June 2022 Leisure Learning

by Melissa Haas
published in Reading

It’s summmmeeerrrrtiiiiiiiiiimmmmmeeeee and reading is breeeeezy.

I live in Pittsburgh and we are well into the dog days of summer. My paperbacks are acquiring the smell of sunscreen, chlorine, and just a hint of BBQ smoke. Summer reading is going well and I am finding myself replacing “just another episode” with “just a few more pages”—and I must say, it is divine!

If you’re not quite in that place, our very first selection is a BuzzFeed-style YouTube pick that will renew your passion for the written word and get you right back into cerebral action.

This month’s picks are largely a continuation of last month’s travel theme. With inflation and the price of gas constantly increasing, many families are opting out of vacations. However, with a book in hand, staycations have never looked better.   

Here is your June 2022 Leisure Learning List:

Bookstores: Reading Effectively in the Golden Age Content (40 minutes)

Do you want to read better-faster-more-books-to-fill-every-waking-moment so you can be assured you’ve consumed every single drop of life?

Yeah, me neither. I want to read meaningful works that weave themselves into my thoughts and give my brain something to chew on, lines that resonate with me and make passing strangers on the street seem a little bit more familiar because of what I’ve recently read.  

This Bookstores episode is a snappy BuzzFeed-style video that shows how much we’re on social media in terms of books…or should I say shelf life? It cajoles you into reading more and scrolling less, with an emphasis on quality, not quantity.  

Of course, that’s not all this 40-minute video reveals. Exotic bookstores are also profiled. You should definitely plan on some vicarious travel, where you might even add “library hotel” to your bucket list. Finally, get ready to hear an incredibly accomplished Lit professor deemed a #Baller.

Word nerds, these are our people.

(BTW, there is a smattering of swearing, so you may want to opt for air pods.)

Destination Reads

Find a place where you are going, or where you’ve always wanted go, and snag a book set in that city. Destination Reads features finer works of fiction set in Paris, Kyoto, Madrid as well as several other major cities spanning the globe. After all, guidebooks can only teach you so much. 

Destination Reads encourages readers to buy from local independent bookstores. Click here to see if your favorites are on the list or if there are any new ones you might need to venture out to.

If you’d prefer more extensive recommendations, head over to Tripfiction.com, where you can enter a destination and a lengthy list of options are returned. It should be noted that the book recommendations aren’t just thrown into a database because they are set there. I found the referrals to also be worthwhile in nature.

Finally, regardless of what site you choose as your literary travel agent, know that you won’t have to create an account and become a member just to use the pages. Both of these sites are great to browse on breaks while you’re waiting for the dentist or a little one to finish up lessons. All you have to do is think of a location and you will be provided with the material to absorb its essence, wherever you may be.

Nantucket (available on steam)

This is my kid-friendly selection of the month, although I will say it’s geared more towards middle and high school-aged kids than elementary school students. However, I do think a handful of the younger set would enjoy or at least like watching a sibling play this video game based on Melville’s Moby Dick!!

Yes, you read that correctly.

Remember the painstaking detail Melville used to illustrate the ins and outs of Pequod life? Well, now that it’s decades later, it’s time to put those terms into action.

Tell everyone to grab their harpoons, because the Golden Age of American Whaling can now be experienced by the whole family! On PC, you play as Ishmael a few years after Melville’s classic ends. Manage resources, find new sources of blubber, keep the pirates away and feel Ahab’s quest in your soul when you come face to face with the white whale himself. 

If you were ever a fan of Sid Meier’s Pirates!, this will take you back.  

Writing With Fire

“We don’t go into journalism to be popular. It is our job to seek the truth and put constant pressure on our leaders until we get answers,” longtime White House press correspondent Helen Thomas has been quoted as saying.

In 2002, India’s only all-female news organization, Khabar Lahariya (Making Waves), came into existence. Most of their staff is of the Dalit (untouchable) caste. Taken together, these facts make Khabar Lahariya the underdog of all underdog journalism teams.

Of course, they were expected to fail. As you’ll see in the film, some of their husbands are still waiting for that to happen. However, this Oscar-nominated documentary shows the staff getting smartphones as the paper pushes to go digital, even though some of the reporters live in homes without electricity.  

The Washington Post hailed Writing with Fire as “Perhaps the most inspiring journalism—maybe ever.” 

Using tech designed for English speakers (“…the ‘i’ is the stick with the dot…’), these women show remarkable commitment to capturing stories that will result in public action. They are just as much social workers as they are reporters. 

Finally, it must be said that these indomitable heroines are equally inspiring in their commitment to keep the idea of news as a means for social justice, not entertainment, alive.

Tell us in the comments: Which of these June 2022 Leisure Learning picks are you most excited to try?

Melissa Haas is the author and illustrator of Catula: The Misadventures of Dracula’s Cat and The Night Before Christmas (NOW WITH CATS), among others. Follow Catula’s whereabouts on Instagram @CatulaTheCat. If you’re interested in downloading free coloring pages or seeing Margaret Atwood with a blowtorch, check out more Leisure Learning related content at www.MelissaHaasCreates.com

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