Summer reading, and some are not. So what? Summer season reading as escapist beach recreation is just holdover East Coast chauvinism. Where there even are beaches in the rest of the country, it’s either warm or cool all year. What does figure as a summer season difference is academic freedom—that is, the freedom of people employed in academia from all the regular nonsense they do that has nothing to do with why they got into academia in the first place.
So for them, it’s a time without committee meetings, assessments, grade conferences, promotion portfolios, classes teaching the Same Old to the newly uninterested, and more committee meetings. For some, it is a time for writing and/or reading, and getting reacquainted with the Real Thing. It’s a time for, in a word not often spoke anywhere (least of all in academia): literature.
Following are considerations of several new books that unashamedly “valorize” literature.