Summer Reading

Hello! Sorry for missing the Friday Five last week. I’m in the middle of a multi-step move. I just relocated to a new apartment in the Boston area, but am now packing again to move to the Midwest for the summer to be closer to friends and family. I’ll be back in Boston again in the fall to teach another year at the college where they were able to extend my one-year contract into a two-year contract. In addition to the two moves, I also have a wedding in Florida and a Midwest road trip, so things may be a bit spotty on here for a while. That said, the sense of grounding and routine I get from the blog may actually help balance the lack of routine I experience over the next few weeks, so maybe I’ll end up making time for it as a form of self-care. We’ll see!

One thing I definitely plan to make time for over the summer is more pleasure reading. I have a list started, but I always love to get recommendations from readers, so please feel free to comment with anything you’ve read and loved lately!


The Secret History

Two of my best girlfriends raved about The Secret History, so I’m adding it to the top of the list. Wikipedia describes this campus-set murder mystery as “an inverted detective story, not a Whodunit, but a Whydunit?”



An Untamed State

I admire Roxanne Gay’s feminist essays and I’ve heard great things about her fiction. Her new book, An Untamed State, has been getting rave reviews. It sounds heavy–the plot focuses on a Haitian-American woman who is kidnapped by a gang in Haiti–but I’m so excited to read it.



Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them

As the title suggests, this is a collection of stories about people’s tattoos. The introduction is written by (my favorite) Cheryl Strayed. I have eight tattoos and I wouldn’t change a single one of them. I adore how each one reminds me vividly of who I was (and where I was, and who I loved, and what I was listening to, and how I thought, etc…) at the time I got them. I look forward to reading other people’s stories!



Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

I’ve been wanting to read this Jeanette Winterson memoir since it was released. I honestly didn’t know if I was in a place in my life where I could handle it when it came out, though. I wasn’t very happy, but I wasn’t ready to confront truths that were going to help me be happier. Anyway, I’m ready for this book now. (And if you haven’t read Winterson’s Written on the Body, please add it to your list, posthaste!).




The Artist’s Way

I know some people who swear by this book, subtitled “a spiritual path to higher creativity.”  As someone who used to fancy herself a (creative) writer and musician, I am looking forward to tapping into the creative bones in my body that academia has muffled.




Of course, my pleasure reading is always coupled with academic reading. I’m working on some exciting projects this summer and I look forward to reading books and articles that push me to ground my thoughts more rigorously. But it’s also really nice to not have to read one page of a book three times to fully understand it, you know?


What are you going to/have you read this summer? I’m noticing the two fiction books I have listed are pretty dark, so if you have any lighter suggestions, I’d love to hear them! I’m also super open to poetry suggestions! And self-helpy stuff as long as it’s not something I’m going to roll my eyes at a ton. 


10 thoughts on “Summer Reading

  1. Jess says:

    I loved a Secret History. I’ve been wanting to read Donna Tartt’s newest book but am sort of “saving” it for when I have more time/attention to devote to it.

    I actually forgot Jeanette Winterson had a memoir out. Thank you for reminding me to get Written on the Body from the library—it’s been on my list a while since reading some of her stuff last year.

    Last month I read Sarah Cornwell’s What I Had Before I Had You in, like, two days. I tried to pace myself but no luck.

  2. FoodFeud says:

    Gosh, I work in a bookstore, so my to-read list is always miles long. I try to always have one poetry book going. I used to read a lot more fiction than I do now…most recently I bought a copy of Claire messud’s The Woman Upstairs, which a friend recommended. Non-fiction-wise I am excited to read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird (which maybe you also would be interested in?/have already read) and Simone de Beauvoir’s The Ethics of Ambiguity.
    Did you read the Goldfinch? Also Donna Tartt, also got great reviews. Jeanette Winterson has always been on my list but I’m sorry to say I haven’t gotten to Written on the Body yet!
    I wish I had more time to read, but it sounds like you are even busier than I am! Be well!

    • raechel says:

      One of my dissertation committee members recommended Bird by Bird to all her grad students. So much good stuff in there! I haven’t read Goldfinch, but I know people loved it. I like to have a poetry book going too. Oh, and always good to read Simone de Beauvoir!

  3. lacy j davis says:

    I am reading “I love Dick” by Chris Krauss, “The Mermaid of Chelsea Creek” by Michelle Tea, and “Girls I’ve Run Away With” by Rhiannon Argo all for FUN. SUMMERRRRRR.

    For learning I am reading “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole and “Appetites” by Caroline Knapp. YES.

    • raechel says:

      How do even your book recommendations make me feel like we’re grrrlsoulmates? Already read the Michelle Tea book but adding the rest to my list. xo

  4. Katie says:

    Late to the “Eating Animals” party, but just now reading it and loving it. I’m assuming you’ve read it already?? Recently finished “What Should I Do With My Life” by Po Bronson, which was the highlight of my day for the 2-3 weeks it took me to read it. This was a book I immediately recommended to everyone..not sure if anyone will read it. If you read it, let me know what you think.

    The Winterson and Knapp books look intriguing! Will have to check them out.

    • raechel says:

      I actually haven’t read Eating Animals! I sort of didn’t prioritize it because I was already on the vegan train, but I know I should still read it. I just looked up the Po Bronson book and it actually seems like something I want to recommend to my mom who is back in school trying to figure out that question. Thanks for the recs!

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