allegra130204a019Poet Allegra Berndt sent us some summer reading recs. One of them was also recommended by poet Talvi Ansel way back in June. But I bet you didn’t get to it yet, did you? Neither did we.

But it was so rainy this morning– almost time to switch from iced coffee to hot tea. And almost time to quit going for walks at dusk and instead just sit by the window and read. So maybe it’s not only not too late to recommend summer reading. Maybe it’s almost too early.

Here are Allegra’s recs:

The Summer Book

summer bookKathryn Davis has a wonderful introduction to The Summer Book in the New York Review edition, and to the author, which describes Tove Jansson’s upbringing in Finland and her love of the islands around the coast. Her rocky beaches and crabbed sandy forests are uncannily like the New England coastline, familiar to those who spent summers along that green ocean. Jansson’s writing is not spare, but has the quality of work that has been curated. Each word has been chosen because it is the right one, including the dialogue, which is unnervingly well written. And so there are layers to peel within the story and without, if so inclined, but the book doesn’t demand it. Instead it offers a grandmother and granddaughter who pass the summer together on the islands.

Oaxaca Journal

booksI love travel writing in the summer, and the farther the better. Oaxaca Journal is the notebook of psychologist Oliver Sacks, who joins a fern collecting trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, as an enthusiast and traveler. Sacks is known primarily for his case studies, as in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and the more recent Hallucinations. In the Journal, he retains the equilibrium that characterizes his narrative voice as a scientist, but he is at his most vulnerable, revealing the cares of his old age and uncertainties. The notebook is the better for these quirks, as he also includes a charming personal recipe for ingesting hallucinogens. Candidly arranging his observations, the Journal is the freewheeling musings of a man who has many interests and a vast range of knowledge.