Meandering List of Summer Must Reads


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Alian Class of '21 Alumni
Authored on June 15, 2020


During the semester I don’t have as much time to read as I would like, so summer break seems like the perfect opportunity to catch up!

It might be bad to admit but I often break reading “protocol” & jump around between books based on my mood. If you’re looking for something to do but don’t want to commit tons of time, you can always test out a chapter (or two!). I’ve compiled some of the books I’m currently reading and some of my past favorites into what I’m calling:

My Meandering Summer List of Maybe Must Reads

If you're looking for Spooky: 

Sealed   by  Naomi Booth: This book ties together concepts of eco horror, motherhood, and powerlessness in a world where reactions to pollutants can cause different orifices of the body to seal up. While it wasn’t my favorite story, Sealed did prompt me to think more about the environmental hazards facing us everyday and the implicit terror they have in many cases already created. 

Collected Poems of Ai : This collection of works by poet Ai is raw, tender, and at times violent as the poetry takes on the perspective of different killers. Many of the pieces in this work gave me me chills; I would read certain lines and goosebumps would appear on my arms. 

Feeling Melancholy: 

Edgar and Lucy   by Victor Lodato: Admittedly, I found this book slow at first. But then I started to appreciate the calm, quiet pace and the strange, hyper vivid universe I was pulled into. I also loved the author's play with color throughout: it's a book as visual as a painting.  

Wanting something Meditative: 

The Waves  by Virgina Woolf: This classic takes you through the same story from eight different perspectives, leading to a narrative experience like a woven basket. Events seem to repeat, the time line loops around, the scenery is flushed out from every angle. Tip I received in my poetry seminar this semester: Listen to it in audio book form (especially outdoors). I was skeptical at first, but one day I was so bored I tried it & I loved it. It's half meditation, half pastoral hypnotism.

In the Mood to Learn: 

The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality  by Branko Milanovic: Given current events, I know many people— including myself— are looking for resources to learn more. This book provides an overview of income inequality in many shorter vignettes. I thought the format made the content easy to digest and more memorable (plus it gave a trove of useful fun facts). This book was recommended to me by my roommate Hannah after she read it in a social studies class. 

How to Read Donald Duck  by Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelar: This work takes a subject near & dear to my heart — animation— and presents a case of how the medium can be used as capitalist propaganda. Especially coming from the United States, I was exposed to Disney as a very early age. This book prompted me to look back at the films I enjoyed during childhood and my relationship to their messaging. 

 Personal Faves: 

What is Work   by Philip Levine: This is another poetry recommendation and equally emotion-filled as the first.

Levine's poems ring with quiet rage at inequality and the plight of the working class: rage at the construction of "work" itself.

At the same time the voice never feels didactic, instead overwhelming the reader with the weight of tremendous personal detail and grief. The impact of these poems caught me off guard.

In Extremis: The Life and Death of the War Correspondent Marie Colvin  by Lindsey Hilsum: I thought this autobiography provided a captivating portrayal of Marie Colvin’s tenacity, spirit, and bold nature, as well as how these qualities pushed her into dangerous spaces. As someone who is unfamiliar with the world of journalism, I also though this book provided an interesting perspective of the transition from pre-internet to post-internet journalism. 

Testo Junkie  by Paul B. Preciado: I read this book last summer and I still think about it now. It presented such a moving combination of theory, bodily experience, and argument against injustice. I read it all in one sitting— it moves fast and is near impossible to put down. 


Alian Class of '21 Alumni

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