Summer Reading List 2011

It’s officially summer! And the City of Salt is beaming its beauty into my front room; a slight breeze causes the curtains to dance, tree leaves reflect sunlight onto my face, and birds loudly proclaim their agenda for the day–obscuring the voices coming from kitchen radio. From my living-room window, the visible twin peaks of Mt. Olympus still wear a thick mantle of white, suggesting mid-winter, but the dense green canopy shading my neighborhood’s streets tell another story.

As does the blinding sun and the garden and weeds in the back yard that require my immediate attention. But before I tend to my chores, I just have to write this post (a familiar refrain to many bloggers).

As I type this, my bare feet are surrounded by at least 20 books. I’m sure y’all have this problem too. When I check them out I’m always hopeful that I’ll get around to all of them before they’re due back to the library. It never happens.

But if I had to pick two that I’ll finish reading by the end of the summer, I’d say the first is Wendell Berry’s, The Unsettling of America. From the first paragraph of the first chapter I was hooked. That man knows how to drive home a point. What’s the book about? I don’t know yet, I’m only a few pages in, but I can tell you it’s a critique of American agribusiness the American culture at large. Even though it was written in 1977, it feels every bit as relevant as if it were written in 2007. I’m excited to finish this book.

Second, I’m going to revisit Barbara Kingsolver’s, High Tide in Tucson. It’s a collection of previously published essays and nature writing at its finest (I highly recommend Small Wonder too if you’re into that sort of thing). She’s what I read when I want to relax and be inspired. Ms. Kingsolver makes me love writing and she’s done more to inspire me–a person that doesn’t enjoy or has any talent in the area of writing, to give it try. So far, it’s been painful.

A third choice is up in the air. Like I said, I have 20ish books at my feet and a library card that I’m not afraid to use. Maybe you’ll inspire me with your picks.

What’s on your summer reading list?


13 responses to “Summer Reading List 2011

  1. missy. June 21, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    I liked Small Wonder better than High Tide in Tucson. I thought there were a couple of great essays in High Tide, but a lot of them didn’t really speak to me.

    My summer reading list is full of African literature and postcolonial theory/criticism. I went to the USU library last week and checked out 15 books that should hold me for a month or two. I started with a beautiful collection of Chris Abani’s poetry, and then read “The Thing Around Your Neck,” amazing short stories by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. And I have a bag full of Achebe, Gordimer and Coetzee still to go!

  2. mfranti June 21, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Missy, I agree, Small Wonder moved me in a way that High Tide isn’t. But I still enjoy it.

    I have a Abbey reader edited by Abbey that I’m enjoying, but I have to be in the right mood for him. I’m almost always in the mood for Kingsolver.

    You can read 15 books in a month and raise children and pay attention to your husband?

    There’s something wrong with me.

  3. Alliegator June 21, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    I don’t have a lot of time to read right now (because I waste too much time online), so I mostly just read whatever book club book we’re supposed to read, and then skim through the urban homestead manuals I have.

  4. mfranti June 21, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Missy, Alice,

    should we do like fMh and start a book club? I’m not sure if it’s lame or not. I’ll let others decide for me.

  5. missy. June 21, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    No, no, I don’t read 15 books in a month. There have been times in my life when I have, but now is not one of them. It ebbs and flows 🙂 When I get on a kick about a certain subject, though, my reading appetite becomes pretty insatiable, and right now I can’t get enough of postcolonial literature.

  6. SNeilsen June 21, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    I currently reading –Hard Road West: History and Geology along the Gold Rush Trail by Keith Heyer Meldahl
    Don’t know what else I’ll read except people will be murdered and spaceships will zap each other.

  7. nat kelly June 21, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    I can’t decide what to read in the next few months!!!

    I just started “Ain’t I a Woman?” by bell hooks. I can never decide if I want to go with a theme or not. The last several months, I’ve read a lot about imperialism and such, and while I’ve loved it, I think I’m ready for a change. Maybe some Marxist theory.

    I do have a pretty little collection of books on race stuff in the US. Slave narratives, MLK, etc. I also have lying around some biographies of cool ladies like Emma Goldman and Mother Jones.

    I think I want to get my hands on some good books about Latin American history – it’s the region that is most pulling my interest lately. But then again, I have a great memoir or two about Vietnam and Cambodia.

    And of course, I always have to read some nice fiction on the side. Dickens, Vonnegut, Orson Scott Card, Mark Twain, and Goethe are all hanging out in my Kindle. And I have a bit of a desire to lose myself in some cheesy mindless, bad fantasy writing.

    Oh geez. Now I feel like I don’t have time to do anything but sit and read all day every day! Not helpful for my productivity. Nor for my move.

  8. mfranti June 21, 2011 at 4:32 pm


    are you moving again?

  9. nat kelly June 21, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Yeah. Staying in Seattle, new neighborhood.

    I’ve really got to stop moving every year. It is not helping my whole inability-to-be-stable disorder.

  10. Aaron R. June 22, 2011 at 5:02 am

    I read Berry’s ‘Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community’ just a few months ago. I loved his prose alot and his ideas more. I need to get ‘What people are for’ and there is an essay Kristine Haglund keeps recommending that I need to read as well concerning how Church’s should be involved in politics.

  11. ashsanders June 22, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Oh no, I should NEVER have read this post. Last week I made a schedule for myself where for a brief and totally delusional moment, I thought, “Okay, if I wake up at 5 am every morning and then read until two, and then write until six, and then…” This from a non-morning person. Back to reality.

    Right now, I am compiling a reading list for a study group I am starting on the history and strategy of political movements. It is designed to get people to cast aside their conventional wisdoms and really think about what kinds of actions are necessary and what kinds of actions changed the world. You are all invited to the group. I’ll let you know when and where soon.

    In the meantime, here’s the list:

    –The Populist Moment, by Lawrence Goodwyn
    –Direct Action: an Ethnography, by David Graeber
    –Wobblies and Zapatistas, by Staughton Lynd and Andrej Grubacic
    –Deep Green Resistance, by Lierre Keith, Derrick Jensen and Aric McBay
    –Gramsci is Dead, by Richard J.F. Day
    –A People’s History of the American Revolution, by Ray Raphael
    –Failure of the Regulatory System and the Fight for the Rights of Nature, Mari Margil
    –Liberty’s Roots (Sherman Booth and the Wisconsin Abolition Movement) by Ben
    –Uses of a Whirlwind, by the Team Colors Collective
    –Food Rebellions, by Raj Patel, Eric Holt-Giminez and Annie Shattuck
    –Crack Capitalism, by John Holloway
    –We Are an Image from the Future, by Void Network, Tasos Sagris, and A.G. Schwartz
    –Flying Close to the Sun: My Life and Times as a Weatherman, by Cathy Wilkerson
    –I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle, by Charles M. Payne
    –Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement, and the Bombing That Divided Gilded Age America, by James Green
    –The Modern School Movement, by Paul Avrich
    –Assata: An Autobiography

    And more! Phew.

    I just finished “A People’s History of the American Revolution” and am halfway through “Deep Green Resistance” and “Direct Action.” All are very good. I ADORE “Direct Action.”

  12. ashsanders June 22, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Oh, and this fabulous online resource:

    History of Corporate Rule and Democracy, compiled by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

    Also, I am one hundred percent interested in starting a book group. Let the reading begin!

  13. Kate June 23, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Neil and I would be up for a book club.

    My list is, as always, a little eclectic:

    A Language Older Than Words- Derrick Jensen
    The New Jim Crow- Michelle Alexander
    Ethical Ambition- Derrick Bell
    The Sexual Politics of Meat- Carol J. Adams
    The Macho Paradox- Jackson Katz
    Harvest of Empire- Juan Gonzalez
    A People’s History of the United States- Howard Zinn
    Approaching Zion- Hugh Nibley
    The Stars Look Down- A. J. Cronin (1935)
    Resurrection- Tolstoy
    Three Against Hitler (Helmuth Huebener) -Rudi Wobbe
    A Vindication of the Rights of Woman- Mary Wollstonecraft (1792)
    Pedagogy of the Oppressed- Paulo Freire

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