Thanks to the almost 1,000 Nation readers who took the time to send us their summer reading choices. We’re reading each submission carefully and getting great tips in the process. This is our first Nation Reader’s Summer Reading List. Watch this space for future editions coming soon.
Janet Hart, San Carlos, CA
Rising Tide by John M. Barry
Just finished Rising Tide by John M. Barry about the Mississippi Flood of 1927. A very readable and engaging book about the origins of man’s attempt to tame the Mississippi River. Includes fascinating political, scientific, and social background.
Rob Hunsicker, Baton Rouge, LA
Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
I’m reading Caves of Steel as the last leg of an Asimov tour that I started a while ago. I had intended for this last book to be sort of a diversion but thematically, it’s more relevant to present-day America than anything else I’ve read by Asimov. The central tension comes from humans losing jobs to robots while food and other resources become increasingly scarce. What’s more, the crowded mass of humanity fears and resents an elite group of humans who live above the fray by employing sophisticated technology to solve all their society’s ills, while making human labor largely irrelevant. So much for light diversion!
Ciara Kehoe, Philadelphia, PA
Are Prisons Obselete? by Angela Davis
The prison-industrial complex is one of my serious concerns, as it perpetuates and constantly reconstitutes institutional racism. Davis links prisons to the Black Codes that followed Emancipation — codes of law specific to blacks that made it almost impossible to live a normal existence without violating the law.
Jesus Madrigal, Berkeley, CA
Critique of Economic Reason by André Gorz
As relevant today as when it was published in 1989. Even setting aside his utopian solutions, his analysis of late capitalism in its creation of a large body of workers who, due to the advanced efficiency of production, are no longer needed, is enlightening for our current situation: the expansion of temporary employment agencies, high unemployment, and the death of unions
Charles Witt, Austin, Texas
A Brief History of the Late Ottoman Empire by M. Sukru Hanioglu
The study of Empire doesn’t get any better than this; from rise to fall the Ottoman Sultans’ military and political grip on much of the known world eerily parallels our own United States.
Dennis O’Flaherty, Tucson, AZ
A Moment In The Sun by John Sayles
I’m reading John Sayles’ A Moment In the Sun, after seeing the well-deserved glowing review on the front page of the New York Times Sunday Book Review a few weeks ago. If any piece of recent writing merits praise both for its literary quality and for its status as a rare-as-hen’s-teeth example of progressive literature, this is surely it.
Carol Berney, Stratford, Ontario
The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World by Wade Davis
Absolutely enthralling and educational – I’m keeping a world atlas and a dictionary close at hand. Included is an extensive annotated bibliography – more reading for years to come.
Candice Lanette, Langhorne, PA
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver
I can’t put down Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. A friend from work let me borrow it. I haven’t been able to read a book from cover to cover for some time now and really found myself getting bummed out about it. What a blessing to have been handed this book. It is an amazing collection of short stories for the literary lover of any sort!
Kathleen Rippey, Willits, CA
New Atlantis: Musicians Battle for the Survival of New Orleans by John Swenson
An excellent and well-written book about how the musicians and culture of the area continue to struggle to survive the effects of the Federal flood of 2005, the BP oil spill of 2010 and the ongoing corruption and apathy in the "City that care forgot." A great companion read if you’re a fan of the HBO series, Treme.