7 Books to Read Over The Long Weekend

7 Books to Read Over The Long Weekend

The daylight’s waning, morning brings with it a crisp chill. In recent weeks I’ve gravitated toward suitably late-summer books—moody depictions of an upper crust filled with cracks that play out post Dog Days—as though clinging onto summer even as fall beats at the door. But despite Memorial Day and Labor Day serving as the season’s accepted bookends, astronomical markers say we’ve still got three weeks left. Summer reading forever.

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  • ‘Ripley Under Water’ by Patricia Highsmith

    Is there any series more perfectly suited to summer than Patricia Highsmith’s stylish, thrilling Ripley set? Following her most popular 1955 first, The Talented Mr. Ripley, which saw titular Tom insinuating himself into ex-pat high society on Italy’s coast, Highsmith conjured four more delightfully wicked escapades. This is the fifth and final but depending on your tolerance for spoilers (mine is sky high) they’re easily read out of order, as Highsmith fills in necessary details as she goes. In this, Tom is living in a small French town, married to a lavender-eyed blonde named Héloïse, and indulging in his penchant for life’s finer things: well-cut trousers, fine clear soups, the Scarlatti Opus 28. As the couple prepares for an upcoming trip to Morocco, Tom books a hotel, “the best in Tangier at present.” And while literal skeletons from Tom’s figurative closets threaten to clatter their way into the daylight, he doggedly insists on noticing the beauty in the world. He cuts dahlias and frets about whether the body he dumped in the river some years earlier has properly decomposed; while at the rental house of a suspicious couple prying into his past, Tom notes their tacky furniture with distaste and flees gratefully to his own home, Belle Ombre (which translates roughly to “beautiful shadow”). It’s an ideal book to wile away the warm season’s hours, right up to its very last gasp. (Knopf, 1991)

  • ‘The Remains of the Day’ by Kazuo Ishiguro

    Having read this more than a decade ago, I felt suddenly moved to cue it up in audiobook form during a very long recent drive. (I went with the one narrated by Nicholas Guy Smith, but there’s a Dominic West-version out there, too.) In the novel, Stevens, a proper English butler—one of the last of his kind—makes a rare roadtrip of his own to visit a former colleague, known during their working relationship as Ms. Kenton. The house at which he has served for the entirety of his career changed hands following the death of Stevens’ longtime employer; like an unwieldy table sold along with the real estate, Stevens has stayed on. (Despite the great reduction in staff and his sense that his new employer isn’t quite worthy.) Over the course of his trip he keeps a diary of his travels, but also of memories surfaced: of the shifting tenor of his relationship with Ms. Kenton, decades earlier, of his former employers’ involvement with politics between the first and second world wars. The book is delivered in a restrained, polite register, but there’s a roil of delusion, willful blindness, desire, and sacrifice under its soothing surface. (Knopf, 1990)

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