Summer Reading List

Hi, gang. I’m unhappy to report that I’m fighting a really nasty summer cold. I was sick during my travels (totally the worst!), and am still fighting it off today (couch-ridden on a sunny day. le sigh.). So no recipes for you. Instead, I have a neat post about summer reads!

One of my favorite memories about my childhood summers involved the Summer Book Club at the local public library. My grandmother would take me almost every single day to stock up on books, and when I was young enough that the books were short, we’d get through giant stacks in an afternoon. We’d go back the next day, turn in our list of completed books, and the librarian would put stars to mark our progress on a big chart in the kid’s section. I don’t want to brag or anything, but I maybe won a couple of those summer contests for “Most Books Read.” nbd. ;)

I’m sad to say that being a grad student has changed my relationship to summer reading. After a school year of reading hundreds (and hundreds) of pages a day, the idea of  ‘break’ doesn’t necessarily involve more books. But that’s the other thing about academics summer “breaks”…we don’t really have a choice. We kind of have to keep working, especially when you’re at the stage of dissertating. You can’t write without reading!

Fortunately, I’ve promised myself that I would at least split my reading time between academic stuff and fun stuff. And “fun stuff,” for me, includes reading about health and food! (Finally, we arrive at the reason I’m posting this on a food blog!). Below is a short list of the books I plan to read this summer (and one that I’ve already started). I have two definites, and a list of possibilities. If you’re curious what fiction I’m reading, you can check out my list here, and if you’re curious about my academic texts for the summer, you can find that list here. And if you have recommendations, I’d love to hear them!

Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism

Julie Guthman (2011)

“Weighing In takes on the “obesity epidemic,” challenging many widely held assumptions about its causes and consequences. Julie Guthman examines fatness and its relationship to health outcomes to ask if our efforts to prevent “obesity” are sensible, efficacious, or ethical. She also focuses the lens of obesity on the broader food system to understand why we produce cheap, over-processed food, as well as why we eat it. Guthman takes issue with the currently touted remedy to obesity–promoting food that is local, organic, and farm fresh. While such fare may be tastier and grown in more ecologically sustainable ways, this approach can also reinforce class and race inequalities and neglect other possible explanations for the rise in obesity, including environmental toxins. Arguing that ours is a political economy of bulimia–one that promotes consumption while also insisting upon thinness–Guthman offers a complex analysis of our entire economic system.” (

Critique of our approach to fat bodies and a critique of capitalism and a discussion of how the health food movement impacts race and class?!?! Right up my alley. Can’t wait to read this.

Journey Into Power: How to Sculpt Your Ideal Body, Free Your True Self, and Transform Your Life with Yoga

Baron Baptiste (2003)

This book is required reading for my Corepower Yoga Teacher Training Program. I started it last week, and am trying to turn off my critical grad student brain as I read it. As I’ve previously explained, my relationship to the world of health and wellness is a bit fraught, since so much of what comes out of this industry reinforces problematic beliefs about individualism and “bootstrapism” (which is why it was not at all surprising that Lululemon hearts Ayn Rand). There are elements of this in the book–for example, Baptiste tells the story of a rich man for whom he provided yoga lessons, who came from nothing but grew up to make ‘the big bucks.’ Baptiste asks how this man accomplished such a feat after having come from poverty. The man tells him it was “80% attitude.” Mind over matter, manifest your way to abundance, blah blah. All of this ignores the reality of structural racism, classism, sexism, etc. (He doesn’t say, but I’m guessing this was a cisgender white guy, important facts that put him at an advantage.) A few token examples of Horatio Alger stories—-even if they made their way to the top via yoga instead of more ruthless means—-do nothing to challenge a system that creates economic injustice in the first place.

Wow, that was a rant, I’m sorry. The point is, there are things in this book I just have to let go. Because most of the book, I’m enjoying as a resource to better enhance my practice. So far, Baptiste has already planted things in my brain that I’ve used on the mat. Things that remind me why I go to my “edge” in a pose. Things that remind me to turn off my ego in a yoga class. Things that make me feel like I’m not crazy for not having achieved a totally stress-free life after only a couple years of serious yoga practice. So for all of that, I’m enjoying it, and I am very much looking forward to discussing it more in class!

Other Possibilities:

Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life   Tich Naht Hanh

Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System  Raj Patel

Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development  Vandana Shiva


What are YOU reading this summer?

6 thoughts on “Summer Reading List

  1. Lachrista says:

    That’s interesting that CPY requires you to read that book. For my CPY TT, we had to read Judith Lasater’s, “Living Your Yoga” (which is really really good), and Darren Main’s, “Yoga and The Path of the Urban Mystic”–which I didn’t like that much. Let me know what else you think of the Baptiste book when you’re done!

    • raechel says:

      Interesting, I would have assumed they would have had a standard curriculum. I’ll put the Lasater book on my list. : )

  2. absolutely ayurveda says:

    I also have Stuffed and Starved on my reading list this summer! I would highly recommend “Food Movements Unite!” if you haven’t read it already and also “Yoga for your Type: An Ayurvedic Approach to your Asana Practice”. It is a great resource for understanding more about how each person has postures, modifications, and even times of day for asana that are best for their body type and their own practice.

    • raechel says:

      FMU was on my radar, so I’ll add that to the list per your recommendation! And the Yoga for Your Type sounds excellent too! Thanks! : )

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