When summer comes I like to:
- Head to a cool body of water, preferably with a beach.
- Visit my children, grandchildren or other far-flung relatives.
- Hole up in a remote cottage.
- Cross the ocean to explore a foreign land.
Regardless of your answer, you certainly should consider taking along a book or two to keep you company during the longer, warmer days and nights. School-age children have summer reading lists, so why not adults?
“Summer: the season for cracking open a good book under the shade of a tree. Warning: not all of these books can be classified as beach reads. And we think that is a good thing,” TED blogger Kate Torgovnich May writes.
TED Talks made its name by posting short videos online from an eclectic and international mix of intelligent, creative and visionary men and women. A couple years ago, blogger Kate asked nine of them to recommend books for a summer reading list.
Here are three books from a list of 70:
- “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius, recommended by author Elizabeth Gilbert, who writes, “I find something incredibly soothing about the notion of a 2nd-century Roman emperor worrying about the same stuff I worry about—namely, how are we to be? What makes a good person? What is honor? How do we endure disappointment? How do we find peace within chaos? He does not necessarily always have the answers, but the stubbornness of these eternal inquiries always calms me down.”
- “The Man Who Fed the World” by Leon Hesser, recommended by technologist/philanthropist Bill Gates, who writes, “Norman Borlaug is one of my heroes, and Leon Hesser’s biography is a fascinating account of Borlaug’s life and accomplishments. This is a story of genius, self-sacrifice, and determination. Borlaug was a remarkable scientist and humanitarian whose work in agriculture is rightfully credited with saving the lives of over a billion people.”
- “Leaving the Sea: Stories,” by Ben Marcus, recommended by Uzoamaka Maduka, founder of The American Reader, who writes, “Ben Marcus is the contemporary American master of the short story. His latest collection contains rare, gem-like fables that are at once disquieting and luminous. You do not know the possibilities, oddities and mysteries of our American language until you experience it in fiction of this caliber and ambition.”
NPR Listeners Weigh In
Almost 16,000 National Public Radio listeners voted in the Best Beach Books Ever poll in 2009, and came up with a list of 100 books that include classics such as “Pride and Prejudice,” by Jane Austen, “Gone with the Wind,” by Margaret Mitchell and “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy.
Less known and more contemporary books include “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café,” by Fannie Flagg, “The Red Tent,” by Anita Diamant and “She’s Come Undone,” by Wally Lamb. He was on the list for more than one book, along with Barbara Kingsolver, Ernest Hemingway, Kurt Vonnegut and Stephen King.
Number one on the list? The “Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling.
The Washington Post list is more current. Entitled “37 Books We’ve Loved So Far in 2016,” the list includes:
- Daniel Oppenheimer’s political book “Exit Right,” the stories of six liberal politicians and journalists who swung to the right;
- “The Girls,” a fiction book by Emma Cline about a woman who reflects on her involvement with a Charles Manson-like cult;
- “When Breath Becomes Air,” Paul Kalanithi’s moving memoir as he faced a terminal illness at a young age;
- Michael M. Thomas financial thriller “Fixers,” based on the 2008 financial crisis, with appearances by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Speaking of Students
The Association for Library Service to Children always compiles reading lists for students, but this year they decided to also recommend books for “birth to preschool.” Even if you have no interest in this age group, the titles are a fun read.
“A Great Big Cuddle: Poems for the Very Young,” by Michael Rosen, “Steam Train, Dream Train, 1-2-3,” by Sherri Duskey Rinker and “I Hear a Pickle (and Smell, See, Touch, and Taste It, Too!),” by Rachel Isadora, are three of 25 on the list.
On the other end of the young spectrum is University of California Berkeley’s “2016 Non-Required Summer Reading List,” compiled by staff and current students for the incoming class.
The list includes perennial favorite Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s “The Little Prince,” “My Brilliant Friend,” the first of the four Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante (translated by Ann Goldstein) and Walter Isaacson’s “The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution.”
How about your summer reading list? What have you enjoyed reading in past summers? What’s on your wish list this year? We’d love to hear your comments.
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In the past, Molly Kavanaugh frequently wrote about Kendal at Oberlin for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, where she was a reporter for 16 years. Now we are happy to have her writing for the Kendal at Oberlin Community.