Reading List for Summertime (or anytime…)

written by Tania Kuehn

A few days ago, I was at work and mentioned to a co-worker that I’d had a somewhat frustrating morning due to a few incidents that had had happened during my shift so far. She nodded sympathetically and suggested that, how about on my coffee break, I head out for a nice leisurely walk across the parking lot and find a place to sit at the beach? Perhaps overlooking the lake and taking in the fresh breeze would do me some good, she suggested. And yes, those are good suggestions. I do like being outside, and I think that it can be relaxing to gaze out at the lake. However — and I told my co-worker this — my way of dealing with situations, such as a stressful time at work, is usually to read, read, read. Sometimes I’ll read something specifically related to whatever’s bothering me at the moment, and sometimes I’ll read anything that allows my mind to escape reality for a while. And besides, I just like to read, period!

As a kid, I’d get carsick after looking down and reading, no matter how many times my parents suggested that I not do that. As a teenager, my idea of a fun Sunday afternoon was going to Starbucks, buying a coffee, and reading (one time, I acted as though I totally knew what an espresso was and that I had intended to order one, to stay… I sat there, reading a couple chapters of a novel… oh, I sat there for forever, nursing that miniscule cup of caffeine!). When I volunteered at a hospice society in my mid-20s, I spent hours and hours reading about grief, dying, death, and many related topics. Later on in my 20s, as I left my religious faith, I delved into the many books that deal with religion, spirituality, why we believe what we believe, making sense of life without religion, coping with loss, moving forward when everything we once believed is falling apart. This past autumn, I started volunteering at Habitat for Humanity, and I’m now learning more about poverty, inequality, homelessness, and so on. As well, in the past couple years, I’ve become more interested in history and all the things that happened before my 34 years on Earth (a lot of very fascinating stuff, apparently!).

If I’m unsure of how to deal with a difficult person in my life, I will likely talk to the Handyman or a good friend or my mom… but I’ll also use Google, or maybe Psychology Today magazine, and the Okanagan Regional Library website to find a book that might provide some solutions. When I’ve got a few hours to spare at home or a long time to wait for a bus, some of that time will very likely be spent with a book. If I’m feeling happy or relaxed or sad or angry, there’s a good chance I’ll find something to read.

So, I did thank my co-worker Lisa for her suggestion to go out and enjoy the beautiful weather… and then I grabbed my purse, some crackers and cheese, and “The Bonobo and the Atheist.” I went downstairs to the old, somewhat dingy locker room, put up my feet, and opened the book. My sunshine, my fresh breeze, my beach.

Here’s a list of some of the books I’ve read lately — not always from cover to cover, but at least in part. Some of them, such as “Salt,” I haven’t been able to read from start to finish at this time, because the content is so detailed and unfamiliar to me and there’s no way I’d retain much of it anyhow… but still, for some people, it might not be such a challenge! Also, some books had to be returned to the library before I could finish them, but I enjoyed the parts that I did read.

Books about the Internet and its impact on humankind
Irresistible: the rise of addictive technology and the business of keeping us hooked — Adam Alter
The Cyber Effect: a pioneering cyberpsychologist explains how human behaviour changes online — Mary Aiken
Videocracy: how Youtube is changing the world…with double rainbows, singing foxes, and other trends we can’t stop watching  —  Kevin Allocca
It’s Complicated: the social lives of networked teens — danah boyd

Primates and birds!
The Bonobo and the Atheist: in search of humanism among the primates — Frans de Waal
Through a Window: my thirty years with the chimpanzees of Gombe — Jane Goodall
The Migration of Birds: seasons on the wing — Janice Maryan Hughes

At Home on the Street: people, poverty, and a hidden culture of homelessness — Jason Wasserman and Jeffrey Clair
Street Stories: 100 years of homelessness in Vancouver — Michael Barnholden and Nancy Newman

Funny books 🙂
Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo — Amy Schumer
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened — Jenny Lawson

The Origin of Others — Toni Morrison
Salt: a world history — Mark Kurlansky
Ecomomics: the user’s guide — Ha-Joon Chang

And here are some of the books that will soon be waiting for me at the library:
Journey to the Ice Age: discovering an ancient world — Peter Storck
So You Want to Talk About Race — Ijeoma Oluo
Loneliness: human nature and the need for social connection — John Cacioppo
Off: your digital detox for a better life — Tanya Goodin
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: a counterintuitive approach to living a good life — Mark Manson

Happy summer-time reading, everyone!