Summer reading: The coping edition

For book nerds, summer brings a host of lists and choices to while away days at the beach or on a porch by the lake.

I’ve been on a reading journey of sorts myself, starting off 2017 with a resolution that I’ve actually kept.  I begin each day (after putting the coffee on) by opening a book and reading a chapter or two. Some days that takes just 10 minutes, others a half hour or more.  No checking email, catching up on Twitter, reading headlines or searching through my Facebook feed until that reading is done.

It’s been a game-changer for me. Now I’m starting each day in a more peaceful place.  And I’m reading more books.

It didn’t hurt that I started this practice with The Book of Joy, Douglas Abrams’ chronicle of the birthday meeting between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. I’ve tabbed more pages and written more notes in that book than any other in my life. And I keep going back to it for some humor and wisdom when the news of the day gets me down, which happens with some frequency lately.

I followed that with a series of inspirational reads, again a testament to what’s happening in the world. Topping the list was Anne Lamott’s Hallelujah Anyway, which then led me seek out as much Lamott as I could consume, a feast of beautiful words always:  Small Victories, Stitches, and of course her classic on writing, Bird by Bird

Next came Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy (reviewed here), and Laura Schroff’s Angels on Earth, a feature at my local bookstore, Watchung Booksellers. Angels on Earth was an offshoot of Schroff’s An Invisible Thread, the story of her life-changing chance encounter with an 11-year-old panhandler on a Manhattan street corner.  That’s next up on my nightstand pile.

Several of these books introduced me to the folks at Idea Architects, the agency whose mantra is this: “Helping visionaries create a wiser, healthier, and more just world. One book at a time.”

Right now I’m in the middle of another of their works, Into the Magic Shop by James Doty, a neurosurgeon’s tale of his own journey from a troubled to peaceful and compassionate life, “part science, part inspiration and part practical instruction.”

What’s ahead for my summer?  I need a little humor, so I’ll finally get to Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime and take on Al Franken’s Giant of the Senate.

I’ve put off for too long Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize winning The Sympathizer, so I hope to get to that and follow it with his The Refugees – both tales of resettlement life here. In a similar vein is Tell Me How It Ends, Valeria Luiselli’s short but compelling report on what she learned working as a translator for undocumented children in New York City’s immigration court.

And because I love any book that involves Irish families, I’ll read J. Courtney Sullivan’s Saints for all Occasions.

Need a few more suggestions?

Here’s a New York Times list of books to breeze through this summer and some recommendations from authors who also own bookstores.

And if you need some visual guidance, Pop Chart Lab offers this chart of 100 essential novels to read – one scratch at a time.

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