Friday, June 20, 2014

Camp Reads--Part 1

I am thrilled to share that I depart for camp in exactly seven days.  I think I've previously mentioned that camp is one of the best places in the world to do some reading, and thus is my pre-camp book shopping a rite of mid June that brings with it joy and, mostly, anticipation for the amazing books that I will get to devour in--let me say it again--exactly seven days.  This year a close camp friend and I decided to try something new.  We bought eighteen books together, and divided them up into nine and nine to bring to camp.  These books will belong to both of us at camp, which for me is just double the suspense--getting to own 18 books for seven weeks is very exciting.  Here are the first nine books--next installment coming soon!
1. The Great American Novel by Philip Roth.  Super psyched for this one. The back cover sounds like a blend of humor and good old fashioned American storytelling, which I really don't read enough of.  Described as "ribald, richly imagined, and widely satiric" on the back cover.  I would like to write back covers for books because it seems like a pretty exciting job.
2. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut.  I loved Slaughterhouse 5, and, according to the back cover, we get to learn more about Kilgore Trout, the semi-crazy science fiction author from Slaughterhouse and a really fascinating character overall.
3. On The Road by Jack Kerouac.
4. Love's Labour's Lost by William Shakespeare.
5. East of Eden by John Steinbeck.  A reimagining of Genesis, which I've wanted to read ever since my English teacher drew a metaphor to it in a very interesting lecture last semester.
6. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.
7. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway.  This is my second out of three World War novels (this one is World War I) included in the eighteen.   I plan to be an expert in the subject by August.
8. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz.  Main character Oscar Wao is "a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R.Tolkein and, most of all, finding love."  Again with the back covers!  This one also mentions a curse that has dogged Oscar's family for generations and an immigration story.  I'm already sucked in, and I haven't even cracked open the cover.
9. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan.
My book buying strategies are many.  First, I'm a sucker for books with cool covers.  If I like a book's cover design, it tends to be a tip off that I'll like the book.  Second, if I've read the author before and enjoyed them, I'll read them again.  Maybe it gives me a sense of security or something, but it works almost every time--a good author is a good author.  Most importantly, I always read a section of the book before I buy it, to get a feel for the author's style and see if I like it.  I can tell straight away whether the book is slow moving or fast, poetic or tell-it-like-it-is, dialogue or inner-thoughts heavy.  The only problem with that strategy is that it led to me picking up the unfortunate habit of reading a section from the middle of a book, not being able to put it down and reading to the end, and then never reading the beginning.  Which I suppose doesn't really count as reading the book, which does make the entire experience a bit of a waste of time.
Read any of these?  Liked 'em?  Comment me some encouragement!


  1. Can't wait to hear about the rest of the list. A friend of mine who used to work for Random House said "Publishers would be thrilled to hear that packaging decisions like covers and back cover copy are influential". Hmmm.

    1. They really are. Even little things like font/text size or the color of the book spine (of the 18 books, we seem to have an inordinate number of white spines, which I think may convey freshness and modernity) matter to me.

  2. So Scout, I just love your blogs and look forward to reading them. I expect you and Julia will have an incredible time reading, sharing and talking about the books you are reading. How awesome to be able to do this. Keep me posted and Bethany as well. She is really curious about the ones you really love. She is still on some of your other recommendations and enjoying pretty much all of them. Have the most SUPER YEAR! Hugs, Diane

    1. So glad to hear it! See you soon--if not on Saturday then I hope at visiting day!