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Staff Picks: 2009 Summer Reading!

For most of us, summer isn't exactly the three-month vacation we enjoyed as grade school students, but that doesn't mean we can't find time to curl up with a good book or two. The Cultural Alliance staff have compiled some of our favorite books from a variety of genres for your summer reading pleasure. Whether you're looking for a gripping novel for your trip down the shore, a moving memoir to enjoy in the park, or an innovative business book for your daily commute, we've got something for you!

For most of us, summer isn't exactly the three-month vacation we enjoyed as grade school students, but that doesn't mean we can't find time to curl up with a good book or two. The Cultural Alliance staff have compiled some of our favorite books from a variety of genres for your summer reading pleasure. Whether you're looking for a gripping novel for your trip down the shore, a moving memoir to enjoy in the park, or an innovative business book for your daily commute, we've got something for you!

View more summer reading picks on our Amazon page.

 

Susan Weiss, Vice President of Development

Making the Mummies Dance : Inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art
by Thomas Hoving

Former Met Director Thomas Hoving's dishy account of his tenure there from 1967-77.  Curatorial battles, New York society, board politics…it's all there. Publishers Weekly called it a "hectic, entertaining tour of a rarefied world."

Michelle White, Electronic Maketing Assistant

Concerning the Spiritual in Art
by Wassily Kandinsky

Originally written in German, Concerning the Spiritual in Art is philosophical, debatable, and thought-provoking. The piece begs you to dig deeper into your knowledge of art and challenges you to push the boundaries of your Art History knowledge.

Thomas Taylor, Operations Manager

Managing Technology to Meet Your Mission: A Strategic Guide for Nonprofit Leaders
Edited by Ross, Verclas, and Levine

This is the tech book for non-techies. It compiles concrete, how-to essays from practitioners throughout the sector. Starting with aligning information technology with your mission, and a non-techie's overview of IT and systems, and continuing on through budgeting, planning, and staffing, the book is full of great advice. Chapters on online communication, fundraising and engagement with your stakeholders address the issues many leaders are grappling with.

James Claiborne, Membership Services Coordinator

Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea: Poems and Not Quite Poems

For 30 years Nikki Giovanni has channeled her experiences and responses to American life into bluesy poetry that entwines the political and the personal and celebrates womanhood and black culture. Hers is an embracing, uplifting, and sustaining voice, one given to both anger and humor. In this collection of 50 new poems and "not quite poems," Giovanni pays sweet tribute to her grandmother, shares family stories, ponders a scary bout with cancer, and offers an unusual view of Harry Potter.

Alexis Pappas, Research Project Manager

White Teeth: A Novel
by Zadie Smith

I love this book. It mostly takes place in a gritty North London town back in the 70s and 80s and tackles all sorts of issues in a light and humorous manner such as generational differences, race, class, history, science, and gender politics.

John McInerney, Vice President of Marketing & Communications

Oh the Glory of It All
by Sean Wilsey

Former butter pat inventor takes over the DeYoung Museum, but it's really a story about a neglected, riduculously rich step son, a complete failure who ultimately redeems himself and is now the editor of McSweeney’s.

Donna Scheuerle, Executive Assistant

Brewing Up a Business: Adventures in Entrepreneurship
by Sam Calagione

This memoir by Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione is well written, with humor and insight into marketing, especially. Lots of musings about big vs. small business and finding your market niche.

Julie Hawkins, Vice President of Public Policy

The Lovely Bones
by Alice Sebold

Soon to be a movie, filmed locally. Set in Norristown, which makes it wonderfully familiar and (because of the subject matter), wonderfully creepy at the same time. You will recognize the locations when they’re described – it sounds like every neighborhood in this region. Tragic premise but a beautiful story.

Theresa DeAngelis, Web & Publications Manager

Same Difference
by Siobhan Vivan

Yes, it's a book written for teens, but don't rule it out too quickly. While I certainly reccomend it for the 13 - 18 set, I think adults, especially those with a love for the arts in Greater Philadelphia, will also enjoy Vivan's account of Emily, a young woman from New Jersey who experiences a transformative summer at an intensive art program at the University of the Arts. A sweet story about finding oneself as an artist – and a person.

Tom Kaiden, Chief Operating Officer

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time
by Greg Mortenson

Greg Mortenson's story of building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan is riveting and timely. He makes a commitment to return a favor to the mountain people who saved his life, and along the way takes on (and charms) warlords, bureaucrats, the CIA, the Taliban, and reluctant philanthropists. Inspiring adventure that shows that a man on a mission can truly change the world. Mortenson speaks here next April as part of the Philadelphia Speaker Series.

Peggy Amsterdam, President

The City of Falling Angels
by John Berendt

Author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil writes about the fire at the Fenice Opera House in Venice and the community’s challenge to rebuild it. Tales of local society fundraisers, residents and tourists that were passionate about re-building this cultural icon are interwoven with tales of historic and contemporary Venice. Anyone who has been, and gotten lost amid the canals will love this.

Kendra Lawton, Marketing & Events Manager

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia
by Elizabeth Gilbert

If you're unable to take your dream vacation this summer, but still looking for a journey, then this book is for you. Eat, Pray, Love is a spiritual discovery full of humor, heart, and honesty. Gilbert embarks on a yearlong trip of recovery, with three main stops: Rome, for pleasure; Mumbai, for spiritual searching; and Bali, for balance. So sit back, grab some gelato, and enjoy the ride.