#Summerreads (2018)

It’s that time again when we look towards the end of the school year and seek inspiration for books to read during the summer break. Last year I shared my #summerreads list and here’s this years update. These are the books that I will be reading and they are intentionally diverse. After all, a man can’t live on a diet of Daniel Pink and Malcolm Gladwell alone. Some of these books I’ll read for pleasure, some for personal and professional development, and hopefully some will fulfill both of those categories. At the end of the blog post I share some book list suggestions from other educators and bloggers. There WILL be something in this blog post for everybody.

download-2For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood. and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education. While my students might not look like those of TED presenter, Christopher Emdin they live in the same world. I am certain that I will benefit from reading about his use of culturally relevant strategies like hip-hop music and call-and-response, and connecting the experiences of urban youth to indigenous populations globally. Besides, you have seen National Health Teacher of the Year and my fellow co-worker Andy Horne and his infamous Scholarly Raps right? As we aim to prepare our students to be global citizens it is important that I expose myself, and my students to Emdin’s Reality Pedagogy.

If you want to see Christopher Emdin in action, check out his 6 minute TED talk.

519mQUtDjYL._SX309_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgI discovered Seedfolks from this great book list from @NNSTOY which is not only the shortest and quickest read from my #summerreads list, but also the cheapest book at less than $4. Author Paul Fleischman introduces us to 13 narrators who tell the story of the founding and first year of a community garden in an immigrant neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio. A quick read with an inspirational message. I know that 2018 MAHPERD #HealthEd TOY Danielle Petrucci, the teacher with the hydroponic green fingers uses it in class – see this tweet.

After you read this book, check out the book club questions.

51DEXp35fkL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgBarracoon: The Story of the Last Black Cargo by Zora Neale Hurston. This book is all over my social media feed right now and I’m excited to check it out. It’s being described as a major literary event. Written in 1931 it “brilliantly illuminates the horror and injustices of slavery as it tells the true story of one of the last-known survivors of the Atlantic slave trade—abducted from Africa on the last “Black Cargo” ship to arrive in the United States”. This is the third book on my #summerreads list that can be considered social justice reading. If you are looking for more social justice titles check out my curated book list entitled  Michael Bennett’s Book Club.


People’s History of Sports in the United States: 250 Years of Politics, Protest, People, and Play. Combining two passions of mine, sports history and sports politics, I own this book and it has been staring down at me from a shelf for a few years now. Dave Zirin‘s podcast Edge of Sports is awesome and I’m determined to finish this book before starting on Things That Make White People Uncomfortable his latest book with Michael Bennett.


51e3nKKtT8L._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgIf you have seen this short (10 minutes) TED talk, then you’ll love Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by Adam Alter. We had a guest speaker present to us at school on the topic of teenagers and appropriate technology use and he highly recommended this accessible read. I didn’t need Adam to point out the rise in technology ‘addiction’ as I’m increasingly aware of my over-reliance on my iPhone. I am intrigued by Alter’s promise of ‘reverse engineering behavioral addiction to harness addictive products for the good—to improve how we communicate with each other, spend and save our money, and set boundaries between work and play’. When it comes to tech use I talk the talk….now I need to learn how to walk the walk.

This book will be the first book that we will read for our slowchat book club.



I think it was fate that I was to add Why We Sleep; Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams to my list. In the space of 24 hours, a podcast featuring the author Matthew Walker had been shared between a few teachers within my department. On the same day I saw Jim Davis carrying a copy around with him. Knowing that I have a long summer ahead of me I pre-ordered the paperback copy of the book. Dr. Walker dropped some serious knowledge bombs in this podcast and I’m fascinated by learning how to harness the power of sleep for my own benefit. I maintain that I’m a great sleeper but now I’m not so sure. Although I sleep, I now realize that it isn’t the deep sleep that I thought I was getting. It would appear that my caffeine addiction is effecting me more than I thought. I will definitely be able to take some of this material and share it with my students.

This book will be the second book that we will read for the slowchat book club.

slowchat book club (1).png

51kmM+vVRJL._SX337_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgI discovered Warlight by Michael Ondaatje via this Conde Naste Traveler list of 10 Best Summer Reads. At 304 pages long I might leave this one until the end of the summer. The author is an award winning literary giant and this book has been described as having sensuous prose, curious characters, missing threads and unstable footings. This novel combines historical fiction with a South London setting and features fourteen-year-old Nathaniel, and his older sister, Rachel. In 1945, just after World War II, they stay behind in London when their parents move to Singapore, leaving them in the care of a mysterious figure named The Moth.

51t1rbGkW7L._SS135_Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann was a last minute addition to my #summerreads list and I can’t even remember how I stumbled upon it. I had read The Lost City of Z by the same author and enjoyed it and the reviews for this book are awesome! The Amazon notes have whetted my appetite “In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe. Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. It was just the beginning, as more and more Osage were dying under mysterious circumstances, and many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll rose, the newly created FBI took up the case. An undercover team was formed, including a Native American agent who infiltrated the region, and together with the Osage began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.” I am slowly increasing my awareness of Native American history and feel like this will be a fascinating and educative read.

Discussion questions for Killers of the Flower Moon.

51d-LkAxZeL._SX356_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgWhen I can, I like to buy used (nearly new) books online. I picked up a used copy of Race, Ethnicity and Health for less than $6. A new version of the latest edition costs $50. I follow the author Thomas LaVeist on Twitter and his name cropped up in a few articles that I read so I was intrigued to see if I could read more from him. At 756 pages long I don’t expect to completely read this through the summer. However, as I continue to explore health disparity and inequity this will be a valuable resource to keep in my office. The book provides a historical and political context for the study of health, race, and ethnicity, with key findings on disparities in access, use, and quality. Again, my students will inevitably benefit from me spending time getting to understand this issue. I am already collating some resources for a future health disparity blog post.

I choose to read so many books over the summer because my 70 minute commute to school makes it ideal for podcasts and audio book listening. I’m halfway through the audio version of The Boys in the Boat right now, and aim to listen to The Hate U Give before the end of the school year. I’m hoping to spend quality time with my family this summer and aim to read these books in the garden, by the beach, away camping, and early in the summer mornings when everyone else in the family is asleep.

When I reached out to my PLN for book suggestions I received a wealth of great idea. I have collated these all into a Twitter moment and you can check the link and get lost among a long list of essential reads.

Other reading lists that you might like:

2018 Summer Reading List from We’re The People. A curated summer reading list that celebrates diversity and all its intersections.

The Great American Read downloadable checklist of 100 great books.

The Washington Post Summer Book List Like No Other

Esquires 20 Smart Books You’ll Want To Read At The Beach This Summer

Also consider checking out the Project LIT Book Club:

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