Everything you need to know about summer reading (including recommendations)

Summer reading—what is it? Where did it come from? Who started it? If these are things you’ve wondered about, we have just the book for you! Books for Idle Hours: Nineteenth-Century Publishing and the Rise of Summer Reading by Donna Harrington-Lueker draws on publishing records, book reviews, readers’ diaries, and popular novels of the period to explore the beginning of summer reading. 

Looking for summer reading recommendations? Keep reading!

Our first recommendation is Testing Education: A Teacher’s Memoir by Kathy Greeley. Named the summer read for the MTA reads program, Testing Education recounts the impact of education reform from a teacher’s point of view. Based on a teaching career spanning nearly forty years, Greeley details how schools went from learning communities infused with excitement, intellectual stimulation, and joy to sterile spaces of stress, intimidation, and fear. In this ultimately hopeful memoir, Greeley asks us to learn from the past to reimagine the future of public education.

Up next, Food Margins: Lessons from an Unlikely Grocer by Cathy Stanton, which was featured in the 2024 Civil Eats Summer Book Guide. Part memoir and part history lesson, Food Margins traces the tangled economic and political histories of the plantation, the factory, and the supermarket through the life of one New England town. Stanton tells a complex and compelling story of a rural community imagining and creating a viable alternative to the mainstream in a time of increasingly urgent need to build a more socially and ecologically just food system.

Looking for something with a few laughs? Don’t worry, Green World: A Tragicomic Memoir of Love & Shakespeare by Michelle Ephraim has you covered! Named a Jewish Women’s Archive Summer 2024 Book Club Pick, Green World is the hilarious and heartbreaking story of Ephraim’s quest to become a Shakespeare scholar and to find community and home. As she studies Shakespeare, Ephraim’s world uncannily begins to mirror the story of the Jewish daughter in The Merchant of Venice, and she finds herself in a Green World, an idyllic place where Shakespeare’s heroines escape their family trauma. Green World reckons with global, historical, and personal tragedy and shows how literature—comic and tragic—can help us brave every kind of anguish.

None of these seem like your perfect summer book? We’re posting recommendations all summer over on our social media channels. Find us on Facebook, Instagram, X, and LinkedIn. So far, we’ve covered the categories below (stay tuned for more!):