Cal Humanities

"Part of resilience is finding joy, finding beauty, finding love."

— George Takei, Actor, Author, Director, Activist

"Part of resilience is finding joy, finding beauty, finding love."

— George Takei, Actor, Author, Director, Activist

What Will You Be Reading This Summer?

It’s no secret that staff members at California Humanities are avid readers and we want to share with you what we’re currently reading or hoping to read over the summer months.

Renée Perry our Operations Coordinator is reading the following:

This summer, Renée will be indulging in fantasy and science fiction and the first book on her list is Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale. This debut novel is rooted in Russian fairytales. The second book on Renée’s list is Ken Liu’s The Grace of Kings. This is based, very loosely, on Chinese history and is enormous, so it may take her through the entire summer. Renée is also hoping to find time for her annual read of Michael Chabon’s Summerland, which is a sweet book about baseball, families, and what a long lazy summer can feel like.

Project and Evaluation Director, Felicia Kelley has added Alexander Langlands’ Cræft: An Inquiry Into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts to her list. Archaeologist and BBC presenter Langlands brings his approachable voice and unique firsthand experience to this exploration of the history behind traditional crafts. Despite its modern usage, craft—or cræft, in Old English—is about more than just making; it also connotes the knowledge and resourcefulness needed to adapt in the face of changing materials and circumstances. 

On our Community Engagement Coordinator, Neha Balram’s list is The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers, edited by Hollis Robbins and Louis Gates Jr. This collection comprises work from over 50 writers arranged into sections of memoir, poetry and essays on feminism, education and the legacy of black women writers.

Jody Sahota, Communications Manager, just added Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything to her growing summer reading list. Having already read Bryson’s humorous “travel” literature A Walk in the Woods and In A Sunburned Country, Jody is hoping to travel with Bryson as he seeks to understand how we got from there (the Big Bang) being nothing at all to there (rise of civilization) being us. 


Julie Fry, President & CEO has the following on her list:

Amor Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel is a novel about an unrepentant aristocratic man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life under house arrest inside a luxury hotel in 1922 Moscow.

Luis Alberto Urrea’s The House of Broken Angels is a story of the de La Cruze family, a complex family narrative reminding us of what it means to be the first generation and to live two lives across one border.

Betty Reid Soskin’s Sign My Name to Freedom: A Memoir of a Pioneering Life is a recently published memoir chronicling Soskin’s personal experiences of living through great social change. In this memoir, Soskin shares her nine decades of experience of “living while black.” It chronicles her life as a granddaughter of slaves; as a wife, mother and local business owner; from singer/songwriter to civil rights activist and much more. 

Sonia Nazario’s Enrique’s Journey: The Story of a Boy’s Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite With His Mother is the story of a Honduran boy’s struggle to find his mother in the United States. Nazario begins the story, as Enrique did, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and she retraces his steps and tells the story in first person narrative, as though she herself was on the journey with Enrique.

NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names is an exciting literary debut: the unflinching and powerful story of Darling, a 10-year-old girl who escapes from a violent world in Zimbabwe to her aunt in the United States.

Edward Rutherfurd’s Paris the Novel is a book that brings to life the most magical city in the world: Paris. This breathtaking multigenerational saga takes readers on a journey through thousands of years of glorious Parisian history.



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