SVA Summer Reading Friday Finale: Simon Van Booy’s Picks, Plus Highlights from the Series

September 4, 2015

Labor Day weekend beckons, and with an extra day to soak up the sun or retreat into an air conditioned sanctuary, we have a few final summer reading suggestions from Simon Van Booy, Humanities and Sciences instructor and distinguished novelist of , Everything Beautiful Began After and The Secret Lives of People in Love, among others, to close out our month-long series. And in case you missed our previous posts, we also have a quick roundup highlighting reading suggestions from other SVA faculty members.

souls200Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf: This brilliant and beautiful book distills the longing and disappointment of human lives into something quiet and magical.

Man with a Blue Scarf: On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucian Freud by Martin Gayford: This non-fiction work takes us into the obsessive genius of the modern portrait painter, Lucian Freud.

saffron200The Saffron Road: A Journey With Buddha’s Daughters by Christine Toomey: Journalist Toomey follows the lives of women who chose to become Buddhist nuns. It’s a fascinating look at what our lives mean and ways of looking at death.

Highlights from the SVA Summer Reading Friday series:

Maryhelen Hendricks picks Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard: “Ironic, leisurely, aesthetic, introspective, Knausgaard’s novels are brilliant, unique acts of story-telling. Not a typical beach-read, A Time for Everything speculates on the nature of the divine and angels. Knausgaard retells stories from Genesis, reminding us that they were originally orally transmitted tales, which changed shape in the retelling…. I am about to begin Knausgaard’s My Struggle, a series of novels that has ignited Europe and have been translated into dozen of languages. His works are dazzling.”

Tom Huhn suggests reading Elizabeth Kolbert‘s The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History: “Kolbert is widely admired as one of the most elegant and concise writers on contemporary science, and this book tells the fascinating story of how human beings are responsible for the latest mass extinction. This makes the book sound depressing, though strangely enough it is anything but that.”

Michele Zackheim on a trilogy of works by Jane Gardam: “The Man in the Wooden Hat, Last Friends and Old Filth by Jane Gardam are three novels that could, really should, be read in order. When I finished the last novel, I had to take a walk around the block to work off my disappointment that there wasn’t a fourth. The writer revisits most of the same characters in all three books and you care about them with all your heart. It has been said that Gardam can be compared to Dickens. I agree.”

Louis Phillips recommends The Insanity Defense: The Complete Prose by Woody Allen: “These humor pieces are short. The reader can dip in, go for a dip, and come back to the book, and dip in again.”

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