Friday Reads - April 26


My husband, knowing how obsessed I’ve become about whales since reading Moby-Dick last year, gave me Philip Hoare’s Leviathan for my birthday. If you have the same fascinations—Melville and his novel; the history of whaling and the economies that depended upon it; the delicate relationship between whales, the ocean, and the climate; and the miraculous private lives of the great animals themselves—I think you’ll love this book, too. Part memoir, history, biography, literary criticism, and nature writing, this beautifully written book ticks all the boxes. —Rebecca


Elizabeth Rush’s book, Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore, is harrowing, thoughtful, personal and important. Her description of “endsickness” is something I think about daily. “What I used to call climate anxiety has become more like a disease. I call it endsickness. Like motion sickness or seasickness, endsickness is a physical response to living in a world that is moving in unusual ways, toward what I imagine as a kind of event horizon.” —Shari

Summer Reading Lists - Dede Cummings

Dede Cummings

Dede Cummings

Today's summer reading list is thanks to another of our Poetry & Pie participants, Dede Cummings. In addition to being a poet, Dede is a book designer, literary agent, and the founder of Green Writers Press.

Of her first volume of poetry, To Look Out From (Homebound Publications, 2017), poet Clarence Major says Dede's poems "are breathtakingly vivid. Deeply felt, they often chronicle the relationship between self and the natural world, between self and others." Dede next book will be a collection of memoir stories called Spin Cycle.

We are delighted to share Dede's summer reading list with you. Thank you, Dede!

Dede Cummings' Summer Reading List


I loved The Rules Do Not Apply (Random House) by Ariel Levy and highly recommend it for an immersive summer read. There was a New Yorker piece by journalist Ariel Levy entitled "Thanksgiving in Mongolia” that I read when it was first published. What Levy did with the well-received piece was turn it into a gripping memoir of her own life, leading up to the tragic end of the life of her child, an almost full-term baby boy. While that may make some readers squeamish, Levy delivers the story tempered with grace and humor. I wanted to keep reading, to follow her through her life, to celebrate the inevitable joy that would perhaps come after tragedy. A first-class memoir by a terrific writer.


The Green House (Salmon Publishing) by Minnesotan Joyce Sutphen is one of my new favorite poetry collections, published by Irish publisher Salmon Poetry in April of this year. Salmon Poetry will be publishing my second poetry collection in 2019, so I found Joyce’s book while perusing their online catalog, looking for other women poets from the United States. When I started reading the copy I ordered from my local bookstore, I was immediately transported to Ireland — the writing on place and landscape is inspiring. I loved her poem “A Dream of the Future.” In it, Sutphen writes, “Like scarecrows, we scare a bird or two. / We know what we are and are not.”


In this small gem of a book, The Clothing of Books (Vintage), Jhumpa Lahiri (The Interpreter of Maladies is the best short story collection and ranks with Alice Munro’s work as one of my favorites of all-time), takes on book cover design. I thought this might be an interesting read for me, as my day job is that of a book cover designer, and I was entranced by her take on the visual language of book cover design and how enmeshed an author becomes in her own book. A delight and a short read to savor.


As a publisher of environmental literature, I have to say I was disappointed I didn’t think of this anthology, Coming of Age at the End of Nature (Trinity University Press), of voices of young writers faced with the reality of climate change, but the fact that one of my newest children’s book authors, Julie Dunlap (and co-author, Susan A. Cohen) did gives me renewed hope in the future and the power of words to transform and give voice to a whole generation. The passionate voices in this anthology need to be heard and they are gently shepherded by the editors as they come of age. In my favorite essay by the up-and-coming young writer, Sierra Dickey (who lives in Brattleboro, Vermont), she sums things up beautifully in her final paragraph on the fate of the plovers: “In order to love and live with what can’t last, we need to get oriented with vulnerability, and we need to move with gentleness.” Well said and food for thought for us all.

Summer Reading Lists - James Crews

James Crews

James Crews

Today's summer reading list comes from poet James Crews, who will be reading at our Poetry & Pie event on July 29.

James' first collection of poetry, The Book of What Stays (University of Nebraska Press, 2011) won the 2010 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry. Michael Simms of Coal Hill Review calls The Book of What Stays "one of the very best original books of poetry I've read in years." James' second book, Telling My Father, will be released this fall by Southeast Missouri State University Press. 

We couldn't be more thrilled that James is joining us for Poetry & Pie. I hope you'll be there to hear his reading, too.

Thank you for sharing your list with us, James!

James Crews' Summer Reading List


Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. Whether or not you loved Eat, Pray, Love, Gilbert's Big Magic is an incredibly practical guide for anyone striving to live a more creative life (especially while holding down a day-job). I have enjoyed reading a few of her short chapters before bed and waking refreshed, ready to face the blank page again each morning.


Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape by Lauret Savoy. Trace has been on my reading list for months, but I finally found the time this summer to delve into this complex yet gorgeously written exploration of race, identity, and landscape in America. Savoy masterfully weaves her own personal history with the natural history of our own often-troubled nation as she searches for evidence of her ancestors and meditates on name and place in America. Here is a sample from the book that feels especially timely:

"A wiser measure of the ecological footprint would include people, or at least their labor. It might factor in the losses of relationships with land or home, losses of self-determination, and losses of health or life. What if the footprint measured, over time, on whom and what the nation's foot has trod--that is, who has paid for prosperity?"

The World Is Round: Poems by Nikky Finney. Because I'm currently co-editing an anthology of environmental poetry by LGBTQIA writers entitled Queer Nature, I recently returned to the work of Nikky Finney and was thrilled to discover the compassion and fearlessness of the poems in The World Is Round. Many poetry readers will know Head Off & Split, Finney's National Book Award-winning collection, but the rest of her risky, unflinching body of work deserves more attention as well.