So, I’m getting ready to start Semester 2 of my MFA at the Bluegrass Writers Studio. And, as much as I love the writing community and the professors there, this pretty much means that it’s time for me to stop reading what I want to read and start reading what I’m told to read. That’s not stopping me from powering through want I want to finish, though, and whatever you might have looming shouldn’t stop you, either. So, if you’re looking for a handful of good books to read before Summer 2016 ends, consider checking out the following:
Drinking Closer to Home, Jessica Anya Blau
I’ve just recently wrapped this one up after having had it on my list for a long time. It hilariously tells the story siblings Anna, Portia, and Emery, who all have to return to their home in California once their mother, Louise, has a heart attack. The story bounces back and forth between the children’s pasts and the present day, where they reflect on who they were and who they are today. The family is crass but heartfelt, and Blau does an amazing job of balancing humor and poignancy as she tells their story. This one’ll make you laugh, make you cry, and make you cringe, but by the time it’s over, you’ll be longing for more of this perfectly disfunctional family.
Peep Show, Joshua Braff
I actually came across Joshua Braff by accident. I was *obsessed* with Scrubs back in the day, which sent me into a sprawl of Zach Braff movies (Garden State, The Last Kiss, etc.) that I was heartbroken to run out of. I stumbled across Zach’s brother, Joshua, shortly after, and I haven’t regretted it since.
This book’s set in 1975, and the protagonist, David, is about to graduate high school. Unsure of what to do afterwards, he’s basically offered two options: embrace his mother’s hyper-religious tendencies, or work with his father in the family business. As it happens, though, the family business is actually a porn theater in New York City. Thinking he has nothing to lose, David joins the family business.
In the story that follows, Braff explores the ups and downs of family dynamics in a way that’s sure to resonate with anyone whose family’s ever hit a rough patch. In much the same way that Scrubs pulls at your heartstrings, Joshua Braff does the same here with an emotional exploration of two worlds and the family that’s in the middle of ‘em.
Everything Changes, Jonathan Tropper
For a lot of people, the end of summer is a season of change. Folks go back to school, football season starts back up, and the heat starts to fade away to autumn. Tropper, whose most notable works are probably This is Where I Leave You and HBO’s Banshee, does a great job of exploring these themes in Everything Changes.
The book’s about Zack King, who seems to have a picture-perfect life: a steady job, a beautiful fiancee, and a rent-free Manhattan apartment. But when Norm, Zack’s wild, living-on-the-edge father shows back up, Zack starts reconsidering it all. This, coupled with memories of his dead best friend, Rael, sends Zack into a spree of making changes in his own life, throwing his job, his engagement, and his relationship with his father into a whirlwind. Like with Tropper’s other works, this one brilliantly explores the male psyche in a laugh-out-loud, heartfelt manner. Easily one of my favorite reads.
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What books are you reading to round out Summer 2016? Let me know in the comments below!