Resenting the go-go pace of life does no one any good unless they take action. Through the years, I’ve found a successful combination to a respite from a world that’s going too fast.
First, I start really evaluating the invitations that come my way and say no to a lot more of them. Secondly, I start reading more. Specifically, I try to read at least one book every two weeks. That may be too much reading for some, but the act of reading, in and of itself, forces stillness — regardless of your goal.
In the spirit of inspiring some of you to find a healthier pace of life and do something good for your brain, I’ve put together a list of recommended summer reading.
I polled fellow readers with the question, “If you had to recommend one book that people should read this summer, which one would it be and why?” They reminded me of some great choices to share.
Finding the right book to read can be tricky — especially when you’re recommending for those who don’t read often. The stakes are high stakes. I’ve put two weeks of thought into the following list and hope it helps you to find the right book for you. Finding the right book for others is not a one-size fits all proposition. I’ve evaluated various recommendations and taken the liberty to advise which books might be best for different groups of readers. The best case scenario is that you’ll find more than one that’s right for you.
If you want to feel more connected to the younger crowd and need a lesson in recognizing joy, love and beauty, read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.
If you’re needing a bit of adventure in your life and are looking for encouragement in the face of defeat, read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.
If you’re looking for a manly read, read Lonesome Dove (women like it too, but men tend to love it). The tale is funny and the characters resonate, because, as my friend Matt Jones says, “all of them, in one form or another, live within you.”
If you prefer non-fiction and you’re interested in gaining insight into our nation’s current immigration struggle, read The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands by Margaret Regan.
If, for whatever reasons, you can’t take a trip this summer and you really want to, read one of the following: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Hawaii or Poland by James Michener or Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Those four books are great summer reads. With intensely wonderful storytelling, each of the lengthy books has the ability to transport you to a different time and place.
If you work at any level in the medical field — or you like non-fiction and are interested in learning about a collision of cultures, read The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman.
If you’re a fan of Latin American literature or are interested in reading contemporary classics, try One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a Nobel Prize winner.
Read Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy (and I can’t fully explain my reasoning here, but here goes) if you’re going through a tumultuous time. Maybe it’s because I read the book when I was going through a turbulent time and there was something, in the chaos of the story, that I found comforting and stabilizing.
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck is an old favorite. If you missed it somewhere along the way or remember enjoying reading it decades ago, it’s worth a re-visit, especially if you’re interested in understanding more about the Chinese culture.
If you’re just looking for a good old-fashioned love story that is beautiful and unstressful to read, try Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter.
If you’ve read every book on this list and still need a recommendation and like a good “who done it?”, read The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling. Rowling published the book under a pen name presumably to see how it would do without the force of Harry Potter behind it. With great pacing and character development, the book (which targets adult readers) is a wonderful read. Expect Rowling’s primary sleuth Cormoran Strike to become a force on his own — no wizardry required.
Happy summer and happy reading. Slow down and enjoy it!