While the Stay-At-Home order may be ending, experts say social distancing is far from over. With summer just a few weeks away, we know this one is going to be different. Although major events are canceled, travel plans put on hold, and family and friends are still waved at from 6 feet away, one thing we can always turn to is reading. I’ve created a list of book recommendations geared toward this new reality that we all face this summer. It includes travel, adventure and nature for the jetsetters missing their escapades while much of the nonfiction explores what we are dealing with on a daily basis such as stories from healthcare workers, commentary about TV shows, and isolation. Yes, we are faced with challenging times, but books and reading can provide both an escape and a way to work through the difficulties. This summer, add one or more of these books to your reading list.
- “The Life of Pi“ by Yann Martel
This philosophical novel explores the relativity of truth through the story of Pi and his incredible 227 days shipwrecked at sea with a tiger. Throughout Pi’s journey, he experiences loss, isolation, examines what it means to love God and comes to find an inner strength he never knew he had. Although experiencing the world’s great beauty, he often comes to learn that this is accompanied by great brutality, which he must learn to overcome. This novel takes readers on a journey while making them reflect and ask questions about the world around them. This summer, read the novel and watch the 2012 movie.
- “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
When I think of summertime books, Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” is always one of the first to come to mind. With the sweltering summer as the setting for the steamy romance between Daisy and Gatsby, it’s a perfect summer classic. One of the main points of literary genius of this novel is the color symbolism Fitzgerald uses throughout (you might remember studying this in your high school English class 😉). However, the seasons are also representative of Daisy and Gatsby’s relationship throughout the book. They are reckless, passionate and develop a summer love that is bound to come crashing down around them. Read (or re-read) this classic novel or watch one of the movie versions this summer!
- “The Beekeeper of Aleppo” by Christy Lefteri
Although fiction, “The Beekeeper of Aleppo” helps put human faces on the Syrian war and the millions who have been displaced due to the horrors their country has experienced. Nuri, a beekeeper, and his wife Afra, live a simple life, full of family and friends in the hills of their beloved city Aleppo. After losing everything to the war, they make the difficult but necessary decision to leave their country for Britain. But the journey will not be easy since Afra has lost her sight and numerous obstacles lie ahead of them. Nuri must navigate for the two of them and support his wife as they grieve the loss of her sight, their home, and life as they know it.
- “Where the Crawdad’s Sing” by Delia Owens
If you haven’t yet read this 2019 hit, stop what you’re doing and hop on the holds list. People cannot get enough of this book, and there’s a reason why. Owens paints a colorful picture as she tells the story of a young abandoned girl, Kya, as she grows up in the coastal marshes of North Carolina. While Kya faces many cruelties, she also experiences nature’s beauty in a way few people ever get to see. Throughout the novel, Kya navigates isolation and marsh life, falls in love, and is even caught up in a murder trial. With the backdrop of the marsh as the setting for this captivating novel, this is a perfect summer read.
- “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac If you’re looking for some traveling and rebellion, look no further. Written in 1957, Kerouac’s “On the Road” is based on his travels with friends through the U.S. and is a staple of the Beat and Counterculture generations. Told over five parts, the novel sees the characters through San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Texas, New York City, and is set against the jazz era of the late 1940s and early 1950s. If you’re seeking a turbulent adventure and some great Americana, read “On the Road” this summer.
- “The Language of Kindness: A Nurse’s Story” by Christie Watson
Now more than ever, we are reflecting on the heroics of healthcare workers. After 20 years as a nurse, Watson shares her stories of working patients’ bedsides and those that left lasting impressions on her. From the neonatal unit, to her family’s own experiences in the cancer wards, to pediatric intensive care and the emergency room, Watson demonstrates to readers that nurses are providing more than lifesaving care; they give their jobs their all through a special kindness towards their patients. This summer, read “The Language of Kindness” and thank a nurse in your life.
- “Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir” by Ruth Reichl
This summer might prove kind of difficult for travel and trying new foods from amazing new places. Here’s a remedy for all you foodies. Restaurant critic Ruth Reichl took a risk when she accepted the job as editor-in-chief for “Gourmet” magazine. As a writer, Reichl was hesitant to enter the corporate world and be a boss to so many people. However, she revolutionized the magazine. Through discussions with legendary chefs, highlighting the rise of the farm-to-table movement, and emphasizing the moment restaurants began to play an important part in popular culture, Reichl achieved dreams in a place she never expected to be. Read the memoir then start cooking all those new recipes you found during the Stay-At-Home order.
- “I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution” by Emily Nussbaum
Over the past several weeks, many of us have put in our time binging new TV shows and rewatching our favorites movies (believe me, I’m right there with ya 🙋♀️). So maybe it’s time for us to reflect on what we are watching. In “I Like to Watch,” Pulitzer Prize-winning culture critic, Emily Nussbaum, argues that we are what we watch but in a smart, funny and engaging way. In this insightful collection of essays, Nussbaum examines how a TV show’s fans sway the show they love, the power of sexual violence on TV, and even how jokes played a role in the election of a reality TV based president.
- “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed
During this time, some of us are needing a little adventure and maybe a little insight into life’s many changes. Follow Cheryl as she hikes the Pacific Crest Trail and not only battles the elements but her own issues within. “Wild” is a book both of an incredible journey through nature as well a journey of self-discovery. Cheryl is pushed to her absolute limits but in return, in her solitude, she learns and grows more than she ever expected. If you’re looking to be inspired or want to go on a quest, read “Wild” and watch the film this summer!
- “The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone” by Olivia Laing
Part research, biography and memoir, Laing examines the cultural criticism surrounding loneliness and does so in the largest city in the U.S. Through New York City’s art, she explores what it means to be alone and seeks its causes, ways to counter, and even its redemption. Though strange, she finds beauty in isolation and shows how it is inherent to being alive. This summer, read “The Lonely City” to seek insight about isolation and this new reality many of us have come to face during these crazy times.
To checkout these books and others, please visit our website; many of these are offered for digital checkout. You can also chat with staff about questions and additional book recommendations on our website. Wishing everyone a safe and healthy summer; have fun reading!