Books to Pick Up This Summer

Sierra Block Gorman, ‘16

  1. The Martian by Andy Weir. This Sci-Fi thriller is a snarky, clever exploration of a simple hypothetical – what would happen if someone was accidentally left on Mars? Set in the near future, the science in this book, which is almost completely accurate and has been checked over by professionals, adds an interesting academic angle to what reads like the blog of a modern nerd who happens to be stuck on a frigid desert planet. Warnings: Obscenity — if you were alone on Mars, then you’d probably curse too.
  2. The Name of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. This whirlwind epic fantasy tells the story of a legendary wizard, called a hero by some, a villain by many, and a mystery by all. It follows his childhood in the streets, leading the reader through his successes and failures at a prestigious magic academy, on to the reason the call him “Kingkiller.” It is a fantastic book with a complicated and fleshed-out world, deep and fascinating characters, and enough humor, tragedy, and action to justify the high page count. Warnings: Language, violence, sexual activity, crime and an ending that won’t let you skip the sequel.
  3. Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. This is the biography of one of the greatest minds of WWII, Alan Turing. He was a genius cryptanalyst, a pioneer in computer technology, a father of Artificial Intelligence theory, and a gay man in a society that criminalized homosexuals. Warnings: This book is a bit dry, but by the end your eyes will be soaking wet. Suicide, persecution against homosexuals, war and death are all major themes. Feel free to watch the movie adaptation, The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch.
  4. The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore. This book is so much more than just a history of a comic book character. It is the history of Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston, and of the feminist movement of the 20th century. It is a fascinating exploration of the evolution of feminism and how Wonder Woman became the feminist icon of the 1940’s. It also paints a lurid picture of the inventor of the lie-detector test, and his unconventional family life that featured bondage, polygamy, and drama. Warnings: There are some mentions of sexual activity and sexuality, but nothing explicit. Tamer than it sounds.
  5. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. This book is a strange blend of two opposing characters’ points of view that work together to paint a startling and unnerving picture of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The two main characters are Daniel Burnham, the chief architect of the World’s Fair, and Dr. H.H. Holmes, a serial killer who used the Fair to lure his victims into an elaborately constructed murder house. Warnings: It can get pretty gruesome. One of the main characters is a serial killer, after all.
  6. Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman! By Richard P. Feynman. This is a lighthearted series of anecdotes from one of the other great minds of WWII, Richard Feynman, commonly known as one of the funniest physicists of all time. Feynman regales the reader with humorous tales of bongo drums, nuclear physics, lock picking, and egregious disregard for national security. Warnings: Some of the jokes are science jokes. Some are not. You’ve been warned.
  7. Looking For Alaska by John Green. If you’ve read The Fault in Our Stars, or seen the movie, and are looking for more John Green, look no further. Looking For Alaska is a coming of age tale with a focus on life, death and everything that comes after. It is a mix of the humor, romance and philosophical introspection that characterizes John Green’s writing style. Guaranteed to make you laugh, cry, and question your place in the universe, this book is a must-read. Warnings: Language, sex, underage drinking and smoking, suicide, pranks, death, religion, and disrespect for authority.
  8. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy by Douglas Adams. The first of five books chronicling the misadventures of Arthur Dent, a man who narrowly escapes the destruction of planet Earth and finds himself lost and in need of a ride within the depths of space. Picked up by a ship that quite literally warps reality, he goes looking for a way to get Earth back, or at least a planet that looks a lot like it, but finds a lot of other things instead, including the ultimate answer to life’s big question (Spoiler Alert: It’s 42.) Warnings: I can’t even begin to explain all the crazy stuff in this book. Take a chance, you won’t regret it.
  9. The Song of The Lioness Series by Tamora Pierce. Tamora Pierce is an amazing fantasy writer with tons of books all building on one world. I highly recommend reading all of them, but to start out, read the Song of the Lioness series. It is about a girl who wants to become a knight of the realm and switches places with her brother and pretends to be a boy in order to do so. A strange magical medieval gender-bender, this book exemplifies Pierce’s mastery of the strong female character and provides the feminist version of the classic epic fantasy you never knew you wanted. Warnings: Sex, violence, language, magic and feudal society.
  10. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. This book is a hilariously sacrilegious account of the birth of the Antichrist and the Apocalypse, a huge cosmic misunderstanding, and the actions of an angel and devil duo who band together in an attempt to prevent the Final War Between Good and Evil. It’s terribly funny, terribly irreverent, and a terribly good collaboration between two terribly talented writers. Warnings: Language, violence, mentions of sex, philosophy, religion, and fraternizing with the enemy in the most amusing ways.

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