As I eagerly await a week’s vacation in just 12 days on the beach of glorious Cape May, I’ve begun to sift through the pile of books that are stacking up on the bedside table and deciding which ones take the trip with me.
President Obama is reportedly going to read “a pile of books” while on vacation over the next two weeks. I don’t know how much of a dent I’ll make in this stack (I have only one week), but thought it would be fun to share what is demanding my attention, and thinking readers might be surprised at what titles interest a career arts administrator. And yes, there’s at least one arts-related book in the bunch. …Okay, maybe three.
Ann Marie Miller’s Summer Reading List:
How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper
By Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson
This one is all about how government matters and having worked for it for over 10 years and studied it for decades since, I’m looking forward to a read that is a counterpunch to government bashing, and instead offers hope for a progressive future that has populist appeal.
2)They Told Me Not to Take That Job
Tumult, Betrayal, Heroics, and the Transformation of Lincoln Center
By Reynold Levy
Having heard Mr. Levy speak about this book and his career at Grounds for Sculpture earlier this year, this title promises the combination of inside baseball along with insight into the fundraising challenges of one of our nation’s preeminent cultural institutions. Mr. Levy was an engaging speaker, so this book holds great promise as a pageturner.
By Ta-Nehisi Coates
Because I just have to. Period.
From Brooklyn And Jazz To Nixon’s White House, Watergate, And Beyond
By Leonard Garment
I’ve begun this book that was recommended by a colleague and is being shared with another and it’s written so well that I’m curious to learn more about how a son of Brooklyn immigrants, who crossed paths with many jazz greats, became chief counsel to Richard Nixon. Since the National Endowment for the Arts saw such remarkable progress with appointee Nancy Hanks at the head during the Nixon administration, I’m curious about the connections that are inevitable.
By Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
Wait for it (sorry, couldn’t help myself). This has become my go-to book when I get depressed or just plain tired. It is such a well written “behind the scenes” account of the extraordinary musical I had the privilege of seeing twice. The reference footnotes by Lin-Manuel are priceless and besides the compelling narrative, the book is just plain beautiful with its Revolutionary era feel. It’s coming with me to Cape May and my earphones will play the soundtrack as background music on the beach.
There’s more, but remember I only have one week. If time wasn’t an issue, here’s what else I’d bring:
M Train by Patti Smith is a Christmas gift from a colleague I’ve yet to tackle, but loved Just Friends so much and this Jersey girl can write not only songs and lyrics.
I was fortunate enough to get my copy of United signed by the Senator at Rutgers University early this year when he launched his book tour and enjoyed the conversation he had with fellow Jerseyan Bobbi Brown at the Eagleton Institute where he touched on many of the chapters that spoke of his roots in Harrington Park and Newark. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson was a Booker Book Club recommendation in June when the Senator joined the author in a live Facebook Q&A. As many already know mass incarceration is one of Senator Booker’s priority issues, and having read a sample on ibooks, this title is not only revealing but emotionally charged as it tells the stories of death row inmates and the author’s role as an activist lawyer and co-founder of the Equal Justice Initiative.
Heavy reading? Maybe, but it is important to keep informed and maintain not only a broad perspective of current events, but a steady grip on public policy and because back at work after vacation the job is revealing how arts and culture tie into it all, because the arts aren’t only about paintings and plays and dance, but about ALL the things that matter in life.
And don’t forget Lin-Manuel Miranda read Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow on vacation about six years ago, and look where that lead!
Ann Marie Miller is the Director of Advocacy and Public Policy at ArtPride New Jersey and a regular contributor to the Dodge Blog. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to visit ArtPride’s website.