- The Look of the Book: Jackers, Covers, & Art at the Edges of Literature by Peter Mendelsund – I’ll nearly always pick up a book about book covers and this one concentrated largely on the twentieth century. I appreciated hearing from designers on their process and interactions (or not) with authors, as well as seeing mock ups that were never used. I surprised myself in recognizing the classic 90s book cover, namely on James Joyce’s Ulysses.
- Dark Archives: A Librarian’s Investigation Into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin by Megan Rosenbloom – This might sound ghoulish, but it’s quite thoughtful and calm. The author is a medical librarian and as a collection manager has had to think about the provenance, ethics and lore of the different kinds of human remains donated or obtained at institutions for teaching.
- Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them by Karl Pillemer – The author conducted the first national survey into family estrangement and reached more than 1000 people. The style is straightforward and supportive, and promises understanding and comfort to this sad and often hidden issue.
- Folly by Laurie B. King – All caught up on King’s wonderful Mary Russell (and Sherlock Holmes) series, I went back and found this mystery set in the San Juan Islands. It packs in a double mystery while the protagonist rebuilds a cabin on a lonely small private island. I’m also enjoying another Holmes-inspired novel, A Conspiracy in Belgravia by Sherry Thomas. Mysteries are my go-to genre for escape reading.
- See/Saw: Looking at Photographs: Essays 2010-2020 by Geoff Dyer – It’s helpful to have a curious and interested guide when looking at photographs and to provide context about the photographers. This set of essays is mostly chronological and starts with the prolific Atget, whose documentary approach I’ve always found mysterious. Right away I appreciated Dyer reminding me that photography is an art of time, as much as of space.
- The Aeneid, translated by Shadi Bartsch – It had been a while since I’d read the Aeniad and I was taken back to class reading the sections of ekphrasis. I’d never forgotten that concept since learning it and was fascinated by the idea of reading about fictionalized art works in literature described with enough detail to really see it in the mind’s eye. Still, it does not exactly come up in my everyday life. Big surprise I found the concept transformed in The Look of the Book, where the author calls book covers a kind of reverse ekphrasis.
There’s no shortage of best sellers to choose from, or lists of beach reads for summer. But beach reads or backyard reads, many of us take extra time in the summer to read.