Summer is coming. Students across campus can feel it in the temperature that is finally above 70, or rather, see it in the newly-arrived new grass. Students are getting anxious, antsy, a little stressed and excited because come next week, most will be lying on their couches, binging a random Netflix show, sitting on the beach or by the pool or preparing to start a summer job or internship. Whatever your plan is this summer, there will most likely be a surplus of free time for you to do--well--nothing.
So, whether you have made it through all nine seasons of How I Met Your Mother (again) and need something else to do or whether you got a nasty burn from the summer sun and need to sit inside for a bit, here is a diverse list of books that can offer intellectual insight, a conversation starter, a quick satisfying read, or a good laugh:
Being Mortal, Atul Gawande
Just because this book is about medicine does not mean that you have to be pre-med to appreciate it. Being Mortal is about the limitations of medicine along with the realities of aging and death. Author Atul Gawande, a Newton resident and Boston surgeon, reveals the fragility of life by examining failures within both the practices of other doctors and his own. Being Mortal reminds us that life should be full of meaning. Gawande reveals that life is not simply about survival through a series of short stories about patient encounters and life experiences. At some point, physical decline becomes inevitable. In such a situation, one needs to understand how to adapt to a loss of independence and control. Gawande is also the author of Complications, Better and The Checklist Manifesto.
Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Two economists take a stab at explaining some perplexing statistics with economic principles. If you are looking to ponder “the riddles of everyday life” and analyze the quirky truths about life and death, Freakonomics is an insightful and entertaining read. It will both challenge your knowledge and enhance your conversational prowess.
Nine Stories, J.D. Salinger
J.D. Salinger’s short stories discuss topics such as innocence, absence, war, life and death. Though most high school curriculums included A Catcher in the Rye, Salinger’s short stories offer a quick, approachable way to connect with the author and his characters. Short stories are a great for anyone with a busy summer or who would rather read a plethora of narratives.
All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
This is the 2015 Pulitzer Prize Winner and New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide during World War II. Although it’s set in war-torn Europe, it’s not really a “war novel,” but a beautifully written story about the intertwined lives of the two characters. If you read it, you will sound smart and cultured when you talk about it at any summer BBQ.
The Talented Mr. Ripley, Patricia Highsmith
Set in the 1950s, this psychological thriller will have you hooked this summer wondering what the protagonist, Tom Ripley, will do next. What begins as a mission to return an old friend home quickly snowballs into a mysterious and fearful journey. His clever and elusive ways are creepily sociopathic yet enticing to watch unfold. If you are looking for a beach read or a book to curl up with on a rainy day, The Talented Mr. Ripley is a great option.