There is nothing quite better than reading a good book over the summer. For Summer 2021, we’ve provided 5 summer reading recommendations, highlighting both classics and a few new gems. The list reflects a lighter tone, which is likely the result of finally coming out of a pandemic after being couped up for nearly 18 months. We hope there is something on the list that sparks your interest and that you might pick up during your next trip to the book store.
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carré
In honor of John le Carré passing at the end of 2020, we pulled out this seminal spy novel. One of le Carré’s first novels, the story follows Alec Leamas, a British agent in the autumn of his career, who was sent to East Germany as a ruse defection to sow disinformation about a powerful East German intelligence officer. The story occurs during the heightened tensions that characterized the late 1950s and early 1960s Cold War and begins and concludes in Berlin, about a year after the completion of the Berlin Wall. The narrative is outstanding and it ranks as one of the best spy novels ever written.
The Address Book by Deirdre Mask
When most of us think about street addresses, we think in terms of Google Maps and our ability to navigate through our smart phones. Our parents thought in terms of the mail being delivered to the right house for 10 cents a letter. In this wonderful book, Deirdre Mask explores street addresses and their link to people, history, class, and race. The history of street addresses traces back to the ancient Romans and how Nazis have haunted the streets of modern Germany. The Address Book illuminates the complex, and in some cases, hidden stories behind street names and their power to name, to hide, to decide who counts and who doesn’t, and why. Also, check out the “What Three Words” app. This app uses three unique words to show the coordinates for every 10 square feet around the planet and can be helpful in coordinating meetings with people now that we can meet again.
First Principles: What America’s Founders Learned from the Greeks and Romans and How That Shaped Our Country by Thomas E. Ricks
First Principles examines the roots of American Democracy and was written following the election of 2016. The book explores the influence of ancient Greece and Rome on the founding of the United States by looking at the educations, philosophy, and early lives of George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison as expressed through their speeches and writings. In this New York Times bestseller, Ricks brings to light the roots of American democracy when the early colonials were confronted by an imperial crisis. That crisis evolved into the independence movement. It was the American revolutionary’s foundation in the writings and culture of ancient Greece and Rome that helped to navigate and form the new government. It taught them that the success of their initiatives depended above all on the cultivation of virtue, placing the public good before private interest. With the entrenched partisan politics and the gridlock in Congress over the past 15 years, this book helps to inspire readers with the principles on which our democracy was initially founded.
Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat by Bill Watterson
After 18 months of pandemic, we needed something light and easy to read. Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat fits that category perfectly.
This is a wonderful accumulation of Calvin & Hobbes comic strips that chronicles the life of a young precocious boy Calvin and his stuffed tiger Hobbes, who only comes to life for Calvin. Together, the two take on life’s challenges and create their own opportunities through the eyes of a young boy. Calvin contemplates life while rocketing down a hill in his wagon, torments Susie, daydreams through class in school and holds important club meetings in the tree fort. This comic strip is nothing short of brilliant.
Bill Watterson wrote and drew the Calvin & Hobbes comic strip with amazing detail and the strip was syndicated for only 10 years and then stopped. Watterson did not allow any commercial products to be licensed or reproduced. This book will make you smile this summer.
Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted by Suleika Jaouad
This is an inspiring, beautiful book about a woman’s battle with cancer and her amazing journey, which she chronicled for The New York Times.
After graduating from college, Suleika Jaouad moved to Paris to pursue her dream of becoming a war correspondent. However, the real world was about to take her into a journey she had not planned. What started as an itch, turned into a rash, and then exhaustion. She was diagnosed with leukemia and given a 35% chance to live just before her 23rd birthday. By the time she flew home to New York, she had lost her job and her apartment, and would spend much of the next four years in a hospital bed, fighting for her life.
After many rounds of chemo and a bone marrow transplant, she would walk out of the hospital, according to the doctors, cured. But, she had no idea how to reengage in life. Her story goes beyond survival and describes the adventure Jaouad embarks in over a 15,000-mile road trip to meet some of the strangers who had written to her during her years in the hospital. Between Two Kingdoms is a profound story of survival and a loving, and inspiring exploration of what it means to begin life over again.
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