OK, so perhaps I’ll also find time to tune up the banjo, guitar and ukulele, restring the old autoharp I bought a little while ago, and track down the old songbooks with “Newspapermen Meet Such Interesting People” and maybe “Jimmy Brown the Newsboy.”
But my reading list is already growing like mad, with everything from Appalachian murder ballads to a zombie apocalypse.
What do they all have in common?
Newspapers and journalism, of course. By August I’ll have expanded my list of possible readings (Books: The Truth with a Dragon Tattoo) for students enrolled in my fall course, “Portrayal of the Journalist in Film, Fiction and Popular Culture.”
I’ve already had interlibrary loan get me a microfilm copy of a rare “boy’s book” about a teenage news photographer, by Mildred Wirt Benson, creator of the Nancy Drew series. I’ve already read a couple of her Penny Parker books about a teenage girl reporter (Benson, a reporter, liked Penny better than Nancy), and I’m curious to see why the photographer series didn’t, er, develop.
The more adult items on my own summer reading list right now are Alchemy of Murder, The Devil Amongst the Lawyers, Anna Zenger and maybe Mira Grant’s “Newsflesh” series, although I’m not sure I want to be tempted into a zombie trilogy (Feed, Deadline, Countdown) — even one with that bloody RSS-feed icon on the right as one of its book covers. Come to think of it, I lost a chunk of last summer to a trilogy-plus-one that featured Nellie Bly and Sherlock Holmes on a trail of bloody murders with echoes of Dracula and Jack the Ripper.
For a dose of reality and inspiration, I’ve ordered real-life newspaper hero Philip Meyer’s autobiography, Paper Route.
I’m also intrigued by The Daily Edge pages and videos promoting Richard Hine’s Russell Wiley Is Out to Lunch, but I’d rather read about reporters solving crimes or chasing zombies than try to find a barrel of laughs over Dilbert-style business-consultant nitwits and clueless publishers destroying the newspaper business. (Actually, what alerted me to the book was when Hine followed me @bobstep on Twitter, and I noticed his profile line “I wrote a novel about zombie newspapers in the age of vampire social media.”)
That’s enough for now. I’m keeping the list on its own page at JHeroes.com, which in the fall may double as a discussion page for the course. Visitors welcome!