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For Grown-Ups Only

I know you just got all excited and everything, but really, this post is very G-rated. Sorry to disappoint, but a writer's got to grab her reader's attention somehow, right?

Recently, I've covered the bases for summer reading with kids. Following the guidelines I laid out in previous posts, you'll be able to help your child (or your students) avoid the summer slide - that dreaded regression of reading and comprehension skills that typically occurs over summer vacation. (Psssst...if you missed any of those posts, they are worth reading. You can find the links by clicking on the underlined stuff above. Just want to be helpful.)

But kids aren't the only ones who need to pick up a book over the summer. That's right, I'm talking to you, grown-ups. According to a Reader's Digest article about the benefits of reading, turning the pages of a good novel or digging into to your favorite online news outlet every day helps stave off Alzheimer's, improve empathy, encourage goal-setting, and even help you lose weight! (On this last one...I'm not sold. If that were true, I should be a skinny-Minnie right now.)

Responsibilities, packed schedules, and - let's be honest - exhaustion keep many of us from reading on a regular basis. Others find it difficult to choose a good book from the wealth of amazing literary choices out there. My heart goes out to you would-be readers who either can't find the time or can't find a book. I'd love to watch your kids for a couple hours or take your place at the office while you sneak out to get in a couple chapters, but that's just not going to happen. But I can offer a couple suggestions on what to read.

So, what to read? There are literally hundreds of thousands of choices for you out there. Most likely, there is a book to match your specific interest. Lately, I've been reading a ton of non-fiction. I've always been drawn to learning and history; I feel like reading non-fiction satisfies my craving for both. Here are some titles I've recently picked up (or listened to!). I highly recommend each one. Rest assured, if I don't enjoy a book, I won't be touting it on the blog.

Orphan Train by William Morrow - Our public library read this a few years ago as its One Book, One Community novel. Obviously, I'm a little behind. I actually listened to it on a recent road trip to visit from college friends. The telling of our country's attempt to alleviate over-crowding in cities by sending children across the country to be adopted is both heart-breaking and inspiring.

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakaur - This book is not for the faint of heart. It is graphic and at times very difficult to read. Krakaur exposes the double-standard of rape prosecution, the entitlement of male athletes, and the after-affects of rape victims in this ground-breaking investigative work.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain - I actually want to really encourage educators to read this one, as it turns cooperative learning on its ear. Bolstered by convincing evidence, Cain illustrates the innate power of being introverted and refutes the societal notion that "shyness" equals timidity. On a personal note, I am married to an introvert and found this book incredibly helpful in understanding his personality better. A must-read for anyone.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson - I've always had a fascination with African-American history and feel obligated to educate myself in order to better understand our world. This book chronicles the migration of African-Americans from the south to the industrialized north by following three individuals. Expertly researched, the book uncovers the origins of poverty and racism with regard to urban blacks. If you choose to read this book, you must follow it up with...

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander - Let's get real and serious for a moment; we can no longer deny that a not-so-subtle form of racism exists across this country. With meticulous exactness, Alexander exposes the root causes of mass incarceration and the societal consequences of it. This book sparked some real soul-searching for me, and I think it should be required reading for every person in our country.

Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic by Steven Johnson - This was kind of a random pick. I think it was late, and I wanted something to read. But it's so good! The cholera outbreak of 1854 decimated the population of London and served as a catalyst for myriad changes in the way we track, treat, and test for disease.

I think that's a good place to start, don't you?

Pretty soon, I'm going to need some new reading share what you've been reading! Post a comment here about a book you've read that you would recommend. Or go to Story Trekker on Facebook and leave a message or a comment there. I'd LOVE to hear what you're reading and add it to my list. And let me know what you think about the books I've listed.

Now, log off the computer and get reading! There really is no time to waste.

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