Looking for a fresh summer reading list that features both poetry and fiction? Read on to explore a mix of new and classic books from BOA Editions—specially tailored by our interns to help you find just the right for this summer.
1. For Readers Looking for a Good Beach Read
Molly Reid’s The Rapture Index, the winner of BOA’s Short Fiction Prize, is a collection of stories that expose human nature and reveal our fears and wonders through strange interactions with animals. Typically, animals take a backseat and invisible role in human life, but here, each animals represents our most precious and wild memories, becoming symbols of milestones and adventures along the way. This book is a page-turner with each story represented by a new unexpected creature.
2. For Readers Anticipating a Long Plane Flight
Looking for a long read to get you through that pre-vacay flight? The Education of a Poker Player is a fine choice! Each short story is an autobiographical mirror, giving the reader insight into the author’s own life transformation from a child raised in the Catholic Church to learning the temptations of the outside world of women and gambling. This book spans across one man’s journey to find himself within religion, faith, and poker.
3. For Readers with Summer Nostalgia
The summer brings about memories made with friends and strangers alike, and Rail by Kai Carlson-Wee is a collection of poems that evokes that same feeling as the author reveals the portraits of the American West he observed during his travels train-hopping. In “Depression”, he writes:
Days fall back
inside themselves like water.
Now the river takes its color from the weeds
and my friends are half asleep
in their anticipated lives.
Moments like these are captured throughout the collection, which is bound to call to mind the days of summers gone by.
4. For Readers Lounging by the Pool
If you’re looking for an introspective read by a marginalized voice come to life, Trouble the Water, winner of the 2015 Poulin Prize, is a collection of poems that awakens a being and tells its stories through the body, the earth, and sheer experience. Derrick Austin reminisces over family, praises his identity, and touts the beauty of the human body and spirit. This book can be returned to over and over, revealing new perspectives and transcending lines each time.
5. For Readers Waiting for the Summer Rain to End
For days when the weather blocks summer plans, a thrilling read will keep you on your toes until that storm passes. Robert Thomas’ Bridge, is a collection of short stories that will take you into the despaired—and often times ironically narcissistic—mind of Alice, a seemingly normal office worker at a law firm. Each short story delves further into her subconscious, revealing the true possibilities of all of our dark thoughts.
6. For Summer Lovers
In his debut poetry collection Rose, acclaimed poet Li-Young Lee writes in “Dreaming of Hair”:
My love’s hair is autumn hair, there
the sun ripens.
My fingers harvest the dark
vegetables of her body.
This book is an ode to his lover, his family, his culture and his roots. For a sentimental and touching read, Rose is the perfect choice.
7. For Readers Who Want a Modern-Day Classic
Lucille Clifton is a poet that has heavily influenced the poetry world with her work, and her effect lasts even beyond her passing in 2010. BOA Editions is honored to have published the complete collection of her poems, and if you are looking to finally check off that classic that has been on your reading list, The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965–2010 is definitely a contemporary must-read.
8. For Politically Engaged & Socially Conscious Readers
Naomi Shihab Nye was named the Young People’s Poet Laureate this spring for a reason. Her work in The Tiny Journalist speaks for many of the young activist voices today, and it is a call for peace and camaraderie across all borders. This collection of poems draws from the poet’s imaginings of Janna, a young Palestinian girl aiming to document the turmoil of her country, and Nye’s own background as the daughter of a Palestinian journalist. This book is a representation of the global struggles that endure today and is a timeless reminder that we have to remember everyone’s humanity.
9. For Adults Looking to Reignite Their Passion for Books
As adult bookworms, it’s hard to fly through books the way we used to as children: skipping recess to read, a book glued to our hands during lunch. But short fiction can be our window into restarting that love of reading once again. Anne Germanacos’ In the Time of the Girls is a collection of short stories with familiar themes of Greek mythology, adolescence, and girlhood, all of which are contained within unfamiliar structures and forms. It is a book that breaks down what it means to be defined as a girl in different contexts and to understand the power that holds.
10. For a Poetry Book to Introduce to Book Club
If you’re looking for a short summer read to bring to your poetry-skeptic book club, Sasha Sings the Laundry on the Line by Sean Thomas Dougherty is a collection of poems that might just do the trick. These poems tackle irreparable pain, the narrator’s own struggle with humanity and coping with the rawness of emotion, and the complex landscape of a neighborhood and its even more complex inhabitants.
11. For the Wine Lover Daydreaming About a Summer Holiday in Italy
The Living Theatre by Italian poet Bianca Tarozzi, which was translated by Jeanne Foster and Alan Williamson, is a collection of poems ready to take you to a new landscape where the Italy of the postwar period and the Italy known for its beauty and mystery collide. This book is bound to transcend time with it’s gorgeous and enigmatic imagery seen in poems like “The Hidden River,” which reads:
She had red lips and pendant
earrings—their gold shone
like the water. A Sicilian, an outsider on that street
of sober, bundled-up laundrywomen,
eventually she went away.
This translation includes both the original and translated versions of each poem.
Nia Tucker is a summer intern at BOA Editions. She plans to transfer to Howard University in 2020.
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