Hot Girl Summer Reading List

Being a Hot Girl is about being
 unapologetically YOU, 
having fun, 
being confident,
living in YOUR truth,
being the life of the party etc...
—Megan the Stallion 

One of my favorite new rappers is Megan the Stallion. Not just because she spits better than most but because she is a scholar, just like me. 

As much as I love her music, I love her visible commitment to self-education and women empowerment. When she called on us to join the “Hot Girl Summer” wave, she gave us permission to be “unapologetically” free AF. For me, this summer has been all traveling, all reading, all day, everyday. I’ve had to complete so much reading for my doctorate and grant-writing for the non-profits I work with. Its been a task in itself to truly be free because in addition to reading and writing, Ive been putting in summer hours at various professional development sessions around the world—but I have a responsibility to admit that this is probably harder than it needs to be for me because I procrastinate way too much AND I suffer from imposture syndrome, a very common combination of demons that many women deal with, daily. If they’re like me, they doubt their professional abilities despite all of the training that deems them overqualified, they question how they got in the position they are in, and really believe they cannot complete projects that are challenging. They love growth but they fear failure like most folks fear death.

Learning how to read like a scholar doesn’t sound like it would be a challenge for me, someone who is a teacher of literacy and loves reading, but it is because I put so much pressure on myself to be right. I hate feeling wrong (in life and academically but we will stick with academics for this conversation). I empathized with my students who struggle with reading because when I don’t understand all of the words and ideas that I am reading, all mental hell breaks loose and I try to give up. Only, my inner hot girl never allows it! 

This is Valencia the Dragon, the night before last. Natural hair and no bra. She finished all of her work and had time to go out with her man!

I spent weeks fighting her in the form of not starting assignments when I had extra time to, waiting until the last minute to complete work that I thought I would never be able to get done—but I got it done, every time. Being that she won every time, I finally named her: Valencia the Dragon. She’s like a stallion, only she breathes fire and flies above my bs fears. She has me to the point where I stopped beating myself up about being afraid to admit that I am a slow reader and embraced my individual work habits as part of my learning process. 

I’m not a fan of the term slow because learning is not a race but really, I need time to digest content in order to truly form my own level understanding. I have to chunk the text, I have to look up the words I don’t know, and I have to take break in between understanding. Sometimes these breaks are just for a snack, while others are to completely rearrange my apartment for the 5th time in 5 days! But this summer, I learned, before I could begin reading I had to meditate and see myself finishing. Channeling that dragon to put flames to my insecurities and tears. 

It’s not that I can’t do this, it’s that I do it differently than I was taught. I didn’t always know how to articulate that, not even when I became a teacher. When I was a kid, I cannot remember anyone being celebrated for being different than everyone else. We all had the same everything and were ranked by how well we did everything. But where I come from really does not matter as much as where I am, today. Today, I know can do anything, as long as I have my own equitable way of getting it done. 

Advocating for my own needs as an adult learner just seemed like making excuses, until I realized that I have the right to be unapologetically me with obtaining my education. I didn’t realize this on my own. Took lots of affirmations from other intellectuals who showed me that there is absolutely nothing wrong with me and that I deserve to be in any room and at any table that I have been invited to because of my passion and my experiences. No matter how long I need to give myself to sit down and complete a single task, my perspective is highly valued and my need for time is respectable. 

On my way there, I am going to be sharing my reflections here because openly reflecting is part of my process, even if no one reads or responds, it helps to be expressive. But maybe there is someone out there thinking about taking on a dream and telling themselves they aren’t worthy of that dream. So often, we are the only ones in our own way. Hopefully, my process is a greenlight for you to go-all-the-way!

Here are some of the books that I have sorted into cute piles around my apartment. My routine is reading for 5 hours on a week day and 8 hours on the weekends. So far it’s going okay. I still procrastinate more than I would like to but it’s not as bad as it was just a few weeks ago. Research shows procrastination is one of the hardest habits to break but with my alter ego Valencia the Dragon, my lo-fi playlist, and breathing breaks filled with repetitive chants of self-compassion, I am coming along just fine. I am feeling good. 

These books are part of my personal reading list. Most have themes pertaining to identity and finding your voice. 
 Some historical, some memoir, some fiction. 
Zoom in to see the titles and authors. 

These are to help remain grounded as a researcher. Becoming a critical race theorist requires me to understand the history of the field as well as the most recent contributing ideas to the discourse around urban-American education. Though, I should note that I’m not sure if I want to be a critical race theorist. I’m actually interested in learning more about how to use appreciative inquiry as a framework for my research, instead. We’ll see!

These are novels that I need to read before the school year begins so that I can find excerpts that may supplement my district curriculum. 

These are pedagogical books that I am reading as part of my research—but they are not required. I ordered them on my own, with the exception of “Make it Stick” which was assigned by my professors. Most of the others were ordered before I got accepted into the program but a few of them are titles I found out about a few weeks ago. The more I ask questions, the more books I find... You may ask, why am I giving myself more work, especially if I read slowly. It’s because I’m trying to understand what’s out there that I have not heard of, yet. That way, I don’t go into my program with no knowledge of what’s already working. It will take me longer but that’s okay because it doesn’t matter where you start, it’s how you finish. I know a year from now, I’ll be a better reader than I am today. Better reader meaning, less procrastinating, comprehending and completing texts faster, and knowing vocabulary words that I normally have to stop and define before reading further. 

These are 4 of the 9 books my cohort was assigned by our professors for summer reading!

So as you can see, very heavy load but I can and will manage. I’m here now, no turning back, not even if I wanted to! I want this. I have to work hard and timely. Besides, I can’t help my students overcome if I can’t do it for myself, first. Certainly cannot lead my peers from a place of limited thinking if I am limiting myself. We all have to go beyond our comfort zones. Just remember, you can’t be a hot girl or a hot boy if you’re not kind to yourself as you journey. 

ps: if you see me out at and event and I’m on my phone, I promise you, I’m reading! My iBooks has become my best friend!! I’m constantly adding articles to read while I’m out and about. A little introverted but that’s nothing new for me. 

But you’ll more than likely see me in the grass under a tree lying next to my bike and my books. 


  1. Thank you so much for this sis, i felt every word you wrote i struggle with feel like im not good enough when i know that i am. i am also a procrastinator as well and i believe that goes hang and hand with feeling unworthy. You truly inspire me with your honesty and many words of encouragement for yourself and to others.

    Thank you

    And i cant wait to add some of these books to my Hot girl Summer Reading list


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