Yay! Summer's almost here!
Boo, it's still a pandemic.
As we roll toward a 3rd (!!) summer shadowed by a pandemic, we try to navigate life with a serious concern for equitable global health, and also have some fun.
We all deserve it by now, especially those of us who are still masking and distancing and taking this thing seriously to help stop the spread - I see you and I feel you. (Big time. I live in Florida much of the time. )
So what better (and pandemic smart) way to relax on a summer day than curling up in the sunshine with a good book?! And that brings me to... this year's annual summer reading list! This year's list has what I think will be a couple unexpected titles, but I think you will love them!
& Rather than focus only on kids (under 12) and grownups, I chose some books targeted at adolescents this year that I think are spectacular.
2022 Summer Book List!
The Well Gardened Mind
You may recognize this one from the Wonder Wednesday 118 project. But it is so spectacular it had to be first on the list.
Written by Sue Stuart-Smith, a gardening psychologist who works with those experiencing trauma and PTSD in garden settings at hospitals, prisons, and more.
This book offers equal amount inspiration, neuroscience, social science, and motivation to get out into nature and garden for your long term mental health - in easy and challenging times of life.
You Grow, Gurl!
If you aren't following author Christopher Griffin on Instagram @plantkween, jump on that follow asap! This book is a pure delight to read, the photos a feast for the eyes, and it is seriously informative.
In my opinion, this is the definitive go-to guide for anyone interested in house plants. It will quell fears, dispel "green thumb" myths, release you from past plant fails, and set you up for house plant growing success!
Whether you are a "plant parent newbie", seasoned plant kween yourself, or simply a house plant plant voyeur, reading this book will bring joy to your heart - and all the bounty of botanical info is framed in the lens of pant care as self care. Win-Win!
The Seaweed Collector's Handbook
Part field guide, part nature writing, part nature journal, I can't wait to dive into this one! Last summer I read the Seaweed Chronicles, so I'm really looking forward to following it up with this gem!
Written and illustrated by Dutch poet and artist Mike Zwamborn, I know I'm going to be dreaming of trips to Maine & Wales to collect seaweed - and scoping the scene here at my own beach this fall when the tropical storms push it in!
This book by David Rothenberg just might blow your mind. This books explores the theory that humans got our idea of rhythm, synchronization, and dance from the world of insect sounds that surrounded our species over the millions of years over which we evolved."
For example: Did you know that many birds have the ability to move the pitch of their song into available space in the acoustic niche? for example if their environment is dominate by a loud noice, like a motor, they could raise the pitch of their song into a higher frequency range so their species can hear it cut through the din.
Or that crickets use complex communication to modify their sounds to get different outcomes? For example in courting, they go back and forth changing clicks to attract mates, and then sending different messages depending on the other crickets response!
Don't worry, I'm not weighing your beach bag down with Yuval Noah Harari's seminal 2.5 pound, nearly 600 page book! This is the 2-part graphic novel series adapted for adolescents and anyone who's curious about human experience on planet Earth.
I've read both versions, and while this one may be less dense, it is just as rich with evolutionary biology and wonder as the original. The fully illustrated info is framed within the story of Harari himself narrating and exploring the topic with his niece - and features a cast of actual brilliant historians, scientists, and more!
This book is a must have for elementary homeschoolers, and Montessori Upper Elementary and Secondary classrooms too! It's a perfect compliment to the Timeline of Humans work!
You Know, Sex
As my 10 year old friend (who's mom introduced me to this series) said, "I don't know why people are so weird about bodies. Bodies are just nature."
Exactly! All humans are just nature!
If every adult read this 432 page graphic novel, and it was used as a teaching tool in every 9th grade health class, the united states would be in a very different situation regarding Women's and LGBTQIA+ health and rights.
Beyond the classic puberty stuff and hetero "sex ed" reproduction information, this highly inclusive book also addresses every issue today's teens must navigate. The chapters on consent, relationships, trauma, internet pornography, and more taught me a few things! I'm happy I was a teenager pre-internet!
I can't recommend this book any more highly! I gave it 10 stars! That's how good, important, and relevant it is.
Written by Cory Silverberg, the son of a librarian and a sex educator - he's also written What Makes a Baby (ages 3-9) and Sex is a Funny Word (ages 8-13) and I recommend getting the whole set for every child you know - I already got them for my nephews!
The Great Trouble
This historical fiction novel by Deborah Hopkinson was introduced to me by that same 10 year old. (She's an avid reader you may have guess.)
It's the true story of Dr. John Snow, and how he discovered the cause of the cholera epidemic in London. But enrobed in a fictional relationship with a young street boy and friend who help gather evidence for Snow to prove his theory, as a way to save his own and the lives of the people in his neighborhood along the Thames.
This is a great read for 8-12 year olds who are interested in virology or seeking some inspiring tales of the scientists and doctors who save humans from epidemics.
Art in Nature
You may remember Tove Jansson's name from last summer's list. Well, I'm still completely smitten with her writing and on a mission to read everything that's been translated to English.
Originally published in 1978 as Dockskåpet, this collection of short stories explores the human relationship with art - and more the places where that relationship cracks and/or breaks.
And of course all are set in the natural landscape backdrop of Helsinki and the Finnish Pellinge Archipelago were Jansson spent the majority of her life and loved so dearly. Jansson's stories are so embedded with meaning and humanity, even though they are fiction I still read them with a pencil at hand to make notes in the margins!
Last but not least, this one is pure beach brain candy by one of my top 3 fave filmmakers and authors, John Waters. It has nothing to do with nature, but when it comes to art and the deep understanding of human nature that only the most brilliant comedians possess, Waters is cream of the crop!
Author of 8 books and director/author of 18 films/screenplays, Lairmouth is his first novel, and hot off the press at that. I look forward to his brilliant dialogue, scathing critique on normative culture, and hilarious comedic portrayal of the moral majority.
Time to Hit the Books
Well, this list should keep ya busy for a while! Grab some sunglasses, a cool drink, a sun umbrella, and while away those summer weekends in safe style with these really great reads!
You'll be relaxed, healthy, and ready to take on fall equipped with new knowledge, some clever quips, and perhaps a new garden or some spectacularly healthy house plants!
Here's to a virus free summer! Free, for you and free from community spread!
Which books are already on your list?
Share in the comments below!
Share pics of your summer garden or houseplant adventures on Instagram #wingswormsandwonder!
Seeds to Sprout:
The 2021 List!
Looking for more 5-9 age summer reading suggestions?
Check out last year's list!
(& search and of the previous years too)
5 More Books!
And here is another years list! (I'm thinking it's 2018)
You'll find some great children's books as well as some fave grown-up reads including the mind-blowing What a Plant knows.
Break out your blue paints and track those summer blue skies! Paint yourself a cyanometer with this Wonder Wednesday 81 project.
A more in depth version of this project is in my book Draw Yourself Back to Nature if you want to spend summer painting & reading!