Books on the beach
Who says summer beach reads can't educate while they entertain? Try some of these offerings from UCI professors. Steve Zylius / UC Irvine

Do you plan to spend this summer with your toes in the sand and your nose in a book? Great! But instead of the usual frothy paperbacks, tuck something worthwhile into your beach bag. The following works by UC Irvine authors will both entertain and inform shorebound readers looking for literary depth.

Pop L.A.: Art & the City in the 1960s

by Cecile Whiting, professor of art history

The David Hockney cover image of two nude men lounging in an azure swimming pool sets the tone for this book, which explores pop art’s shift from the highbrow world of Manhattan art galleries to the sprawling, sunny suburbs of Los Angeles. Pop L.A. recounts how artists such as Hockney, Claes Oldenburg and Ed Ruscha transformed the image of the city in works that focused on the ocean and landscape, suburban life, dilapidated houses in aging neighborhoods, streets and parking lots, and public buildings such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Manifest Injustice: The True Story of a Convicted Murderer & the Lawyers Who Fought for His Freedom

by Barry Siegel, professor of English and director of UCI’s literary journalism program

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Siegel takes on the tale of Bill Macumber, a model citizen, military veteran and father who was convicted in the 1962 murder of a young couple in Scottsdale, Ariz., and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Siegel’s meticulous reporting on the case reveals contradictions and missteps by investigators that point to a lack of concrete evidence against Macumber. This is a must-read for fans of true crime and a revelatory look at the U.S.’s imperfect justice system.

The World’s Richest Indian: The Scandal Over Jackson Barnett’s Oil Fortune

by Tanis Thorne, history lecturer and director of UCI’s Native American studies program

Thorne’s book tells the fascinating and little-known story of Jackson Barnett, a member of the Creek Nation, who became wealthy from oil found on his property in 1912. Known as “the world’s richest Indian,” Barnett battled the state of Oklahoma, the Baptist Church and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs for control of his fortune. Litigation over Barnett’s wealth lasted two decades and prompted Congress to make long-overdue reforms in its policies toward Native Americans. Writer and historian Mike Davis called the book “an astounding tale, brilliantly told, of one man’s simple dignity caught up in a hurricane of greed and chicanery.”

Assholes: A Theory

by Aaron James, professor of philosophy

Obnoxious people are everywhere – at work, on the road, at family gatherings and in the public sphere – and this book comes to the rescue with tips on how to manage and understand this personality type. The current era of narcissism and unbridled capitalism creates a perfect playground for such individuals, James says, and he tells readers when to challenge them and when to ignore them. Author and screenwriter Nick Hornby says, “James’ keen intelligence overwhelms you, and you realize that Assholes is helpful, stimulating and very timely.”

Aloha America: Hula Circuits Through the U.S. Empire

by Adria Imada, associate professor of history

Born and raised in Hawaii, Imada unravels the complications of dance and politics in contemporary hula as well as earlier practices. She demonstrates that hula performers are – and always have been – highly aware of how they interact with capitalism, colonization and decolonization. The book also explores little-known facets of hula, such as the role played by mahu (transgender) dancers. Prior to Western contact, men had privileged access to hula and were the principal chanters, drummers and performers. When the troupes began to tour in the late 19th century, however, there was a distinct European and American preference for viewing the bodies of Hawaiian women. Imada’s book gives readers a more sophisticated and nuanced perspective on this traditional Hawaiian art.

All titles are available online and at The Hill, UCI’s campus bookstore. Enjoy and have a safe and intellectually stimulating summer.