Growing up, I was always a bookworm. I remember bringing home Scholastic book order forms the week before my birthday and (not so) slyly pointing out the ones I liked to my parents. Whenever I went to the library, the bag of books that I checked out was so heavy, I could not lift it by myself. Now, as a high school student boggled down by work and college-induced stress, books still serve as a huge escape for me. The time I stash away and dedicate towards reading is solely mine—my me time.
As much as summer is synonymous with house parties, long nights with friends, and drunken revelry, it is just as much a call for a relaxing day at the beach. I can just picture it now—the sun glaring in my eyes, the warm wind gently blowing through my salty hair, the sound of the waves lapping against the sand, and in my hand is (surprise, surprise) a book. In a world where everybody is constantly in touch, it is nice to be able to disconnect. With that in mind, here are five must-read books for the summer:
Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins
Whether you are lounging by the pool or commuting to an internship, this collection of twelve short love stories is the perfect accomplice. The curator of the book did an amazing job choosing a very diverse group of stories, whether that is in terms of genre, plot, or style. Paired next to one another, the reader is given a taste test of each of the best-selling authors’ work. Summer Days and Summer Nights is an easy way to dip your toes into different texts—as the reader, you are in complete control of how much you want to immerse yourself in the book. Love is in the air, and there is bound to be a match for everyone with this book.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
An autobiography written by an accomplished neurosurgeon, this novel quickly takes a turn for the worse when Kalanithi reveals he has been diagnosed with cancer. While autobiographies are normally dense and just feel like the author is trying to flaunt his or her accomplishments, Kalanithi’s outlook on life is reflective, raw, and surprisingly tender. His discussion of medical ethics as a surgeon is compelling and reveals his philosophical side. Every line of this novel makes you think, and as a result the reader gains a new understanding and appreciation of their own life.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Set in World War 2, this book has two main narrators, a blind girl living under military occupation with a priceless but cursed stone, and an orphan who becomes a Nazi soldier to avoid having the same fate as his father. In a way that would normally be confusing, All the Light We Cannot See is not told in chronological order. But, because of how well written it is, the disruption in order aids the novel’s connection to the havoc of war. The novel forces the reader to think about war in an extremely effective and humanizing way, as it draws attention to the idea that there is innocence behind both sides of a war effort. This is not a lighthearted read, which means it might not be for everyone. Regardless, the historically significant event is undeniably written in an incredibly eloquent way.
Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton
Perfect for anyone unsure of whether they want to read this summer, Humans of New York is a photography book sparsely accompanied by quotes. Photographer Brandon Stanton embarked on a journey to document the lives of some of the millions of people in New York City. As he conducted longer and longer interviews, he realized that he had a stronger connection to the storytelling aspect of his portraiture than the technical one. His photography blog took off, and in its wake is a phenomenal New York Times bestseller that exhibits both eccentric and mundane human life at its finest.
Ting Ting Chen