For most high school students, there are about ten weeks of summer sandwiched between the SATs, ACTs, the spring finals rush, and the start of school, including the full-fledged admission application season that unfolds for seniors in the fall. Ten weeks to relax and reflect; to connect with friends and family in ways the school calendar doesn’t often allow. Yes, there’s even time to read –for pure pleasure. Students may be looking for a variety of books this summer: creative novels with characters and life choices they can relate to; tales of futuristic dystopia; mysteries or Sci-fi; or nonfiction guides to assist in their journey. We asked Natasha Gilmore, a book buyer with Brookline Booksmith, for some of her current favorite summer reading recommendations.
In The Martian by Andy Weir, astronaut Mark Watney tells his startling story of ingenuity, strength and survival on Mars, when he’s the only person left behind after a dust storm forces the rest of his NASA team to evacuate. Gripping, thrilling, and filled with scientific accuracy, this space tale is reminiscent of the 1964 film Robinson Crusoe on Mars. Recommended for all high school students.
A more earthly look at our relationship with technology and its isolating impact is the subject of Lock In by John Scalzi, due to be released in August. Scalzi’s characters are stuck in their own brains, frozen in time — when they become the unlucky 1% of those stricken with a deadly form of a virus causing “lock in.” Recommended for all high school students.
With an imaginative, creative take on love in the distant future, Icelandic author Andri Snaer Magnason’s LoveStar company takes over the world, and solves the problem of falling in love with perfect matchmaking, while attempting to “calculate apart” two who fell in love the old fashioned way. The English translation of LoveStar was released in 2012.
Americanah tells the story of Nigerian-born Ifemelu, detailing her smart and sassy observations on race and minority relations upon coming to the United States to study and eventually win a fellowship at Princeton (as did the novel’s Nigerian-born author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie). This is Adichie’s third novel, a sharp examination of race in America, Nigeria, and Britain, and the differences between being African-American and American-African. But there’s more — Americanah is also a satisfying love story in our post-9/11 world.
The Bees: A Novel tells the story of Flora 717, a low level sanitation worker in her orchard hive, and how she gains entrance to the Queen’s inner sanctum and then dares to challenge its strict hierarchy. Laline Paull’s debut novel is a highly imaginative coming-of-age story that’s been compared to Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale, Suzanne Marie Collins’ The Hunger Games, and George Orwell’s Animal Farm. In addition to Natasha Gilmore’s enthusiastic nod, The Bees earned Top Ten honors on the summer reading list recently shared by New York Times Book Review editor Parul Seghal on NPR. Recommended for all high school students.
The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is the tremendously popular new book by Swiss author Joel Dicker. A book
within a book — young author Marcus Goldman looks to his professor and writing mentor Harry Quebert to help conquer writer’s block as he faces his first big book deal — it’s also a page-turning murder mystery set on the Maine coast.
Also: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (recommended for all high school students); The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt; The Circle by Dave Eggers; The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by business reporter Charles Duhigg explores how habits form and how we can change for the better.
The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — And How to Make the Most of Them Now by clinical psychologist Meg Jay examines the science and practical realities of the lives of twentysomethings, and provides advice about how to make good choices and use this time of adulthood wisely.
How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One by English professor and New York Times columnist Stanley Fish, explains the importance of the opening and closing sentence and how writers can master the basics of style and impart greater meaning with their words. Recommended for all high school students.
For Parents and Students
Living On Your Own: The Complete Guide to Setting Up Your Money, Your Space, and Your Life by Pierre A. Lehu offers money and time-saving tips about how to avoid some of the pitfalls of early adulthood and the quest for independence.
Perhaps Just for Parents
Thinking, Fast and Slow by psychologist and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, explores the psychology of the thought process, intuition, judgment and how to understand and even change the way we think and comprehend.
Letting Go (Fifth Edition): A Parents’ Guide to Understanding the College Years by Karen Levin Coburn provides parents with comfort and guidance about what to expect from the time of their child’s senior year in high school until college graduation.
Those not marked as “recommended for all” are targeted toward rising seniors or adults.
Need more suggestions? Check out our blog for previous summer recommendations, or visit Brookline Booksmith and find your own treasure.