Friday, June 6, 2014

Read me! TED speakers offer their summer reading lists

Ah, summer. The season of good intentions, precious free time washed away by busy vacations and cookouts, must-see blockbusters at the googolplex, trips to emergency rooms from pratfalls and bug bites and the certain, overwhelming realization that, really, it's too-darn-hot to think by July 4th. 

So summer is also the time when readers hope against hope to get to "a few books" this season. 

The good folks at TED have made the glorious agony of summer reading even more acute by asking their lecturers to suggest reading lists. From Jane Eyre to The Big Bento Box of Unuseless Japanese Inventionsthere are plenty of ideas here to make a porch-side stack to go on top of the books one has already promised repeatedly to read.

It's enough to make a reader lie down and take a long afternoon nap just to consider all of the books that will likely never be opened. Here, to take one example, is the list by TEDster Karen Wickre, the editorial director of Twitter, that illustrates the range of what I could be reading in the next few months ...  if I wasn't out buying ice cream, and more sunblock for those lazy afternoon dozes in the hammock. Still, a summer reading list is always a wonderful thing to contemplate: I see I've read at least some of these suggestions in summers past. There is always hope.

Karen Wickre is an an avid reader and supporter of TED. Her curation philosophy: “These six titles reflect my passions — graphic non-fiction, home and Buddhism, loosely defined. I hope you discover something that speaks to you in any one of them.”
River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West by Rebecca Solnit. “Such a terrific story: how Northern California became the nexus and nurturer of early technologies, outsized dreams and failures. Little has changed in 150 years.”
Are You My Mother? By Alison Bechdel. “The saga of Alison’s gnarly relationship with her complicated, mixed-signal-emitting mother. It’s rich in self-awareness, humor, and a hard-won understanding of how life works.”
Comfortable With Uncertainty by Pema Chodron. “I have my share of Buddhism for Westerners titles; the ones I return to are by Pema Chodron. The chapters are short readings that guide us through the various difficulties of being human in a modern world.”
Home: What It Means and Why It Matters by Mary Gordon. “A lovely exploration of what makes a space into home, and how acutely we feel longing for that ideal. As a nester of the first order, I love understanding the deeper impulses.”
Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? by Brian Fies. “A whimsical (and dark) graphical exploration of our old ideas of what the future could mean, and our grownup understanding of its limitations.”
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. “This cabinet of wonders offers a secret bookstore, Google, magical characters and digital natives interacting and exploring the pull of old and new. Sloan is deft and affectionate.”

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