Summer Reading 2019

Thursday 4 July 2019

We all have a lot going on in our lives.  Compound that with a new IB curriculum starting in August (or January for others), and it can get pretty exhausting trying to keep up with it all.  I find that in those moments – and I’ve had plenty of those moments in the past six months – I turn to one of the many pleasures in life: reading.

This usually isn’t in the form of reading for school or about school.  Instead, I find myself reading widely for pleasure, from a variety of genres and for whatever reason that a book holds and keeps my attention.  Below are ten of those books over the past six months that have done just that. 

On that note, I wish you all a wonderful summer (or winter) filled with great books!

Happy Reading,


Top 10 Books (Dec 2018 – June 2019)

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

If you read one book this summer, make it this one.  I am still thinking about what happened to Sasha in this non-fiction investigative report.  And I am still thinking about what is the right way to handle a criminal case like this.  I cannot recommend this book enough.  It’s technically an easy read, but emotionally, it’s anything but.

The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud

This was almost my top book of the last six months.  While it came out 4 years ago, I finally got my hands on it in our library.  I devoured it.  What a delight of a novel!  The author transforms The Stranger and tells the story instead from the perspective of “the Arab’s” imagined brother.  Daoud turns and twists so many things in such creative and innovative ways that I can’t help but grin at each biting criticism.  Although I won’t be teaching The Stranger or this novel, they do pair incredibly well in the Intertextuality section of our course.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Wow!  This book is a doozy and I loved how Celestial and Roy’s relationship unfolds.  The story follows both characters as they fall in love and are faced with trying to keep that love alive amidst Roy’s prison sentence for a rape he didn’t commit.  It’s not for the faint of heart and it’s is much, much more than a story about two characters trying to make it in the world.   

She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper

She Rides Shotgun won the Edgar Award for best new novel in 2018.  It’s fun.  It’s tense.  It’s lively.  Polly, an 11-year-old, is kidnapped by her own father who has just been released from prison.  You understand and accept the kidnapping, but that doesn’t make it any easier.  Her father, Nate, is trying to protect her and in doing so, ends up completely altering her life trajectory.  Plus, there’s this really awesome teddy bear whom you can’t help but love.  

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Hariri

I read this over the winter break (end of December) and I really enjoyed it.  It is a book of 21 essays from the author of Sapiens.  The first third of the book was amazing and I kept questioning myself about artificial intelligence, data collection, and how technology is reshaping the world along with my role in that world.

The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani

This novel was listed on a ton of “best of” lists for 2018 and it didn’t disappoint.  Louise is a nanny for an upper-class French family.  You slowly start to see her life unravel as she takes care of two kids while the family has little regard for Louise’s life and background.  It was a biting psychological thriller with sharp social criticism about the life of the underclass.  

Lake Success by Gary Shteyngart

A member of my department bought this for me as a Christmas gift (he was my Secret Santa).  I had put it on a list of books I wanted to read because I loved Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story.  The main character, Barry, is a hoot of a protagonist.  Insanely wealthy, completely self-absorbed, and totally clueless about how life works for 99.999% of people, Shteyngart humorously chronicles Barry’s demise as his life falls apart.  If you are looking for fun satire about the billionare class, this is the book for you.  

The Ferryman by Jez Butterworth

Winner of the Tony Award for Best Play this year, The Ferryman was a deeply personal story about The Troubles in Ireland.  It follows a character formerly involved in the IRA and the ongoing consequences of such association for his entire (and large) family.  While it is tense and taut throughout, it is the ending that will shock you the most.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

I accidently stumbled upon this book and it was such a delight to have done so.  It is a fun, but also incredibly dark fantasy novel about Jack and Jill, two twin sisters who climb into a chest in the attic and end up in the Moors, a deeply frightful place.  While it is technically the second in the series (Every Heart a Doorway is the first), you can read it as a stand-alone novel.       

The Border by Don Winslow

The last novel, after The Power of the Dog and The Cartel (my favorite of the three), this novel concludes Winslow’s trilogy about Art Keller and his fight against Mexican drug cartels.  What makes this so different from the other books is the emphasis on the politics and corruption in the U.S.  It would make a great airplane read if you’re looking to kill time on a long-haul flight.   

Tags: Tim, summer reading, creating a culture of readers, book recommendations


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