Summertime!

By Timotheus Vermeulen

Alright, here’s
my summer reading list. It features books I imagine readers might actually
enjoy reading whilst lying on the beach or gazing across the mountain valleys
or – in case you are holidaying in the Netherlands – hiding from the rain in
your camper van or tent (as opposed to those books I personally always think,
or hope, rather, I might want to read but inevitably, and not without relief,
keep pushing to the bottom of my suitcase).

Changing my mind, Zadie Smith

What Judith
Naeff said
. Thoughtful in a mostly intuitive way; emotional in a contemplative
manner, meandering and measured, exploring the cosmically great and the intimately small. This is one
of the most talented authors of our moment at her best. (I would recommend
starting your holidays with this book; it will put your mind to a kind of
inspired, meditative serenity).

 

I am Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Zlatan Ibrahimovic & David
Lagercrantz

The, ahum,
autobiography of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, not just ghost paraphrased but “ghost imagined”,
if that’s a thing, by David Lagencrantz, is, simply put, splendid fun. There
really is no other way to describe it: it’s splendid fun: intentionally (there
are spot-on characterisations of other players and coaches in football) and
unintentionally (in its apparent lack of self-reflection) hilarious, gripping
(it’s a rags to riches story, after all), suspenseful (which fight will break
out next) and superbly written. I’ve read it two summers in a row and look
forward to getting into it again this august. (Best on the beach or next to the
pool, if you ask me).

 

10:04, Ben Lerner

I think
this may well be my favourite book of the past decade: moving seamlessly between
life-writing and (meta-)fiction, farce and melodrama, cultural philosophy and anecdotal
kitsch, in a prose that is lively and spot-on, the novel at once reflects on
the ills of contemporary society and contemplates the more and less effective cures.
(A good second holiday book).

Can’t and won’t, Lydia Davis

Everything Lydia
Davis writes, regardless of what it is or is about, is the best American
literature has to offer. Period. (Wonderful for reading out loud to your fellow
travellers on long journeys by car, train or plane)

Precision and Soul, by Robert Musil

Precision and Soul is a collection of essays written by Musil
between 1911 and 1937. The essays are, without exception, mind-blowing, each of them in and of themselves timeless intuitive philosophy. (Indeed, if you begin your holidays with
Smith, book-end it with this companion piece by Musil.) If the collection is
timeless however, it is also exceptionally pertinent to our current moment.
These essays read like they might have been written today, dealing with the
simultaneous bureaucratization and monetarization of thought, the perverse
obsession with measuring everything, and rising fascism. Scary stuff, but essential
stuff.

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