I always loved books, but I had much less time to appreciate them in college and while working in Somerville. By taking the summer off, I freed up a lot of time for reading. Some has been purely for entertainment, but I’ve also learned a lot from books, articles, and magazines this summer.
It’s hard to tell if novels just seem better because I have long uninterrupted sessions to spend with them, or if I’ve hit the jackpot and picked a great string of books to enjoy. The following titles come highly recommended (if the story sounds interesting to you, that is): Shadow of the Wind; Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl, City of Thieves, 1Q84, and The Wind Up Bird Chronicle.
I thought Michelle Obama’s American Grown did a great job of justifying the need for a continued surge in school gardens to unite communities, reconnect Americans with where food comes from, and increase physical activity. The recipes, growing tips, and photos sprinkled throughout the book turned it into a beautiful and practical resource for school and community gardeners.
In a recent New York Times Opinionator, Tim Kreider articulates many of the reasons I’ve chosen to move to Vermont and take the summer off. His The ‘Busy’ Trap article explores the culture of busyness that I felt overwhelmed by in the city. As I planned my move, I felt like I was aware of a secret that others didn’t realize yet – one doesn’t always have to be busy to be a good staff member, a good friend, and a good citizen.
As Kreider writes, “The present hysteria is not a necessary or inevitable condition of life; it’s something we’ve chosen, if only by our acquiescence to it….Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.” This sentiment has proven to be true for me as I find clarity and energy while recharging this summer. I know not many people are lucky enough to be able to retreat to such a beautiful place. However, many friends who respond “Busy!” when asked “How are you?” do choose (and are overwhelmed by) their pace of life.
I’m currently making my way through the most recent Orion Magazine. In it’s 30th year, the magazine is still producing incredibly well written pieces indended to create a philosophy of nature. As the editorial explains, “When our philosophy of how to live helps us imagine a future worth having, we find the personal and cultural resolve to do what we know is morally correct.” I love how the magazine tells individuals’ stories that always seem to build on each other to offer concrete and informed opinions about how to move forward in our world in a more resilient way. Given my recent work in urban agriculture, it is no surprise that one of my favorite articles was Revolutionary Plots. The line following the title sums up the article: “Urban agriculture is producing a lot more than food.” Covering rural/urban divides, youth development, hunger, education, and community connections – this article tells a great story and definitely worth reading!
I’ve happily consumed many of the books on the top of my “to read” list, so new suggestions are welcome! I’d love to hear what books, articles, or magazines you’ve loved this summer.