We, at California Humanities love books, and we thought we’d share with you what we’re currently reading, or hope to be reading over the summer months.

Neha Balram is reading Bullies: A Friendship by Alex Abramovich, as an East Bay and an Oakland newbie, Neha naturally picked this one off of the shelf. You can feel the East Bay Rats MC presence in almost any dive or punk show in the East Bay. Bullies centers on the author and his most memorable bully, the founder and president of the motorcycle club, who reconnect off of the playground and as adults. This book is an outsider’s look into a community that is quintessential Oakland.

Julie Fry is reading the following:

The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography, by Miriam Pawel, in the first comprehensive biography of Chavez, Miriam Pawel offers a searching yet empathetic portrayal. Chavez emerges here as a visionary whose eyes were fixed on a horizon others often could not even see. He was a brilliant strategist who sometimes stumbled, and a streetwise organizer whose pragmatism was often at odds with his soaring dreams.

NOTE: Miriam is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and will be part of our Pulitzer Centennial Campfire iniative taking place in Fresno on September 28, where she and Dawn Mabalon will discuss the farmworker movement.

Wisdom of the Last Farmer:The Legacy of Generations by former California Humanities board member, David Mas Masumoto. Hailed by The New York Times as a poet of farming, Slow Food activist Masumoto weaves together stories of family and farming, life and death, to reveal age-old wisdom that is fast disappearing–and urgently needed.

Tangled Vines: Greed, Murder, Obsession, and an Arsonist in the Vineyards of California by Frances Dinkelspiel On October 12, 2005, a massive deliberate fire had been set by Mark Anderson, a skilled con man and thief trying to cover his tracks. The fire destroyed the Wines Central wine warehouse in Vallejo, 4.5 million bottles of wine were destroyed, including 175 bottles of priceless Port and Angelica made in California’s oldest vineyards by Frances Dinklespiel’s great-great grandfather, Isaias Hellman in 1875.

NOTE: Frances Dinkelspiel will be part of our Pulitzer Prize Centennial Campfire iniative panel discussion taking place in San Jose on June 16. She and Pulitzer Prize-winning authors will discuss journalism and democracy in California.

Felicia Kelley will be reading the Three Californias Trilogy by Orange County native Kim Stanley Robinson. These three novels, beginning with The Wild Shore, followed by The Gold Coast and lastly Pacific Edge, are set in the not-to-distant future of Southern California, each exploring an alternative future (dystopian, utopian, post-apocalyptic).

Erin Menne is reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by MarieKondo. Erin is hoping that this book will provide some motivation for spring cleaning. To pass her commute time and to de-clutter her mind, Erin is also reading Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn.

Janine Paver has a pile of books on her nightstand all ready for the summer, including Needful Things by Stephen King, The Egyptologist by Arthur Philips, Callander Square by Anne Perry, Flotsam by Erich Maria Remarque and Black Orchids and The Silent Speaker by Rex Stout.

Jody Sahota, in addition to being very interested in Janine’s reading list will be reading The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum. This book combines two of Jody’s literary loves, the roaring 20s and breaking down the “perfect” crime.