August. Even the newest D.C. residents know it might be the best time to switch the smartphone to silent and head out of town to cooler and less-humid places, preferably with beaches. (Mountains work too.)
Much has been written about why taking vacation can make you a better employee; You leave the grind for a few days and come back well rested, more clear headed, able to be more creative, thoughtful and productive.
August is prime vacation time for Capitol Hill staff and those whose work is connected to Capitol Hill. Weeks stretch by without a day in session. (You have until Sept. 9!) Even Roll Call will enjoy a modified publishing schedule. (Though never fear, Hill Navigator will continue with its weekly column online.)
One of the best ways to spend vacation? Reading. Even the adventure-seekers or bar-hoppers are likely to have some downtime by the pool or some hours to kill waiting for that Southwest flight to take off. Hill Navigator has compiled a list of summer reading suggestions, all with a workplace-dynamics theme. The following books are great reads on their own, and even better reads for people who want to return in September with a better understanding and extra vigor to tackle their day jobs.
For the long read: “Wolf Hall” by Hilary Mantel. One of the most capricious and unforgiving bosses in history, this is Henry the VIII’s story told through the lens of his most trusted staffer, Thomas Cromwell. Think overly ambitious member of Congress and their eager-to-please chief of staff. Cromwell’s demise won’t come until the third book in the series, “The Mirror and the Light,” due out at an unspecified date (some authors are afforded the luxury of time). But both “Wolf Hall” and its sequel, “Bring Up the Bodies,” give one of the best views through historical fiction on how one controls the grip on power, however tenuous or illusory it may be.
For the iPhone Web surfer:
Philip Galanes’ Social Qs . It is worth reading all the back issues of the The New York Times columns on how to ace any situation, any time, especially when others’ feelings are involved. If you enjoy advice columns, this is the one of the best out there.
For the beach read: “American Wife” by Curtis Sittenfeld. Also known as the unauthorized, fictitious biography of the Bushes, complete with some sympathetic staffers in their milieu. This will be of particular interest to those watching the Democratic Senate primary in Ohio, where Sittenfeld’s younger brother P.G. Sittenfeld is challenging former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland for the nomination.
For the “always improving”: If you’re one of those who creates Google Docs for vacation weeks, “Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time” by Brigid Schulte is a great read about the need to unwind, and why you’ll be a better, smarter, happier, productive person because of it . It helps that Schulte lives and works in the D.C. area, with advice that speaks directly to the D.C. work culture .
For the Hill aficionado: Perhaps you’re that ambitious Hill staffer who wants to read more about Capitol Hill, even when you’re soaking up rays elsewhere? If so, here are a handful of longer (and less policy-heavy) reads from the Roll Call team that Hill Navigator recommends. Enjoy.
— “Capitol Hill Helps One of Its Own: Chip Kennett Finds Help in Unexpected Places.” Before Kennett lost his battle with lung cancer at age 34, this former Senate staffer spent the two years after his diagnosis advocating for cancer research and funding.
— Eating out this August? Hit up some of the great new restaurants and be sure to know “How to Ace the Business Lunch.” And maybe give the House cafeterias another spin in “Farewell My Indigestion, Bidding Adieu to Restaurant Associates,” before vendors complete their transition to Sodexo.
— Best friend or body man? Roll Call’s Kyle Trygstad tells the story of Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and his executive assistant, Luke Jackson, in “Life as Jon Tester’s Executive Assistant.” Between the two of them, they have 14 fingers and one heck of a rapport.
— Are you an intern, thinking about interning, or know someone who is? Then read up on Roll Call’s “Ultimate Capitol Hill Internship Guide,” and possibly land a paying job too!
— Think August is the right time to wait in line for those coveted Georgetown Cupcakes ? Roll Call editor Jason Dick has your cheat sheet on how to come prepared with “Georgetown Cupcake; or, the Wait.”
Did we miss one? Send any great reading which features workplace dynamics to firstname.lastname@example.org.