Iolanthe Brooks, ’15
Summer reading has an unfairly harsh rep, but assigned books are not the only type of reading around! If you’re looking for fun, interesting summer reads that will not make you want to gouge your eyes out, but don’t know where to start, look no further than this awesome list of books recommendations from other BHSEC students. So, dust off your library card, check out some used book sales (or borrow from a friend), and dig into these good reads from all genres.
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle By Haruki Murakami
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is best described, according to Charlie Schine (Y1), as “crazy.” In it, “the mundane world turns completely insane, a man loses his cat and—in the process of finding it—loses his wife.” This novel, a cross between speculative and magical realism, is about a man’s extraordinary journey to a world underneath Tokyo, one which he finds “after having a transcendental experience in a musty well.” All in all, this book is an extremely well-written account of one fantastical world.
Collapse by Jared Diamond
This non-fiction book “examines both historical societies and present-day ones in order to show that environmental damage has and will lead to the destruction of both,” explains Jed Lenetsky (Y1). Although it is non-fiction, it’s not just historical: it is political, economic, and social. “It makes the really interesting argument that global warming and environmental destruction aren’t abstract or irrelevant [issues],” Jed says. “It’s very well written, it’s interesting” and it speaks to current tensions in a “thoughtful, provocative way.” “And,” Jed adds, “I also think it’s like the best book ever.” An important read, Collapse should definitely make it on to your summer reading list.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
For starters, Water for Elephants has a semi-decent movie, a fun bonus for summertime reads. Emily Van Bloem (Y2) explains that the historical fiction book “is a pretty good representation” of life in the 1930s and the wild circus culture of the time. The book is a fast-paced, attention-grabbing peek into the fascinating world of travelling circuses, focused on a veterinarian who takes a job with a circus on a whim. Water for Elephants is “a love story” and “a great summer read.”
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
Into Thin Air is “a chilling tale about all these people on Mount Everest when a crazy storm hits,” describes Gabe Haddad (Y1). “The author was actually [on Everest] and survived—it’s crazy.” The non-fiction, autobiographical account is suspenseful, exciting, and impossible to put down – a must-read.
Just Kids by Patti Smith
This memoir by the legendary singer, songwriter, poet, and artist Patti Smith is “really beautiful and poetic.” Elena Perez (Y1) explains that Smith has “an amazing style, being a songwriter.” It also made Elena feel “really nostalgic for a NYC I haven’t experienced, because the grimy 70s NYC,” where drugs, art, and crime defined the New York experience, is made alluring through her eyes. Smith chronicles her years as a struggling young artist and her complicated relationship with friend and lover Robert Mapplethorpe, who went on to become a famous photographer. For both fans and those who have never heard of Patti Smith, this book is a profound and engrossing choice.
Artificial Paradises by Charles Baudelaire
Artificial Paradises, or Les Pasadis Artificiel in its original French, is a philosophical and autobiographical exploration of whether people “can create their own fabricated paradises using drugs and sensual pleasures.” Enzo Bonsignour (Y1) explains that Baudelaire, a father of modern philosophy, asks, “What is paradise?” Can it be constructed through pleasures? Each chapter looks at a different indulgence, including hash, opium, and wine. Artificial Paradises is eloquent, interesting, and a fun read.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
A classic in and beyond the science-fiction world, this fast-paced and short comic novel, the first of a five-part series, is hilarious and impossible to put down. The story revolves around bumbling human Arthur Dent and his alien friend Ford Prefect (who, upon arriving on Earth, named himself after a car, assuming that cars were the dominant life forms) as they travel the universe to escape Earth’s destruction. Prefect is a researcher for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a travel guide for the universe and the namesake of the book. From the iconic “Don’t Panic” sign on the front of the Guide to its hilarious and telling observations of the modern world, Hitchhiker’s Guide is perfect for a long car trip or to spice up a boring afternoon.
Some other recommendations:
RUNNING WITH SCISSORS What is the What SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE The Glass Castle THE BELL JAR Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN Aimless Love UNACCUSTOMED EARTH Notes from the Underground THE PLAGUE Let the Great World Spin ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST The Unbearable Lightness of Being