{Summer reading post} The Books In My Bag

I don't know about you but as summer approaches, I think of beach reads.

In a few weeks I'm headed to Duck, on the Outer Banks, here in North Carolina. A place at the beach with a weathered plastic lounger that has my name on it. I'll be sitting in front of a glassy blue Atlantic, breathing deeply with a book on my damp chest.

But not just any book.

Photo credit Lennart Heim via Unsplash

Photo credit Lennart Heim via Unsplash

My beach go-to's aren't Harlequin romances. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) They are the free weights of reading. Books that merit more attention than my typical 30 minutes before bed. Pieces I want to dive into, take notes on and mull over.

Here are a few of those weighty reads in case you're like-minded:

  1. Wake Up Little Susie: Single Pregnancy and Race before Roe v Wade by Rickie Solinger

I first saw Wake Up referenced in Ann Fessler's incredible book, The Girls Who Went Away.

Solinger looks at how race impacted the paths of young girls and women who became pregnant in the decades before Roe v. Wade. It's a different sort of race story from the 40s-60s but one that also tells the story of how we see mothers in America. One Amazon reviewer says,

"The biggest crime against the innocent Mother&Child Dyad ever to have happened across the Western World. And still no justice for the victims who were targeted while pregnant, rounded up, held inside institutions without benefit of charge or sentencing much less legal representation. This was a Holocaust, an extermination of young Motherhood, a crime against humanity and it seems no one give a damn."

2. How To Do Nothing: Resisting The Attention Economy by Jenny Odell

So many of my must-read's come from The New Yorker. When I think about the annual cost, I wince. Then I remember the cartoons, amazing reading recommendations I never see anywhere else and the unusual perspectives on issues (see below) no one else takes. I re-up every year.

Odell's book was referenced in the New Yorker earlier this year. I immediately added it to my Durham County Library queue. Sadly, as of this writing I'm still waiting. But I don't leave for a few more weeks. There's hope, right? Better be because this looks like a damn good beach read. A how-to on doing nothing? Yes, please.

3. Peyton Place by Grace Metalious

Metalious was only 32 when Peyton Place, her deep inside look at a small England town, was published in 1956. A buttoned up town that she unbuttons, PP looks at abortion (pre Roe v Wade!) incest, domestic violence, single parenthood and alcoholism, all at a time when family was one of our highest social values. And problems inside that family were never mentioned. PP remains the 4th best-selling novel of all time. PP is the only fiction on my list and I sure hope it doesn't disappoint. If you're intrigued, check out this article on Metalious and PP from Vanity Fair.

4. Rage Becomes Her by Soraya Chemaly

Rage is one of handful of books that came out in 2018 looking at anger and women. Clearly there's something in the water. I chose Chemaly's for three reasons:

  • She's older. Sometimes when I read authors who are a lot younger I feel really old. Like what they are saying is something I experienced years ago. It doesn't resonate, it feels dated.

  • Twitter. I always like what Chemaly Tweets about, what she shares and what she seems to wonder about.

  • Non-white perspective. How do the non-white women experience and think about the things I am dealing with? That's what I want to know.

Full disclosure: I started Rage in late December and am not yet done. It's SO good! I read a few pages, think about what Chemaly is saying and how much it resonates with me. I put the book down. And come back to it a few weeks later. I'm underlining like a maniac, jotting down notes to Tweet and share on social media. When the beach beckons, I will be ready with Rage.

What are you reading this summer? Leave me a recommendation below.