Summertime, and the livin’s easy…the asphalt’s melting, and sunstroke is nigh…
The summer is a good time for reading, because if you’re outside in the Alabama heat you’re going to boil in your own sweat. Seriously, this is not a good time to visit us. If you have a hankering to see the Deep South, wait until October. It’ll still be warm, but you can go outside without drawing up a will. In the summer time I venture outside ever so briefly in the mornings, then hide inside for most of the day listening to the air conditioner spend money. Inside it’s a time for reading, and this summer I have quite a few books waiting to be devoured..
1. Gulp, Mary Roach
I love Mary Roach. You have to have a good sense of humor to carry a surname like Roach, and boy does she ever have one — and she combines it with popular science writing to produce fascinating books with names like Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex and Stiff: the Curious Lifes of Human Cadavers.
2. An Edible History of Humanity, Tom Standage
Last summer I read A History of the World in Six Glasses, which looked at agriculture through beer, mercantilism through tea, and industrial consumerism through Coca-Cola, among others. Definitely light history, but I’m looking forward to this, which I assume takes a similar tack. Related is Michael Pollan’s Cooked, which I am definitely interested in. I don’t know if my library will acquire it, though, so it may be a while before I pick up a used copy.
3.Starship Troopers, Robert Heinlein
I’ve yet to read Heinlein, and this is supposedly his most controversial work, mixing SF with political philosophy.
4. Independence Day celebratory set
Each year it is my custom to honor the Fourth of July with a reading touching the American Revolution. This year I’m planning to tackle a biography of Alexander Hamilton (by Rob Chernow) to start off with.
5. Bastille Day tribute
The French revolution transformed a continent and the world, and it’s worth commemorating for the glory of “La Marseillaise” alone. I like to explore French culture in general around July 14th, and last year I got a bit carried away by it. I had Edith Piaf singing in my head clear into November, I’ll tell you. I don’t rightly know what I’ll be reading just yet: French Kids Eat Everything would be a way to build on Bringing up Bebe and French Women Don’t Get Fat, and I’ve heard good things about The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography.
7. Satisfaction Guaranteed: The Making of the American Mass Market by Susan Strasser
Susan Strasser’s a fantastic social historian of America, and I’ve been anticipating this one for a while. I may read it in the same week as I finally read Affluenza: the All-Consuming Epidemic, but that may be a bit much. Oh, and then there’s Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole…
…hm. Reading three books on consumerism seems problematic. But one is history, one is more philosophical, and the other is more political, so…I have to read all three, just to get the whole picture. maybe I should throw in Hooked: Buddhist Writings on Greed, Desire, and the Urge to Consume, too. That would…round things out nicely.
Once I’ve read all four I won’t be as much a consumer afterward, I promise!
8. Hannah Coulter or A Place on Earth, Wendell Berry
I’m not particular as to which, but I just finished Jayber Crow and found it to be one of the most intensely moving novels I’ve ever read. There aren’t too many other books I’d put in the same neighborhood — Big Rock Candy Mountain and Once an Eagle, maybe — but I definitely want to read more Berry.
9. Your Inner Fish, Neil Shubin
I misplaced this one for a little bit, but it’s returned to me.
10. Lost Christianities, Bart Ehrman
Or something similar…it’s been a while since I did any religious history.