McNally Jackson’s John Francisconi shares his top 5 summer reads
McNally Jackson is one of those quintessential New York institutions beloved by everyone from out of towners to dyed-in-the-wool New Yorkers—influential wordsmiths like Patti Smith among them. It is at the heart of New York’s literary culture, a place one goes to feed their bookish needs and desires, one page at a time.
Each summer, we ask a member of the McNally Jackson team to talk about the books they’ve recently read and loved. Here, John Francisconi, manager of the City Point outpost in downtown Brooklyn, shares his top 5.
He also pointed us towards two virtual book launches to mark on your calendar: Hysteria by Jessica Gross, August 18 at 7pm; and A World Between by Emily Hashimoto.
My Autobiography of Carson McCullers (Tin House Books) by Jenn Shapland
Francisconi says: Shapland’s book combines memoir, criticism, and biography to advance an argument about the enormity of what we get wrong when we misread a writer’s (or any person’s) life. It’s an elegant and entertaining correction and a re-introduction to an under-read American writer.
A Luminous Republic (Mariner Books) by Andres Barba
Francisconi says: I surrendered a night of my time to this novel, a single-sitting read from one of my favorite Spanish writers. Barba’s narrator, a social worker trying to rescue a small city from a mysterious and increasingly violent group of feral “jungle children,” is a marvelous creation. Ominous, surprising, and wise.
Everywhere You Don’t Belong (Algonquin Books) by Gabriel Bump
Francisconi says: Bump’s debut is one of the most exciting coming-of-age novels I’ve read in years. I finished it at the start of 2020, but I’ve regularly returned to its pages, especially for the way it describes the development of its hero’s social, racial, and moral consciousness.
Long Live the Post Horn (Verso Books) by Vigdis Hjorth
Francisconi says: Out in September, Hjorth’s novel about a PR consultant tasked with saving the Norwegian Postal Workers Union from an upcoming national directive that threatens to undermine the national postal service is peculiarly timely for these shores. Originally published in 2013, this English translation is a pitch-perfect introduction to Hjorth’s transfixing, funny, and philosophical style.
Every Day I Write the Book: Notes on Style (Duke University Press) by Amitava Kumar
Francisconi says: I didn’t love school all the way through, but I’m newly grateful for having had in-person instruction all four years of college. For students deprived of that now (really, for any and all kinds of homebound readers), Kumar’s writing guide/commonplace book is a salve.
Reading his newest is like having office hours – no, better; a drink and bookish conversation, in a bar – with your smartest, kindest teacher, or friend.