crouch"THE UNIVERSE BEGAN AS AN ENORMOUS BREATH BEING HELD." From the...

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The latest collection of short stories from the author who wrote the story behind Denis Villeneuve film, Arrival, is starting off strong. Speculative fiction at times reminiscent of Black Mirror, perfect for readers of a sci-fi bent.   

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Hollywood's Eve

Lili Anolik

“I practically snorted this book, stayed up all night with it. Anolik decodes, ruptures, and ultimately intensifies Eve’s singular irresistible glitz.” —Jia Tolentino, The...

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Hard to find a writer more quintessentially LA than Eve Babitz, whose depictions of her beloved  city capture the high-low, glitz-grime dichotomy which I, along with her, love so well. So many LA authors love to hate the place (I'm looking at you, Nathaniel West!) whereas Babitz's genuine appreciation of it is refreshing and resonant. Though her own essays are often autobiographical, I'm excited to read this biography, thematically appropriate for my imminent sojourn in her hometown!
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Ariel

Sylvia Plath

The poems in Sylvia Plath'sAriel, including many of her best-known such as 'Lady Lazarus', 'Daddy', 'Edge' and 'Paralytic', were all written between the publication...

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In the past few months, I've been trying to get more into reading poetry, since I've always felt weirdly intimidated by it. I signed up for a fantastic mailing list from The Paris Review, who kindly send a daily free poem from their archives to subscribers, so thanks to that, I've discovered a bunch of amazing poets who give me goosebumps! But sometimes one just has a hankering to revisit an old favourite, and that's Plath for me. It helps that this hardcover edition is super cute and makes a fine addition to any shelf or bedside table!

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Hot Comb

Ebony Flowers

An auspicioius debut examining the culuture of hair from the Rona Jaffe Foundation award-winning cartoonist Hot Comb offers a poignant glimpse into Black women's...

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A former student of Lynda Barry, polymath cartoonist Ebony Flowers is also a scholar, teacher, and ethnographer. I blazed through her first comics collection in one sitting! Most of the vignettes are about the experiences of young black girls navigating racialized spaces. Too often, in predominantly white environments, the characters deal with racism, while they're considered "too white" in black neighbourhoods. A common thread throughout the stories is the (at times fraught) politics of black hair - a perm is never just a perm. By turns funny, poignant and affecting, Flowers has a knack for capturing childhood's tribulations and adults' attempts to shelter children from a hard world. A great debut! 
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Wage Slaves

Daria Bogdanska

Daria Bogdanska moves to Malmö to attend art school, sets out to find a job, and discovers that in order to work in the...

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I'm intrigued by the premise of this graphic novel, but haven't yet had a chance to read it. A woman moves to Sweden and finds herself in the absurd paradox many immigrants face: no job without a work permit, no work permit without a job! With few prospects, the author is forced to work under the table and endure poor working conditions. Having myself been in a similar position (young and unemployable in Scandinavia) in the not so distant past, her story feels deeply relatable! 

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K-punk

Mark Fisher

A comprehensive collection of the writings of Mark Fisher (1968-2017), whose work defined critical writing for a generation.This comprehensive collection brings together the work...

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I'm a late-comer to Fisher, but what I've encountered from his ouevre has been compelling. I love a damning critique of neoliberalism, and this was truly Fisher's wheelhouse. So I'm going whole hog and tackling this massive collection, featuring the best of his blog, k-punk. With a page count almost as formidable as the aforementioned Anatomy of Melancholy, this is the most ambitious doorstop-sized book reading summer I've had since the one in which I read Moby Dick, Infinite Jest, and War and Peace back to back! Wish me luck! 

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The Idiot

Elif Batuman

A New York Times Book Review Notable BookFinalist for the Pulitzer Prize for FictionLonglisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction"An addictive, sprawling epic; I...

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To counterbalance the rather intense non-fiction kick I'm on, I've got The Idiot on my fiction list. A semi-autobigraphical story set in the mid-90s, the narrative follows the teenage Turkish-American protagonist from Harvard to Europe, through first love, and coming into herself as a writer. I'm told it is delightfully funny. Surely, I'll soon contribute to the unanimous, resounding chorus of praise heaped upon it by all of my colleagues who have read and loved it! Seems like the perfect book to read on a long flight, no?

Posted by

Kira Poirier

Bookseller | Libraire