Summer Reading 2018

About a year ago I published a list of books that I’d laid aside for reading in the summer of 2017. This summer I’m not likely to have much time to read anything not immediately relevant to my two big projects–a book on the Aeneid and preparing for a graduate seminar on the Hippocratic Corpus that I may be teaching next spring–but here’s what I have stacked up for my down time.

(It’s worth asking, parenthetically, why a retired teacher has “summer reading,” or indeed summers at all.  Surely, like the Dowager Countess of Grantham asking “What is a week end?” I should be able to live without any notion of an annual academic hiatus.  I can only suggest that 42 years of teaching, not to mention 18 years as a student, leaves one with a indelibly impressed sense of academic time.  And as the above paragraph suggests, I’m not entirely finished with academic work.)

  • Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent.  Colm Toíbín’s New York Review of Books piece on Conrad made me regret that Conrad was on the long list of major English novelists that I haven’t read, or read much.
  • Martha Nussbaum, Poetic Justice: The Literary Imagination and Public Life.
  • Armand Marie Leroi, The Lagoon: How Aristotle Invented Science–possibly relevant to the Hippocratic seminar, but not enough to count as professional reading.
  • Paul Cronin, ed. A Time to Stir: Columbia ’68.  It’s been 50 years, and I was there.
  • The Odyssey, tr. Emily Wilson.  I think it’s on every classicist’s list this year.  I’m less impressed by the fact that Wilson is the first woman to translate the Odyssey than by the bits I’ve read in reviews of the translation itself.
  • Bernard Chaet, The Art of Drawing.  I picked this one up from the used book shelf in the library at PAFA and read through it.  It’s the best book about drawing that I’ve ever come across, and this summer I’m going to try to work through it.

If you’re wondering about the order of the list, it’s in reverse order of stacking: duodecimo Conrad to quarto Art of Drawing.  I’ll try to update this post with reactions as I move through the stack, and I’ll welcome comment from those who have, or have had, the same books on their lists.