Each year I release a reading list to my congregation of books I plan to read over the summer. I generally read the books that make the list, but I also add one or two unexpected titles. These are my reading ‘detours.’ I discover them in local book shops or in the NY Times book review. They catch my interest for one reason or another and before I know it the official list books are on the back burner and I am deeply immersed in some new narrative.
This year two detour books have appeared. One is the 2013 Mann Booker prize winner The Luminaries, by Eleanor Cattan, and the other the new David Grossman novel To the End of the Land. I finally finished the Catton book a few days ago. A monster of a read at 850 pages. It is beautifully written, but I had the feeling I was watching a magician’s trick – it was enthralling but at the end it didn’t ring true. I have high hopes for the Grossman novel but want to finish Hillbiilly Elegy before I get to it.
Some summers it is the detour read that ends up the best of the batch. This summer the jury is still out, but I have a feeling nothing will beat Lincoln in the Bardo which I loved, a book that truly moved me.
In the meantime I will keep my eyes open for further detour opportunities. After all, isn’t that part of what summer is about? Finding the hidden roads, the never before tasted treat, the unexpected delights and pleasures of being away?
What is it that Bobby Weir sings in Lost Sailor?
Drifting, you’re drifting; drifting and dreaming; ’cause there is a place you’ve never been; maybe a place you’ve never seen; you can hear them calling on the wind…