5 Must-Read Books for Summer

Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul’s School by Shamus Rahman Khan

Columbia’s Shamus Rahman Khan revisits one of the nation’s most prestigous private schools 10 years after his own graduation to examine the social, economic privileges that are provided to the crème de la crème (i.e., the offspring of elite parents). Khan wants to know why wealthy students are far more likely than low-income students to attend top institutions. Or for that matter, why Harvard considers families in the top 5% of the economic scale to be “middle income.” How is our academic system implicated in the reproduction of social inequalities?

The Woman I Kept to Myself by Julia Alvarez

Most of you probably know this the award-winning author from her bestselling novels How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents and In the Time of the Butterflies. In this collection of poetry (recently re-released by Algonquin Books), Alvarez traverses her life as a writer and as a “Dominican, hyphen, American” through 75, tightly-structured autobiographical poems. I’d love to teach poems like “My Kind of Woman” and “Canon” in which Alvarez re-tells biblical narratives and explores the limits of genre and canon.

Hey, Shorty!: A Guide to Combatting Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools and on the Streets by Joanne Smith, Meghan Huppuch, Mandy Van Deven and Girls for Gender Equity

From the Feminist Press at CUNY:

Girls for Gender Equity, a nonprofit organization based in New York City, has developed a model for teens to teach one another about sexual harassment. How do you define it? How does it affect your self-esteem? What do you do in response? Why is it so normalized in schools, and how can we as a society begin to address these causes? Geared toward students, parents, teachers, policy makers, and activists, this book is an excellent model for building awareness and creating change in any community.

Bossypants by Tina Fey

The New York Times calls Bossypants “a spiky blend of humor, introspection, critical thinking and Nora Ephron-isms for a new generation.” Yes, please. I admire Fey, the sarcastic, whip-smart comedian, actress and 30 Rock producer and I suspect that her latest non-memoir memoir will provide a necessary reprieve from the hustle of summer coursework.

Raising Elijah: Protecting Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis by Sandra Steingrabe

Eco-biologist, cancer survivor and mother of two Sandra Steingrabe explores  how things like poor air quality, hydraulic fracturing and poisonous chemicals affect children and their families. Kirkus Reviews calls this new educational treatise/memoir/guidebook “an artful commingling of life with children, environmental mayhem and political-science primer.” Publishers Weekly describes the book as “a persuasive, personal call to action.”

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One Response to 5 Must-Read Books for Summer

  1. Thanks so much for including Hey, Shorty! on this list of must reads!

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