Crowdsourcing Your Summer Reading List(s)

Popular lore has it that professors spend summers on “vacation.” We spend these long lazy months lounging on tropical beaches with umbrella’d drinks and lots of sunscreen. That, or we travel to mountains where we camp, hike, and commune with nature. We might travel foreign locales and experience all the world has to offer.

For most of us, images of professors lounging on a beach, taking extended hikes, or traveling the world over—or having the time to do these things—are laughable. We typically spend the summer spending time with family, working, writing, planning for fall classes, researching. The work never seems to stop. However, over a summer—or an extended span of time—we do have a little more control over how we spend that time.

Reading for pleasure over a summer is an activity that we can plan now . . . so we have the books on hand when we have a lull in our schedules. The books can be hardback, paperback, Kindle, Nook, e-reader forms. The point is that we have them available to us. Of course, we can choose our own books, but crowdsourcing your reading lists can bring about many new types of books.

Recently, fellow ProfHacker Brian Croxall recommended that I check out Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. I bought a copy, mentioned the purchase on Twitter, and many on my Twitter stream chimed in about the wonder of the book. A flip through the book and I’m struck by the visual similarities between it and Derrida’s Glas. Then I’m reminded of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass: The First (1855) Edition. Just with the one purchase (and a couple of mental associations), I have the start of a summer reading list.

For fun, I might reread Patti Smith’s Just Kids (because I loved this book so much). I’m interested in memoir, so I’ll read Michele Norris’s The Grace of Silence: A Memoir. I might also include books I haven’t yet had time to read (that are research related), Isabel Wilkerson’s  The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration; Karl Marlantes’, Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War; Tim Barnwell’s work on Appalachia, The Face of Appalachia: Portraits from the Mountain Farm and On Earth’s Furrowed Brow: The Appalachian Farm in Photographs.  My reading list is shaping up nicely.

But how about you? What are your reading plans for summer?  What is the one book that you’ll read while on beach this summer?  What might you recommend to other ProfHacker readers? Please leave comments and suggestions below.

[Image by Flickr user David Goehring and used under the Creative Commons license.]

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