It is common knowledge that the combination of experiential learning and critical insight is among the best ways to cull wisdom from experience and produce intelligent fodder for your diary. Below is a list of summer field trips and their required reading —a host of events and the texts that make summer fun all the more meaningful.
Free Comic Book Day
On Saturday, May 7, 2016's Free Comic Book Day kicks off. Celebrants include Astro-Zombies, Don's Paperback Books, Lobo Anime & Comics, The Comic Warehouse, Old West Comics and Games, and Hastings. Thousands of comics will be available for free, cosplay will inevitably happen and comic nerds will be nerding out.
Monstress by Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda
In an alternate Asia where matriarchy is the norm and magical creatures war with human sorceresses, the shape-shifting character of Maika sets out to avenge her mother's death and learn about her own origins. The story translates to much more than a magical fantasy—it is a work about racism, war and womanhood and among the best comics currently being produced.
Malcolm X Day Festival
Historically, Malcolm X Day is celebrated on May 19—his birthday—or the third Sunday in May. In a typically quirky twist, celebrants will gather on Saturday, May 21, at Thomas Bell Park to honor and celebrate one of the civil rights movement's most inspiring leaders.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
Duh. The chronicle of an incredible life written by the man who lived it. Experience is shot through with insight. History untethered from the textbooks, rendered more powerful by a brilliant thinker.
GMO-Free New Mexico is hosting their second annual Bees + Seeds Festival at Tractor Brewing in Wells Park. There'll be eco-friendly vendors, food trucks, muralists and other artists hard at work as well as professional beekeepers on hand and free tomato, basil and chile plants for all courtesy of Red Tractor Farm.
Adventures in the Anthropocene by Gaia Vince
The former news editor of Nature left her work at the magazine to explore the world and discover the ways in which people were dealing with climate change and a rapidly changing planet. What she found were people across cultures and continents ingeniously and beautifully managing their worlds—from a man in Nepal making artificial glaciers to another in the Caribbean creating islands out of trash.
Story slams, workshops, open mics and more, Taos' poetry festival spans a weekend, but will have lasting resonance. Featured poets include Ocean Vuong, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, Nathan Brown, Sabina Jones and Alyia Martinson. Not to mention the festival provides an excuse to seek refuge from summer heat in the high mountains.
Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong
“An American soldier fucked a Vietnamese farmgirl. Thus my mother exists/ Thus I exist. Thus no bombs = no family = no me,” writes Vuong in “Notebook Fragments” a few lines down, “Yikes.” Vuong learned to read English at age 11 and described the language as a “destination” he was eager to reach. His first full-length collection isn't about that journey, it’s a revelation of the agility and power of language.
Heading East on Central from Girard, this annual celebration of the LGBTQI community kicks off at 10am on the Saturday of Pride week. Ever joyous, always fun, this parade is never to be missed.
Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg
Feinberg was a lot of things. She identified as female, lesbian, anti-racist, an activist and a revolutionary communist. Her book explores growing up gay and radical in the pre-Stonewall Riots era. A book and a writer that doesn't need any qualifying adjectives, this is required reading for all.
A seismic tilt, a massive gesture of summer. The sun is at its highest and the days now begin to get steadily shorter—it’s the pinnacle of summer bliss and the omega too, all bound up in a single cosmic event. Historically, witches were thought to meet with powerful otherworldly beings on this day and bonfires were lit to protect people from evil spirits. Whether you're a witch or a norm, celebrate as you will.
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
A retelling of the famous King Arthur legend through the eyes of the too often maligned Morgana le Fay. There's enough magic, sex and goddess worship to keep this book thrilling for 800+ pages. Seriously, I read it in like, one week in eighth grade. It was a revelation.
June 30-July 3
Roswell UFO Festival
This year's celebration of all things extraterrestrial is on track to be bigger than ever. A light parade, 10k, alien costume contest and an intergalactic carnival are sure to impress even the skeptics among us.
Contact by Carl Sagan
New Mexican landscapes, mysterious communiqués from a distant star, the poetic language of Carl Sagan. This was an obvious choice.
Welcome Carlsbad Caverns' returning population of Brazilian free-tailed bats at this once-a-year event. Have breakfast at daybreak as the bats return to their roosts for the daylight hours and continue the celebration all day long with more bat-centric activities and talks.
Blind Descent by James M. Tabor
Chronicling two explorers' attempts to plumb the deepest caves in the world, this account of “supercaving” literally gave me a panic attack while reading. Did you know that caves breathe? Did you know there's a syndrome called “the rapture”—an extreme reaction to darkness and depth? Garner a new appreciation of caves and their inhabitants by reading this Krakauer-level bit of non-fiction.