Scholarly page-turners to get you through the holidays
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Dear <<FIRST NAME>>,

The end-of-the-year break presents a conundrum for scholars, doesn't it? All we want is a breather, and yet we feel guilty if we aren't focusing on work.

We can resolve these competing desires—which plague every holiday season, year after year—by reading academic books. Read them not for the information, but for the experience.

It's true what they say: the absolute best way to improve writing skills and strengthen authorial voice is to make a habit of letting oneself be immersed in the pleasure of reading at a high level.

Often, however, we gravitate to the books in our own subfields, and we default to "research mode"—scanning for data rather than delighting in how stories unfold. From an artistry standpoint, the books directly related to our specific topics of study may not be the best written, either. Of course, there's a reason we gravitate to those kinds of very specialized, relevant books: we're aware of them!

If we want to find titles that are maybe a little further afield but are strong compositions, where do we turn?

I have a suggestion: the year's best university press books, as selected by the American Library Association. These volumes are both rigorous and compelling. However specialized, they manage also to speak to a reading audience outside the ivied walls.

Look at the disciplinary areas germane to your own. Choose a book or two, and get lost in the prose. Let the euphonic sentences seep into your subconscious. 

You'll be enjoying yourself, you'll be learning, and you'll be working on your craft—all at the same time.

Happy holidays from Tweed Editing!

P.S. You might also take a look at the 2015 reading suggestions from the Society for Scholarly Publishing (a two-part post). The selections aren't all academic, but many are, and the recommenders are major players in the book and journal business.

P.P.S. Do you study meaning-making? It's the stuff of culture. And it's the topic that will be under discussion at the Institute for Signifying Scriptures's first annual two-day meeting of the minds. Join me—and dozens of other scholars from all kinds of fields—in Portland, Oregon, in February. 

So that you can focus on your research, I keep up with the scholarly web and promise to share with you only the richest, most catalyzing links.

"Editing for Relevance": This short op-ed I wrote for the Scripps College alumnae magazine reveals something of my editorial disposition. The background here is a year of crucial conversations about transgender admissions at women's colleges around the country. See page 54 (or 59, on the PDF) for my piece.

On ISIL's Opposition to Yazidi Reading Practices: One of the most-read stories from the New York Times this year was "ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape," which looks at the militant group's sickening use of sex slavery. In this short piece, I respond not just to the article but also to Vincent L. Wimbush's reading of it.
JSTOR's New Research Tool: I honestly don't know how finding relevant scholarship could be more fun, or easier, than taking a picture with a smartphone and letting JSTOR pull up articles on the same topic.

Do You Have a Personal Academic Brand? Scholars do need to think about their own PR. Dorie Clark teaches at Duke, writes for the Harvard Business Review blog, is a former Robert Reich and Howard Dean strategist, and cares about how professors market themselves. Here's a podcast where she talks all about how you can set yourself apart.

Get Out of Your Title Rut: There are so many ways to name a piece of scholarship. Why default to the same formula ("Pun: Bland Description") every time? Here, Inger Mewburn of the Australian National University runs through many, many paradigms for titling journal articles.

Seven Secrets of Stylish Academic Writers: Read this, and then read Helen Sword's entire book on the subject. We are talking dead-on advice here.

If you want more links in real time, be sure to follow Tweed on Twitter.

Copyright © 2015 Tweed Editing, All rights reserved.

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