The A-list | Great Reads

In The Anthology’s A-list column (“A” stands for Anthology, in case you haven’t had your coffee yet) we tabulate a few of the very best things in life. This list of must-reads is compiled by Katie Burnett, a friend, actress and writer living in London. Now you’ll know what to crack open when you’re done reading The Hunger Games

Is it time for summer yet? I am very ready for some sun, and while I always get into a panic when my TV shows go on hiatus for a few months, it means I can finally pay attention to my very, very large pile of books all begging for my attention. So if you’re looking for some books for the plane, the pool or for fun, here are my picks for summer reading.

1. Just Kids by Patti Smith

I am beyond obsessed with this book about the early beginnings of the “godmother of punk”, Patti Smith. It is a detailed account of her pre-fame life with the artist Robert Mapplethorpe, littered with stories of life in the iconic Chelsea Hotel, nights spent in proximity to Andy Warhol, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and the struggles an artist faces. It is a beautiful, sad, poetic and fascinating book that is not to be missed.

2. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

Here’s the thing – some people love to run, others hate it. I love to run but it took me years before I could proudly declare it, and I still wake up very sure I should stay in bed instead of lacing up and going outside. But when I’m in my Lululemons, with the right music in my ears, I can go forever. Or, like, an hour. Christopher McDougall’s book is a breathtaking look at the evolution of running, of ultra-marathons, and the people who run them. The author goes down to find a deeply hidden tribe of people in Mexico who are the fastest long distance runners in the world, for whom running is not just recreational but is what shapes their lives. Every chapter is an intriguing feast for the senses, and a constant reminder and inspiration to get on the running shoes and run not just because we can, but because we were born to do so.

3. The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald

If you’re mine and Kelsey’s age then Leonardo DiCaprio was your first and potentially favourite boyfriend, thanks to Romeo and Juliet and Titanic. I am a massive fan of The Great Gatsby and can’t wait to see Leo as the great Jay, but since that’s not coming out till Christmas 2012, why not revisit Fitzgerald’s other classic novels in the meantime? I love The Beautiful and Damned, and how it portrays life in the Jazz Age and the enigmatic world of the elite in 1920’s. If you can’t get anywhere this summer, might as well escape to another era with Anthony and Gloria Patch.

Fun fact – this book has long been thought to be based on Fitzgerald’s marriage to Zelda. Why not check out Woody Allen’s glorious Midnight in Paris and see Allison Pill and Tom Hiddleston recreate Scott and Zelda?

4. Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis

Bret Easton Ellis books are not for the faint hearted, and you’ll understand if you’ve read American Psycho or The Rules of Attraction (or seen the films!) Glamorama is no exception, as it dives into the world of a 90’s supermodel and is a totally satirical look at celebrity. Victor Ward is a vapid model and wannabe actor who gets involved in a dangerous international model terrorists….sounds nutty, yes, but thoroughly entertaining, especially as Ellis’s attention to detail is amazing to the point of unnerving.

P.S. Catch up on Katie Burnett’s earlier dispatches and add to your “When I’m in London” list: Sundays on Brick LaneSaturdays in Camden TownFriday nights at the theatre, and East Coast nostalgia.

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  • Reply camille May 14, 2012 at 4:16 am

    Coincidence! Matt’s rereading Glamorama right now. I don’t think it’s a book I can reread – as with all of Bret Easton Ellis’ books, it’s about the worst people in the world, and it gets pretty dark and not a little stomach-turning. Weirdly, his other books didn’t affect me as strongly.

  • Reply Kelsey Dundon May 14, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Camille — That’s how I feel about Ian McEwan’s The Comfort of Strangers. I want to re-read it but it just creeped me out way too much.

    Now I’m even more intrigued by Glamorama…

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