Welcome to the Fourth Annual Jordana Horn Kveller Summer Reading Recommendation List (see the previous years’ lists here, here, and here). As always, this list is not exclusive, and I actively seek feedback/more recommendations in the comments. These are recommendations coming from a voracious reader who likes both highbrow and semi-lowbrow stuff, mostly fiction. Not all of these are new releases. Annoyingly, many books I still want to read this summer haven’t been released yet! Please follow me on Goodreads and let’s get mutually recommending! Happy summer!
In no particular order:
People say this is a weird mash-up of “Heathers,” “Gone Girl,” and something else I don’t remember (I’m actually losing my mind). It is not, by any means, perfect. But it is a thrilling rollercoaster of a ride that, despite an utterly unlikeable narrator, goes places you wouldn’t expect. Buyer beware: The ending was comparatively disappointing.
If you ever wonder whether there are any contemplative, interesting women out there journaling, look no further than Julavits’s creative diary chronicling her thoughts and insights. Loved it.
Terrific book about a man’s journey from faithful Hasid to disbelieving “heretic” and the implications it has for him and his children. Heartbreakingly honest and unaffected.
I wanted to hate this book—for its factual inaccuracy, its smugness, and the inanity of the subject. That being said, sitting by the pool and reading this book is kind of fun. Martin is smart, however controversial her “reportage,” and if read as thinly- veiled fiction, the book becomes enjoyable.
Beautiful dissection of the dissolution of love, youth, beauty, and marriage in Africa. Fuller is intensely intelligent, and her writing is luminous.
Memoir is a field I’ve only just started to appreciate, and one of the three memoirs on this list is Frank Bruni’s attempt to chronicle his life of family and food. I adored absolutely every second of this honest and heartfelt read, from Bruni’s struggles with his weight to his adventures as a restaurant critic for the New York Times.
For short story aficionados, an interlinking series of stories of suburbanites. Not quite John Cheever in either bleakness or intellect, but very smart and well worth reading.
Just loved this book, which reminded me in its quiet unassuming way of “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.”
Hilarious. Someone said that this book puts the “pissed” into “epistolary.” If you like jokes like this, you’ll love this book: To read it is to get the chance to live inside the head of a cantankerous freak. Extremely fun read.
10. “Us,” David Nicholls
This book was a kick in the ass. I won’t spoil it. I will say that it was so in depth and real as to be painful at points, yet somehow enjoyable at almost every turn. Well worth reading.
She’s smart, she’s hilarious, and she has real trenchant insights into what it means to be human. I also now know from reading her book that if I saw her in an airport and wanted to tell her this, she’d be bothered by my intrusion of her privacy. I’m so glad that I read this book. You should, too. Kicked Tina Fey’s “Bossypants” in the pants.
This is a short book because it’s really a commencement speech. It’s really transcendentally wonderful.
Three anthropologists in the 1930s caught in a love triangle in New Guinea. Great in every way: plot, character, writing style. Loved it.
The doctor/writer of “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” and “Awakenings” writes a beautiful memoir. The first half of the book is better than the second, but I absolutely loved reading this book by an insightful writer I admire.
Save this for the end of the summer, when the days are getting colder and you are starting to contemplate apples and honey. This book took me so long to read—not because it was long or hard, but rather, because it was magnificent. I will reread this every year. I could not recommend it more highly for anyone who wants to reinvigorate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur with new meaning.