Summer Vacation Reading in the Midst of a Pandemic

Because of the times we’re facing, many of us will have more room in our schedules for reading this summer than we normally do. Stay-at-home orders, social distancing requirements, and the financial hit many of us are weathering because of COVID-19 will mean that stay-cations will be more common than activity-crammed vacations.

When people think of summer reading choices, beach reads—fun, light novels filled with adventure, drama, and romance that don’t require a whole lot of concentration—often come to mind.

But my choice for summer vacation reads are memoirs, in particular, celebrity memoirs. One of the best ways for me to take my mind off of my life and the troubles of the world is to slip into someone else’s shoes in a literary sense, especially if they’re rich and famous. Here are some of my favorites.

Mindy Kaling—Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Mindy Kaling is a highly talented actor, writer, producer, and director. She wrote and stars in the film Late Night, which I thought was excellent, and is currently at work on a collection of essays coming to Amazon Original Stories in summer 2020. I adored her memoir, her humor, and self-deprecating way which made me feel comfortable, as if I could call her up to meet me at a favorite coffee shop for a cup of cocoa.

David Ortiz—Papi: My Story

This former professional baseball designated hitter and first baseman played season after season of Major League Baseball, primarily with the Boston Red Sox. In this memoir, Ortiz, my favorite baseball player, tells his tale: growing up poor in the Dominican Republic, struggling through the minor leagues in an unfamiliar country, and ultimately finding success as a late-inning hero for the Boston Red Sox.

Bobby Brown–Every Little Step

I was in the library a few months ago to make copies of a document and came across this memoir on display, walked past it, then went back and decided to check it out. I’ve always liked Bobby Brown’s music—he’s a talented and hard-working singer, songwriter, rapper, dancer, and actor—but not the stories in the media about his antics, vices, and life decisions. In his memoir, he tells it all, the good, the bad, the ugly and everything in between.

Kate Mulgrew—How to Forget: A Daughter’s Memoir

Kate Mulgrew is one of the most versatile actresses in the entertainment world. She’s done film, television, theater, and has won top awards in those areas. She gives a chilling performance as an inmate in the TV show Orange is the New Black and is also well known for her role on Star Trek: Voyager. I found her memoir, about returning home to care for her ailing parents, poignant and touching.

Harry Belafonte—My Song: A Memoir of Art, Race, and Defiance

Growing up, I enjoyed watching this talented performer and activist’s on television and in old movies shown on television. He’s closer to my parents’ generation than mine, so he was someone I enjoyed watching with them. I didn’t know a whole lot about his life until I read this memoir. This very personal account reveals Harry Belafonte as not only one of America’s greatest entertainers, but also one of our most profoundly influential activists.

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Lisa Braxton

Lisa Braxton is an Emmy-nominated former television journalist, an essayist, short story writer, and novelist. Her debut novel, The Talking Drum, is forthcoming from Inanna Publications in spring 2020. She is a fellow of the Kimbilio Fiction Writers Program and a book reviewer for 2040 Review. Her stories and essays have appeared in literary magazines and journals. She received Honorable Mention in Writer’s Digest magazine’s 84th and 86th annual writing contests in the inspirational essay category. Her website: www.lisabraxton.com