Happy longest day of the year! In light (pun intended) of the summer solstice today, we thought we’d share some of our favorite reads and listens for the summer ahead. Please share your own recommendations in the comments!
Ann Griffin, Electronic Resources Coordinator
Reading: Lab Girl by Hope Jahren.
This is an award winning autobiography about a successful female geobiologist. Dr. Jahren has received three Fulbrights among other awards and has worked hard to overcome her bipolar disorder.
Also reading: The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben.
This is fascinating material about written for and by a layperson. Apparently, flora and fauna both are both sentient – so be nice to your plants.
Also reading: The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World by Andrea Wulf.
The biography of a visionary nineteenth century German naturalist and explorer who expanded science’s understanding of the nature of Nature. His big insight was that the Earth is one interconnected ecosystem.
Cindy Fisher, Library Technology Consultant
Listening to: Gravy from the Southern Foodways Alliance
From chili powder to tobacco, fish camps to falafel, the Gravy podcast explores the diversity of southern food culture; I listened to episodes on a road trip from New Jersey to Texas and it was a perfect way to learn about the culinary traditions of those inhabiting the landscapes I was driving through. If you love food, you’ll love this podcast!
Reading: Swing Time by Zadie Smith
A beautifully crafted novel that explores identity and friendship in modern day England and West Africa where dance and rhythm provokes both nostalgia and self-exploration. Jazz, dub reggae and Michael Jackson fade in and out as this novel’s soundtrack. A perfect summer read that will make you want to simultaneously get up and dance and reconnect with an old friend.
Kate Reagor, Resource Sharing Support Specialist
Listening to: Rabbits from the Public Radio Alliance
Podcasts have been instrumental in bringing back the serialized radio drama, and the studio who released two of my favorites – The Black Tapes, and Tanis – recently came out with a great new docu-drama called Rabbits. Imagine a story that incorporates elements of Ready Player One, Twin Peaks, and Pokémon Go, presented in an NPR-esque radio documentary format. The official description reads: “When Carly Parker’s friend goes missing under mysterious circumstances after playing a mysterious game known only as Rabbits, she begins to suspect that this is much more than just a game, and that the key to understanding Rabbits might be the key to the survival of our species, and the Universe, as we know it.”
Kyla Hunt, Library Management Consultant
Listening to: In the Heights Original Broadway Cast Recording
I have described this as a soap opera to music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, which makes it an automatic win in my book. Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first Tony Award winning musical, this soundtrack is upbeat and catchy, a perfect album to listen to while working.
Reading: Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson
Child actress Mara Wilson (from Mrs. Doubtfire and Matilda) writes witty and eloquent essays about growing up and out of the spotlight, struggling with OCD, and finding her voice as a speaker and a writer. I have followed Mara Wilson on social media for quite a while, and found her book of essays as entertaining as I had hoped.
Jennifer Peters, Community Engagement Administrator
Listening to: You Must Remember This podcast
Dedicated to “exploring the secret and/or forgotten history of Hollywood’s first century,” this well-researched podcast is a must for classic movie buffs. Karina Longworth’s most recent series, “Dead Blondes,” focuses on the Hollywood actresses who defined, and were later defined by, the blonde stereotype in films. She has a number of other great series, including my favorite, “Six Degrees of Joan Crawford,” and others on the Hollywood Blacklist, Hollywood during World War II, and the Manson murders.
Reading: The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
Two short, seminal essays. What Baldwin says about race in America is as relevant now as it was when originally published in the early ‘60s.
Also reading: The World’s Largest Man: A Memoir, by Harrison Scott Key
This memoir about a shy, bookish boy growing up in rural Mississippi with a boisterous outdoorsman for a father made me burst out laughing on an airplane. The embarrassment was worth it.
Russlene Waukechon, TexShare E-Resources Coordinator
Listening to: Classic 70s music
It was 1972 and this was the #1 hit song that summer. No other song before or since has ever evoked Summer as much as Seals and Crofts Summer Breeze. “…See the curtains hangin’ in the window, in the evenin’ on a Friday night
A little light a-shinin’ through the window, lets me know everything is alright”…