In a year when I’ve been physically and mentally challenged more than any other in my career, and I’m aware that I said something similar last summer (!), books have been a constant in my self-care armory. Intentionally carving out time for myself has boosted my health and wellness when I needed it most. Music, meditation, trying new foods and physical therapy sessions on my recovering achilles heel all made up what I called my #SelfCareSessions. And, of course, reading played a big part in those sessions too.
Reading remains one of my favorite acts of self-care, and summertime is my favorite time to read. Not only does reading boost my brain health, it’s also an opportunity for me to devote quiet time to myself, usually early in the morning but also late at night.
My #summerreads blog posts have become an annual affair, and so once again, here is the list of 9 books that I aim to complete this summer. This is a list of books that I attempt to complete before the return to school. Some of these books have been on my reading stack for a while now, some recommended by educators on twitter, and some recommended by students of mine. Some of these books I will 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 a collection of amazing book list suggestions from other sites. There WILL be something in this blog post for everybody.
Although I’m now primarily seen as a health teacher, I was a physical education teacher in London for the first 12 years of my career. While I have exciting summer plans for my health teaching, it is the PE side of my game that I want to focus on next year. Meaningful PE has been all over my social media feed for the past year or so, in fact, there’s even 18 hours of podcast conversations on the topic. While I ‘think’ I’m following a meaningful PE approach – I seek to make my lessons relevant to students lives and encourage them to see personal significance in our lessons, this book will help me identify where I need to grow as an educator.
Each department at my school has equity goals, and my request for the school to purchase this book was granted. While I make every attempt to make my teaching spaces as supportive, empathetic, and nurturing as possible, I know that this is work that can never stop. I hope to make copious notes while reading and then present back to my department on my findings from this, and the meaningful PE book.
This book comes recommended by Emily Zien, and I trust her reading (and hip-hop) suggestions implicitly. Kerri Kelly is a podcast host, a community organizer, wellness activist and author and her bio makes me want to consume everything that she creates. In this book she poses these questions – Who gets to be well in America? Who’s harmed–and who’s left out? And what’s the real-life cost of our obsession with self-improvement? Having spent the past year having my mind blown by the Maintenance Phase podcast, I think I’m ready to dive deep into this book.
This was my Book of the Month selection for June!
Marcus Bridgewater has been compared to Bob Ross and Mister Rogers for his soothing TikTok videos that relate botany to humanity. A gardener “who shares tips about caring for one’s plants and oneself” (New York Times)
As someone who knows the wellness benefits from being outside and in my garden, but also doesn’t have the confidence in his own gardening ability, THIS might be the book I need the most this summer.
How to Grow isn’t a gardening book. It is a self-help book that draws inspiration from the garden. Original, timely, and filled with nurturing wisdom, it takes perennial knowledge from plants to teach us about ourselves and opens our eyes to what we are capable of achieving.
I have enjoyed all of the Bill Bryson books I’ve read in the past, but this one had passed me by. I love to connect with students through the music they listen to, the shows they watch, and the books they read, and this book was recommended to me by a student.
In this book Bryson guides us through the human body—how it functions, its remarkable ability to heal itself, and (unfortunately) the ways it can fail. “The Body will lead you to a deeper understanding of the miracle that is life in general and you in particular”. Surely there will be some nuggets of wisdom, some Brysonesque anecdotes that I can bring into my health classroom.
My annual #summerreads have included The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones and There There by Tommy Orange which I’ve both really enjoyed. This book also comes from an indigenous author, Talty is a citizen of the Penobscot Indian Nation, and has been hailed as “a standout talent in contemporary fiction.”
Set in a Native community in Maine, Night of the Living Rez is a collection of 12 short stories about what it means to be Penobscot in the twenty-first century and what it means to live, to survive, and to persevere after tragedy.
THIS book has been on my mental reading stack for the past few years! The book traces the Tribe’s creative career, from their early days as part of the Afrocentric rap collective known as the Native Tongues (I LOVED THIS SOUND), through their first three classic albums, to their eventual breakup and long hiatus. Throughout the narrative Abdurraqib connects the music and cultural history to their street-level impact. I have a feeling that my summer soundtrack will heavily feature A Tribe Called Quest, Jungle Brothers, De La Soul and others. Until I make my own playlist, enjoy this one.
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
I missed the Bourdain train, and only now following his death am I interested in finding out what the buzz was all about. I connected with a student this year about our shared love of food, and he recommended this book to me. In fact I traded my copy of Notes From A Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi for his copy of Kitchen Confidential. This book became a classic and Bourdain became an even bigger sensation. Once I’ve read this I’ll check out Roadrunner, the new Bourdain documentary on CNN.
I LOVE my local library, and this award winning book is their 2022 Book of the Summer. I am currently listening to it via the Libby app and am loving it. It’s a story of adventure, faith, and friendship. A fantasy crossed with Chinese folklore, and totally something I would never have considered reading had it not been for the library recommendation. This reminds me that I must broaden my scope when it comes to finding new books to read.
Other reading lists from which you might find inspiration:
UC Berkeley has a cool summer reading list for new students with their theme this year being “Illuminating Communities”.
88 Books to Bring Your Summer Alive from The New York Times.
21 Books to Read This Summer from The Washington Post.
The Great American Read downloadable checklist of 100 great books.
Race, Racism and Rebellion, an essential, and ever-growing collated list of social justice reads.
The Slowchathealth Books of the Month. See what books have been recommended by the blog over the last few years.
Please share what books you plan on reading this summer on social media or in the comments section below.
If you’re interested in what I’m listening to right now, here’s my 2022 playlist of songs that have caught my eye/ear this year to date.