August 12, 2008

Summer Reading

I've made myself read only American authors this summer. Sometimes it's been great, other times it's been quite disappointing. Since a lot of the fam's books are packed up, and I didn't bring my library to CA with me, it's been a struggle finding things to read. That got me thinking about summer reading lists. Then a friend emailed wanting suggestions for outdoor campfire reading. This is what I suggested. You could hardly go wrong spending your summer vacation reading this stuff.

Short stories are best, of course, because you can do one or two an evening. There are no better stories for reading aloud and talking about and also giving a dose of creepiness, than Flannery O'Connor's short stories. They are chilling at parts (but not horror), wonderfully funny ("Lady, the monks of old slept in their coffins!" "Well, they wasn't as advanced as we are."), and puzzling. The volume that is best is A Good Man Is Hard To Find. Every story is a winner in it, but especially: "A Good Man Is Hard To Find", "The Life You Save May Be Your Own", "The Artificial Nigger", "Temple of the Holy Ghost", "The River" and "Good Country People".

Ambrose Bierce's stories of the civil war are good too, but they can be too wordy for a campfire. Also Russell Kirk's ghostly tales (the volume is called Ancestral Shadows) are good. If you want something British, nothing is funnier than P.G. Woodhouse's Jeeves and Wooster, or more classic than a Sherlock Holmes story.


  1. I need to read the rest of the Flannery O'Connor short stories. Come to think about it, when I contemplate how much I have to read, I shudder. Even as a guy who will knock out a book worthy of the name in a long evening, I shudder.

    Let me know when you have thrown off that constraint and need/have a bit of spare British reading time--I've got a good one for you.

  2. Anonymous7:35 PM

    and a great set of recommendations you gave me. I'm looking forward to picking up many of some point :-) For the camping trip, Kirk's ancestral shadows will be perfect.

    See you tomorrow!