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The Literary Edit: Our June Reading List

These five energizing reads are the perfect accompaniment to any summer day.
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Like so many, I adore summer – the lazy days, the dinners outside, the countless hours by the water. There's the sense that time is unlimited, and the summer reading list (of our choice) is within reach. 

Work-wise, summer is my busiest time, but that precious sense of carefree summer energy still lingers in my memory, and reading, for me, has always been the quickest way to bring those good vibes back. Here are a few top picks to kickstart the season! 

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1. There There by Tommy Orange

This is my absolute must-read. Tommy Orange’s debut novel grips from the first sentence and does not let go. Orange tell the stories of twelve characters who, all for different reasons, are headed to the Big Oakland Powwow. At the same time, Orange threads through the narrative fabric a reminder about the very real atrocities committed upon our country’s native people. Orange writes with an energy that is palpable, practically beating off the page, yet couples this with such a sense of humanity and character, and the balance is remarkable. This is an utterly rich and vibrant read.

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2. The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

As I was looking at my list, I realized I didn’t pick the lightest reads for summer, but what they lack in froth, they make up for in terms of their all-consuming storylines. I was a big fan of Kushner’s book The Flamethrowers a few years ago, and so I couldn’t wait for her latest. I eagerly curled up with The Mars Room and read it – or perhaps "consumed" is a better word – over the space of a weekend. The story centers on Romy Hall, a young mother sentenced to two life sentences (plus six years) in prison, and flips between her present days in jail and flashbacks from her past. Kushner handles this structure easily, and as a reader, the narrative never feels jumbled or anachronistic – it just works. Kushner writes with such an intensity that the story will stay in your head and color your day – it is hard to shake, and that is what makes it so very good. 

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5. Polishing the Mirror by Ram Dass

When the world seems to spin and the chaos seems to reach a fever pitch, as it did last week with the devastating losses of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, I tend to go back to the bookshelves in search of spiritual texts, for they always ground me and staunch the feelings of hopelessness that sadness and confusion often carry with them like an echo. And, all cards on the table, I probably chose this latest from Ram Dass since he was top of my mind after finishing Michael Pollan's How to Change Your Mind where I revisited Dass' and Timothy Leary's Cambridge days. It's a good choice and a very good book, and if, like me, you feel that the world seems to be spinning a bit more these days, Ram Dass's Polishing the Mirror is a worthy and compassionate antidote.

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