IN ANY SEASON
-- by Dr. Hayes-Bohanan
As I have written on my "Writing Tips" page, "Good writing is the best evidence of clear thinking. It is also hard work." Good writing is not just the avoidance of grammar and style errors, though this is important, and a long list of examples was the first resource for students that I put online, in the 1990s.
Another section of my writing pages provides broader suggestions for becoming a better writer, which can be reduced to one word: READ. Late last year, I shared a short video of the venerable Rep. John Lewis, who shares exactly that admonition with all who will listen, as he knows it is both a benefit of and a prerequisite for liberty: JUST READ.
This post is in response to a general observation as I reach writing-intensive courses. A lot of our geography majors are, sadly, not avid readers. This is revealed by limitations of vocabulary and sentence structure that have only one cure: READING.
As the semester winds down, I want to encourage our majors -- and our alumni and other friends of geography -- to do some serious, geography-related reading this summer. In addition to the suggestions above, this is inspired by a list of a baker's dozen geography titles from the article 13 Books About the Influence of Geography in Our Everyday Lives, which appeared recently on Signature, a web site that promotes reading as a tool of informed citizenry by posting short lists of good books on important topics.
I have read a few of these and have put them all on my Goodreads list, where I will add reviews as I complete some of them over the summer. (That list already includes my reviews of about 20 other books.) In other words, I'm issuing myself the same challenge I'm giving to our students: READ!
I like this list from Signature because it is eclectic and the books included reinforce a basic idea that all geographers know: Place Matters. As I am certain some of my reviews will mention -- based on what I know so far of a few of the titles -- a few of the books stray a bit farther into the environmental determinism camp than I am comfortable with. But reading disparate ideas about place and causation makes us better geographers, so I will be reading from all parts of this list.
In addition to all of the recommendations above, I strongly encourage geographers to explore the book suggestions included in my favorite librarian's Celebrating the States blog. She spent 2010 honoring each of the 50 United States (plus some territories) by reading a book, watching a film, and preparing some food related to that state. I read a few of the books with her, watched most of the films, and helped to eat and/or prepare most of the food. Among the 50-plus titles she lists will be something for every geographer.