The dog days of summer have officially reached a fever pitch, and how better to savor the fleeting summer days than with an unputdownable book. Already plowed through your summer reading list? Or looking for a something beyond the typical beach read?
The following books include classics that would please any literature major, but with one great added bonus: they all evoke the glory of denim. Whether it’s the dusty trails of the west, political activists donning jeans, characters who love a good pair of blue jeans as much as they love the open road, or even a book entirely dedicated to denim, here’s a reading list to accompany all of your summer adventures in your favorite pair of jeans.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
Raymond Carver, arguably the king of the contemporary short story, had a predilection for donning denim. And this fine collection of simple, authentic stories feature characters that seem most at ease in a well-worn pair of jeans. There’s even a story entitled “After the Denim,” to boot.
We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live
The queen of 1970s California cool, Joan Didion’s full essay collection tackles topics like California, politics, art, and pop culture. But it’s Didion’s sharp intellect and adventurous spirit that evokes a classic pair of jeans — the perfect ensemble for attending both a Doors recording session and a political rally.
This loose novel-told-in-stories is Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Diaz’s first book, and it’s a powerful coming-of-age portrait of life as an immigrant from the Dominican Republic. These stories are as poetic and timeless as a great pair of jeans.
Levi Strauss & Co.
We’re thrilled to include our Historian emeritus’ excellent account of Levi Strauss & Co. in this collection, because it comprehensively details the history of the very first blue jean, which was, yes, invented by LS&Co. This is a classic for any denim head looking to learn more.
On The Road
If it’s been awhile since you read Jack Kerouac’s famous beat novel, it’s time to revisit it. The epic cross-country road trips, the jazzy prose, the shenanigans and of course Dean Moriarty — this is bona fide blue jeans Americana lit at its boldest.
Denim: From Cowboys to Catwalks: A History of the World’s Most Legendary Fabric
The tale of denim is a storied one — what other fabric was equally adored by cowboys, models, royalty and celebrities? This book takes a look at its interesting history, and remains a cult denim head read. Bonus: it comes equipped with a glossary and vintage guide.
A Streetcar Named Desire
“Stella!” We might all know the most infamous scene from Tennessee Williams’ classic play, but have you read the script with denim on the mind? It’s a trope that runs throughout the book and protagonist Stanley dons denim frequently.
People across the literary world have deemed The Flamethrowers the next Great American Novel — and for good reason. The book intersects the New York City art world with motorcycling in Italy and revolutionary politics. Rachel Kushner’s visceral tale might just make you want to put on some jeans and hit the open road.
Of Mice and Men
Ok, this was certainly on everyone’s school reading list–but the salt of the earth characters in Steinbeck’s novels are always denim-donned and battling the world’s many moral conundrums. In his classic, Of Mice and Men, protagonists George and Lennie are dressed head to toe in denim; “denim trousers, denim coats with brass buttons.”
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
A good summer reading list would be amiss without a David Sedaris recommendation. While we could have recommended any number of works by this hilarious satirist, it seems especially apt to recommend this collection of incredibly witty and touching essays because of its denim-centric title.
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