Friday In Iowa: Summer Reading

Photo Credit: Haunted Bookshop

Photo Credit: Haunted Bookshop

The phrase “summer reading” evokes when we took off from school, and had leisure time between Memorial Day and Labor Day. For some it still involves barbecuing, boating, swimming, vacations and a host of activities tied to youth. Today, people continue to summer, but briefly and in competition with the constant clamor of the exigencies of modern life. People are busy trying to survive and get ahead, all the time, and there is less time for reading. Here are a few of my picks for reading during summer 2014.


The classic novel of summer is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and I recommend a second look.

My summer fiction reading will include The Home Place by Carrie La Seur. La Seur is the founder of Plains Justice and a practicing attorney in Billings, Montana, where she has family roots. The Home Place is La Seur’s first novel, due to be released July 29. A section of the book, can be found in New Voices in Fiction Sampler: Summer Selection, which can be downloaded free for Kindle here.

On the wonky side, check out Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, translated by Arthur Goldhammer. Piketty writes that the main driver of inequality is return on capital exceeding the rate of economic growth. Check out a section from the introduction here. Also a bit wonky, but very readable is Eric Schlosser’s Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Incident, and the Illusion of Safety.

If you have not read Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, it is worth the time, even though it was published in 1969. “The first in a seven-volume series, it is a coming-of-age story that illustrates how strength of character and a love of literature can help overcome racism and trauma,” according to Wikipedia.


Pick one poem, any one, and read it… aloud. Then read another. Go to the public library and find the poetry section. Spend an hour browsing through whatever comes into view. Readers will develop their own interests, but in my to-read pile are The Oldest Map with the Name America by Lucia Perillo, Collected Poems by Vachel Lindsay, Miracle Fair by Wisława Szymborska-Włodek, The Spirit Level by Seamus Heaney, An Inconvenient Genocide by Alicia Ghiragossían, and Scattered Brains by Darrell Gray.

Screen Time

Turn off the television. It won’t kill you. In our house, we haven’t disconnected from cable, but we shed the premium channels, including MSNBC, long ago. We rarely turn on the T.V. and life has been better. I suppose if we cared about the World Cup, we’d watch more.

That said, we have screen time, and using it efficiently is an important endeavor, equal in importance to the time we spend in the real world, talking and listening to real people. In many respects, time in front of the screen has replaced television and print media and can provide value.

This summer, Blog for Iowa recommends you check out some new authors who post on the Internet, including current fave Art Cullen of the Storm Lake Times, and the blogs Leaf and Twig, A Buick in the Land of Lexus, and ICI & LA NATURE PICTURES: Walk and Bike in France.

Best wishes for great reading this summer. Don’t forget to bookmark Blog for Iowa and check back often.

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