Today my blog is three years old, and I hope it keeps going for years to come. It has all been fun! Also, as of yesterday, there are 280 book reviews here, not including the weekly reflections on the fiction in The New Yorker (I still hope to add something similar for short stories published elsewhere, but finding the time . . .).
In an effort to personally revisit some of my favorite books (or, if not my favorites, books that have remained with me nonetheless), and to re-recommend them, I’ve decided to start a new monthly feature (or, at least, see if a new monthly feature fits here). It’s a simple list of five books worth reading or revisiting that were previously reviewed on The Mookse and the Gripes.
I’m going to try to recommend books that fit the month in some way (for example, most of the books on this July list emphasize the summer), but who knows? Links in the text are to the original post. Now, on to it.
- The Ghost Writer, by Philip Roth (original review from July 4, 2008). This is not a summer book (it’s a crsip New England winter’s night followed by a painfully clear winter’s morning), but I’m including it here because it was one of the first books I reviewed on this blog, and Roth became in many ways the revving motor keeping this blog moving in its early days. It is still my favorite Philip Roth book.
- The Virgin Suicides, by Jeffrey Eugenides (original review from July 11, 2008). Now this is a summer book. Eugenides makes you feel the sticky heat as he tells this wonderful, awful tale. If you’ve only read Middlesex, I’d say you haven’t read Eugenides’ best.
- The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald (original review from February 8, 2009). I’m sure most people reading this post have read this book (right?). But I can’t help but include it because, again, this book just emphasizes the summer: the wind blowing through the room, the lawn parties, the swimming pool. Plus, it’s a book that can be read every summer and never wear out.
- A Month in the Country, by J.L. Carr (original review from March 8, 2009). Ahh, this is a lovely, peaceful book about a summer month in the country. A World War I veteran is called to restore a recently uncovered medieval judgment painting in a church in Oxgodby.
- The Halfway House, by Guillermo Rosales (original review from May 17, 2009). Not a feel good summer book, but the empty heat of Miami is omnipresent in this quasi-autobiographical book about a highly literate Cuban revolutionary (a “double exile”) who spends time in a decrepit halfway house ran by abusive manager. It’s a cruel book, and one that not everyone will like, but I think its discomfort nicely done.