Summer’s heating up & burning out — have you read a single page of the 20 books you promised to read poolside before the sun leaves and the leaves die?
I like a lot of things. Pugs, Survivor, pineapple on pizza. The typical. Those are the meme-y things that make me both predictable and digestible. (Important tools every 2019er needs on their quest to be less human!)
One of the things I like the most is making promises to myself I know I won’t keep! There’s this adrenaline rush of “maybe I will this time” that runs through my veins like NOS and I can’t let go of the itch. This promise tends to gravitate around the sun that is books. You know, the things that give you energy and keep you alive? Those flimsy things. They’re great. I like those too.
Especially if they’re about pugs, Survivor or pineapple on pizza.
Quick sidebar: I think we got the calendar year wrong. We go January – December but it should be September to August. I much prefer the idea of starting my year edging into the dreariness and working my way up to short-shorts and drink umbrellas rather than starting off in the dead of winter and ending in the dead of winter.
So, before summer starts, I always promise myself I’m going to read a bunch of books. This year I kept that promise better than summers’ passed. I remember on my honeymoon get three pages in to Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and page 4 of The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse.
This year was different for me though. This year was a lot of starting over. I moved to a new town, got a new job, took on some new hobbies, developed some new habits. All the time I’ve wasted reflecting and planning is now occupied by living and doing and that’s a better place to be.
So I wanted to make a list! We’re going with 5 Summer Reads For A Fresh Start but I’m not going all self-helpy on you. There’s a lot of angles when starting fresh.
Whether that’s overcoming obstacles, reflecting on a painful period in your life, accepting hard truths, embracing new loves, etc. There’s always a chance for you to shake off whatever’s been weighing you down and plop some new perspective into that noggin of yours to give you that cooling sensation of “everything is going to be okay, maybe, who cares fuck it!”
So here you go.
1. But What If We’re Wrong by Chuck Klosterman
The whole point of this book is about flipping ideas on their head and questioning our knowledge and perspective by thinking about the present as the past. Chuck’s a music guy, so there’s a lot of that in there, but in the social media age where everyone has an immediate take and there’s an answer to every question — What if we’re just straight up wrong? Look at our ancestors. They were wrong about all sorts of shit. I actually find this kind of thought experiment incredibly liberating because I’m so caught up in trying to get the right answers that I never stopped to accept that maybe no one has the right answers. And with that fresh slate… what’s next?
2. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
No one saw the world for what it was quite like Anthony Bourdain. He was right there on the front lines, seeing through the bullshit, contemplating humanity and eating a ton of fancy food. I often think about the choice he made to be such a work-a-holic, such an obsessant, that if he had not dug so deep or went so far, maybe things would have ended differently for him. But then, he wouldn’t have been who he was: A man that exhausted every last drop of his full potential. Walk in to when he was just a wimp on the frontline transforming into the worldy vagabond we one day came to know and love. I don’t know how anyone walks out of this book not feeling inspired. He accomplished so much but was in the gutter doing hard jobs just like the rest of us. If you’re working towards something while working hard to get by — this one’s for you.
3. I’m With The Band by Pamela Des Barres
Memoirs really have been my big-kick this summer. Pamela is so fun and whimsical and brings the flower power to life in such a way that if you haven’t spent your life trying to bone rockstars — you’re going to wish you did. A lot of today’s insta-hustlers are going on and on about “personal freedom” while being chained to their content calendars, tiring themselves out from chasing trends all day. (I’ll throw myself in that pile too but it’s mostly boredom. That’s my defense.) If you really want to talk about personal freedom, then you gotta start with values. And there’s no better way to do that than peeping into the life of a rock n’ roll groupie during a time when peace and love really tried to mean something. Prepare for lots of sexy-sex talk.
4. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Of all the memoirs I downed this summer, this one was the best. It’s been on my shelf for five years. My brother’s ex-girlfriend gave it to me in exchange for poetry I never had the chance to give her. (Because of the whole “my brother dumping her” thing.) The TLDR of this one is: family. You’re going to walk in the shoes of a rough one. And you’ll see conditions and circumstances far worse than your own from the eyes of a woman who’s accomplished a lot more than you. This is the fattest slice of humble pie on the list and the one I can’t get out of my head.
5. The Courage To Be Disliked
This is the only self-help book on the list but it’s the most sensible. You can’t be happy and liked by everyone. You can’t live to continually satisfy others. That’s bonkers. Don’t do that. I’ve been doing that for well over a decade and it’s the hardest monkey to shake off my back. I’ve never been good at being okay with who I am and I’ve always cared about what others think. So this one’s all about being okay with the fact that not everyone is going to like you, nor should they, and the only person you should be comparing yourself to is your ideal self. BONKERS.
Clifford Myers is a stand-up comedian from Cobourg, Ontario and can be reached at @CliffordMyers on both Twitter and Instagram.