If you were around in 1960, you probably remember rockabilly singer Eddie Cochran singing about the “Summertime Blues” (check it out on YouTube!). The lyrics are clever—all about how the singer has to work all summer and so has “summertime blues.” Teachers of writing often have such blues as we work all summer to get ready for another year, often while also teaching or holding down other jobs. So it’s worth patting yourself on the back as this summer rolls in and, I hope, avoiding too many summertime blues.
I will certainly be working most of the summer: writing articles and chapters and working on books. But I’m also determined to take a couple of weeks off to relax and do some good summertime reading.
I wrote a few weeks ago recommending Keith Gilyard and Adam Banks’s On African American Rhetoric, from which I’ve learned a great deal (especially from the chapter on Black Twitter). But I’m going to take time this summer for reading outside our field, and I hope you can do so too. In case you don’t have a summer reading list set yet, here are a few books that I have on mine:
- Steve Almond’s Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened to Our Country, published by Red Hen Press, offers seventeen “bad stories,” narratives Almond says we must fight against and try to replace with “stories that offer a vision of the American spirit as one of kindness and decency, the sort that powered the Emancipation Proclamation and the New Deal and the War on Poverty.”
- Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Books 1-3. Go Shuri! Need I say more?
- For sheer escapism, nothing’s better to me than a Louise Penny Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novel set in the lyrically beautiful Canadian village of Three Pines. There are 13, I think, and I’ve been saving the most recent one, Glass Houses, for a special treat. Number 14, Kingdom of the Blind, is due out in November and I’ll probably pre-order it!
- Georgina Kleege’s More Than Meets the Eye: What Blindness Brings to Art, from Oxford UP, captivated me with its title alone, but since I’ve read other works by Kleege (Sight Unseen and Blind Rage), I know she is a gorgeous prose stylist who brings her keen wit, intelligence, and unflinching honesty to every page. This one’s on the top of my stack.
- Finally, another book about art, though this time it’s art in clay. Julia Rowntree and Duncan Hooson’s Clay in Common (published in Britain by Triarchy Press and available on Amazon) introduces readers to the Clayground Collective, a “project book for schools, museums, galleries, libraries, and artists and clay activists everywhere.” I love the idea of “clay activists,” and I’ve dipped into the book just enough to believe that I will emerge from this read as part of the activist group, who believe that we are losing far too much when we lose touch with knowledge that comes to us through making and through using our hands.
So I plan to try to balance summertime work blues with summertime reading joys. While I do, I’ll be taking a bit of a break from this blog space. But like Elizabeth Warren, I will persist—and be back soon.
Wishing you a peaceful and joyful summer.
Image Credit: Pixabay Image 1702617 by Bequest, used under a CC0 Creative Commons License