Summer Reading

A little over a week ago I went out to dinner with some colleagues, and one of them mentioned that she was trying to figure out what her first "summer" read was going to be. "It's a lot of pressure," she said, "deciding on that book. It kind of sets the tone for the rest of the summer."

I hadn't necessarily thought of it in that way, but I do have about forty books I've ordered over the past nine months sitting around the house. I'm so excited about reading so many of them, I'd kind of like of like to just consume them all simultaneously. But, of course, I had to make a decision. And my answer was d) none of the above. I went to the Galesburg Public Library hoping they'd picked up a copy of Phil Lamarche's American Youth, a book I just barely dissuaded myself from buying two weeks ago. They didn't have it, so I looked around a bit, and found, on the "rental" shelf, The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid.

Part Camus' The Fall, part The Great Gatsby--this little novel was absolutely riveting. I said it's part The Fall, but it actually makes better use of that particular form; and I said it's part The Great Gatsby, but it takes a wholly contemporary look at the American Dream in a way that quite literally has me seeing the world a little differently. After finishing the novel on Saturday, J.C. and I went to see Knocked Up, and I found myself feeling a little disgusted at the "commercials" before the film, and at the enterprise that is Kerasotes itself. My feelings for these things are always there, I suppose, in the same way I was already aware of many of the ideas presented in The Reluctant Fundamentalist, but Hamid presents those ideas so fiercely, intelligently, and beautifully that they leapt to the surface there in the movie theater after I spent Friday night and Saturday afternoon with his book. It's definitely worth checking out--and was an excellent way to begin my reading this summer.

1 comment:

Matt said...

I just picked this up myself the other day. His first book, Moth Smoke, was amazing-- I just bought it randomly a couple years ago and was blown away. I can't wait to read this one, so I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it so much.