With the semester drawing to a close and health concerns tainting the idea of this summer’s travels, it may be time to recognize books for the escape they can become. Through literature, people can safely travel the world, experience new cultures, and potentially improve themselves. After much discussion, and a little debate, here’s 23 works to consider for your summer reading list:
1. Batman: Hush by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee
This comic series was actively running from 2002-2003, and follows Batman’s stalker, Hush. Follow along as Hush tries to interfere with Batman’s plans, as well as an opportunity to get to know many of his famous villains and allies.
2. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
This novel follows “the kid” as he works his way deeper into the Glanton gang. The Glanton gang, known for scalping the Native Americans, make their way towards Mexico with plans to rob the locals. With local tribes unhappy with the bloodthirsty group, the dramatic story is filled with action.
3. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Set in the future, Huxley describes a highly technological world that has abandoned today’s ways of life. The concept of the “family unit” is no longer applicable in this society, as readers are led through a community focused on stability and happiness above all else. With the introduction of John, a “savage” brought to civilization from a native reservation, he is forced to experience the world from the perspective of his community and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. This novel aims to illuminate the way that society determines morality and ethics, as well as the dangers of taking science too far.
4. Dr. Stone by Riichiro Inagaki
Originating in Japan, the manga follows Senku Ishigami after he is somehow brought back to life. After being petrified for more than three thousand years, he uses his own revival as an opportunity to learn how to help revive others and repopulate the planet. During this time, he must try to avoid the efforts of Tsukasa Shishio, a man in favor of power over science, and hidden tribes.
5. Eats, Shoots, & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss
This text examines the importance of punctuation in a society that has increasingly rejected the rules through the lens of a long-suffering copy editrix. Through jokes and helpful examples, this work of non-fiction aims to help aspiring writers identify apostrophe catastrophes and avoid comma trauma.
6. The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them by The Freedom Writers with Erin Gruwell
Following Wilson High School English class instructor Erin Gruwell, this work of non-fiction describes the reflection that the students went through. In an attempt to get her at-risk students to be more understanding of how racism can really impact a community, Gruwell has her class, known as the Freedom Writers, read and reflect upon texts documenting the darkest moments in history.
7. Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry
For those who are looking for a little more diversity, this picture book is a great one to share with kids. Primarily focusing on the unique qualities of Zuri’s hair, especially when it is worn in styles that are thought to be stereotypically “black,” this book is the perfect way to help boost a young reader’s self-esteem and remind them that we’re all beautiful, no matter our differences.
8. Lisey’s Story by Stephen King
Following a deceased writer’s widow, Lisey Landon is left to work through her troubled emotions as she organizes and cleans her husband’s study. With scholars and agents regularly trying to obtain any work he may have left unpublished, she eventually finds herself being blackmailed to give up the unpublished texts he may have left behind. Fighting for her life and to obtain closure, Lisey is forced to remember the dark and troubled past of the husband she lost.
9. Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
Aza Ray Boyle finds herself struggling to live her life due to a lung disease that can’t be understood. When she finds herself suddenly in a new world, a land of trading ships in the sky, she realizes that her lung disease is non-existent. Instead, she has profound power. However, the two worlds she loves are going to war, and it is on Aza to help one of them win.
10. More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth
In this thoughtful memory, Welteroth reflects on the choices and risks she has taken to achieve her current level of success as a black female journalist. Rather than focusing on her success as she remembers each decision, Welteroth opts to shed light on the barriers and setbacks that the average person, especially women of color, will experience in the professional world. This text is perfect for someone who is tired of feeling alone, or who is tired of being rejected for being different.
11. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Permanently altering the life of 13-year-old Jojo, he is faced with the haunting reality that his supernatural gifts have ran through his family for generations. Seeing the ghosts of a child, Richie, Jojo is forced to find out how his grandfather is involved. Meanwhile, his mother Leonie sees her deceased brother. This process of healing the hidden wounds comes from the perspective of multiple characters by drawing on the most universally understood concepts today: racism, religion, and death.
12. Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises by Timothy F. Geithner
Timothy F. Geithner, the secretary of the Treasury during the Obama administration, describes his experience as a government official during the financial crisis that threatened a second depression. Geithner uses his memory as an opportunity to not only reflect on what he had witnessed in their efforts to protect the economy from further destruction, but also on what they failed at as leaders. This text provides insights from one of the most experienced men in the country, including how future leaders can do better.
13. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
This novel is perfect for the person who wonders what their dog thinks about. This story follows Enzo, a dog who spends most of his time preparing to be reincarnated as a human in his next life. Through Enzo, readers will get to also understand the individuals around him, such as his family. Be prepared though, this book is an emotional roller-coaster.
14. The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
This highly controversial text made The Runner’s list for the same reason most people choose to attend university: the importance of knowledge. This political document lays out the philosophy that affected governments around the globe, and continues to inspire people today. It is in this document that the Communist party openly declares their main objectives, the core values, and how people should be acting on the declarations. Whether readers love or hate Marxist philosophy, this text will help make sense of the actions of millions around the globe.
15. The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy by Jon Gordon
In his non-fiction work, Gordon offers ten key pieces of advice to help readers obtain the same level of success and happiness that he has. To do so, Gordon frequently relies on anecdotes. Each tip is aimed at improving the overall quality of the human experience, and the best ways for readers to help improve theirs.
16. The Fireman by Joe Hill
Centered in a dystopian, apocalyptic society, a deadly fungus has caused chaos. This fungus doesn’t just make people ill; it makes them spontaneously combust. This new and dangerous world is presented as Harper Grayson and her unborn child are forced to find a way to stay alive after contracting the deadly fungus.
17. The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
Starting with City of Bones, follow Clary Fray as she discovers the world of Nephilim, demons, and shadowhunting. After discovering the existence of shadowhunters, Fray is thrown into the world of magic and possibility. Not only is she able to learn about a new world and gain new skills, but she is also able to finally learn more about her own family history. This series is full of action, humor, and magic from beginning to end.
18. The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
Whether this picture book is read as a bedtime story or just for nostalgia, The Rainbow Fish has a message that everyone can get behind: be kind. Following a young rainbow fish, he learns that people expect others to be polite and share when appropriate. In the process, he also learns about vanity and selfishness. This story is surely bound to remind readers of childhood advice.
19. The Shining by Stephen King
After Jack Torrance, a novelist, gets a job as the caretaker of a hotel in the middle of nowhere, his family is given the scare of a lifetime. With his wife Wendy and son Danny, Jack begins to become more aggressive and insane as they spend the winter in isolation. Eventually spiraling into full-scale madness, this tale is bound to have readers on the edge of their seats with anticipation.
20. We All Fall Down by Daniel Kalla
When the Black Plague reemerges in the modern day, scientists are left to suspect foul play. As researchers attempt to find where the disease began, they encounter a lost text that could potentially save humanity.
21. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Following the daily life of Kya, the town outcast of a small marsh town in North Carolina, she exposes the prejudice she encountered the 1950’s as a child. This prejudice then leads to her being accused of murder when a body turns up in the marsh, leaving her to fight the deep-rooted assumptions that have followed her family for decades. This story is full of sorrow, love, and uncertainty, bound to leave readers reeling.
22. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Filled with heartbreak, inspiration, and hope, Cheryl Strayed uses her memory to describe her experience completing the Pacific Crest Trail. Spanning more than a thousand miles, the solo hike provided her with the perfect opportunity for self-reflection and improvement. Follow Strayed on her journey and take a step into her past through the retelling of her adventures.
23. You Get So Alone at Times That it Just Makes Sense by Charles Bukowski
Bukowski retraces his childhood and the experiences that shaped him in an attempt to understand how they affected him. Drawing on childhood memories and cats to do so, this work of non-fiction is bound to show off his softer side.
Whether it is for pleasure or education, each of these texts has a lesson to offer everyone, but it is on us to decide which opportunities we will take. With topics ranging from racism to sexism to classism, the discoveries waiting to be made are endless.