It wouldn’t be possible to publish The Nation without the critical help of our peerless interns. Their energy, passion, ideas and engagement are reflected in print each week and virtually hourly at thenation.com. We also rely on our interns to tell us what’s hip, what music we should be listening to, and what hot new authors we should be considering. Now, we’re sharing the knowledge by asking our interns to tell us what they’re reading this summer and why.
Natasja Sheriff, Carnforth (Lancashire, UK)
The Stone Raft by José Saramago
I’m reading The Stone Raft by José Saramago. I’m enjoying the absurdity of the story (the Iberian Peninsular breaks away from the European continent) and the lyricism of the prose, both of which are very reminiscent of Latin American magical realism.
Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, Ridgewood, NY
Working in the Shadows by Gabriel Thompson
I’m reading Gabriel Thompson’s Working in the Shadows. Thompson spends a year working alongside immigrants in a lettuce field, a poultry plant, and a Manhattan restaurant in order to understand what’s at stake when we talk about immigration reform at the level of labor. It’s a really solid book with an endlessly engaging narrative. Because I’m sympathetic to the issue at hand, I’m not surprised to find myself responding viscerally to some of the passages, but I often imagine a different kind of reader–someone against reform, who is perhaps prepared to respond viscerally in a wholly different way–responding in kind because Thompson presents politics as a matter of basic human decency.
Sahiba Gill, Canton, Ohio
The Age of Revolution: Europe 1789-1848 by Eric Hobsbawm
I’m reading Eric Hobsbawm’s The Age of Revolution: Europe 1789-1848. For anyone puzzling over what governments and societies will emerge from the Arab Spring, this sweeping 1962 account of the transformation of the West through the French and Industrial revolutions is a reminder that it was economic and societal shifts – not barricades and pamphlets (the precursors to Twitter and Facebook) that produced democracy as we recognize it today.
Carmen Garcia, Vista, CA
2666 by Roberto Bolaño
I’m reading 2666, by Roberto Bolaño. It’s intriguing and fabulously unsettling.
Britney Wilson, Brooklyn, NY
Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
I’m reading Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable. I honestly can’t say whether I like it or not, but I appreciate Marable’s attempt to delve deeper than the legend of Malcolm X in order to discover who he was and what he was about from a somewhat more objective angle. I’m very interested in African-American history and social movements, and Malcolm X is definitely an important figure to me, so I find the book interesting and informative, not just because of the information it provides, about Malcolm, but also because of the information it provides about African-American and American history in general.
Anna Lekas Miller, Bay Area, California
Intern Nation: How To Earn Northing and Learn Little in this Brave New Universe by Ross Perlin
A Quiet Revolution: The First Palestinian Intifada and Nonviolent Resistance by Mary Elizabeth King
I just finished Ross Perlin’s Intern Nation: How To Earn Nothing and Learn Little in this Brave New Universe which makes me shake my head at unpaid internship culture –and be grateful that I’m at The Nation. I’m moving on to A Quiet Revolution: The First Palestinian Intifada and Nonviolent Resistance to get into the spirit for Flotilla 2!
Marc Kilstein, Pennington, NJ
The Big Short by Michael Lewis
An important, well-written, and accessible behind-the-scenes look at the financial crisis. While Lewis’ compelling tale provides great insight into the causes of the crisis, perhaps the book’s greatest strength is its thriller-esque presentation.
Zachary Newkirk, Gainesville, Florida
So Damn Much Money by Robert Kaiser
Earmarks, lobbying and exorbitant campaign donations are a regular part of campaigning and governing today. But up until the late 1970s they were rare and almost unheard of until idealists-turned-lobbyists Gerald Cassidy and Kenneth Schlossberg came along and earmarks became a regular part of appropriations, indeed of modern American governing. Robert Kaiser’s entertaining and readable portrayal of Gerry Cassidy’s rise to one of Washington’s top lobbyists sheds light on the largely secret world of lobbying and offers new light and insight on how money truly runs Washington.
Shelby Kinney, Laramie, WY
Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror by John Ashbery
John Ashbery’s Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror is a book of poems as enjoyable as it is mystifying. Ashbery reveals nothing. His syntax often abruptly reconsiders itself. He truncates time in the name of metaphysics while dragging you into a world where body precedes soul. I’ve been re-reading the title poem like a mantra, though the "meaning of the music" might be that there isn’t any at all.
Kevin Donohoe, North Hampton, New Hampshire
Political Fictions by Joan Didion
In a series of probing essays, Didion shows how a small political class obsessed with "the process" and suburban, white voters have made our politics narrow and shallow — and discouraged millions of Americans from voting. Though much has changed since Political Fictions was originally published more than a decade ago, one of Didion’s arguments — that politics is driven by the stories the Washington elite invents about itself — remains hauntingly true today.
We love this list, but we really want to know what you’re reading! Where better to turn for book suggestions than Nation readers, whom surveys tell us read, on average, one new book a week! We’re hoping to tap this collective literacy and publish a recommended reading list of reader selections. So, whether it’s light beach reading or dystopian sci-fi more appropriate for a penniless staycation, please tell us what you’re reading this summer.