It’s that time of year, when we (ideally) have more time to kick back and read for pleasure, rather than for a deadline. Here are some recommendations from those of us here at ZSR, as well as some links to new book lists from around the web.
If you have recommendations of your own, please share them in the comments!
- Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan
“This book combines a secret society, Google, and the history of printing all into on exciting story!” – suggested by Craig (second by many)
- A Time to Be Born, by Dawn Powell
“For years, author Dawn Powell swore her lead character in A Time to Be Born was not based on Clare Boothe Luce, then, much later in life she found an entry from her own diary from 1939 that said, “Why not do a novel on Clare Luce?” When you read this novel, set in New York in the months leading up to World War II, you will understand why Dawn Powell denied the claim for so long!” – suggested by Hu
- Inferno, by Dan Brown
“I’m looking forward to reading Dan Brown’s Inferno — reviews indicate another fun read for the author’s fans.” – suggested by Lauren
- The Secret Keeper, by Kate Morton
“Kate Morton’s The Secret Keeper is the perfect summer time read. It is a beautifully written novel filled with mystery, love, history (pre-WWII England), and family secrets. I suggest you read this book when you have long stretches of time, the plot is a bit complex, but oh so interesting!” – suggested by Joy
- The Beautiful Mystery: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel, by Louise Penny
“The latest entry in the excellent Three Pines/Inspector Gamache mystery series. This particular mystery focuses on a small monastery and their particular practice of Gregorian Chant, but all of the novels explore the interplay between history and contemporary life in Quebec.” – suggested by Kaeley
- Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles
“Set in the late 1930’s, This story focuses on a chaotic year in the life of three friends and the stunning aftermath, all occurring with the backdrop of a New York city in transition.” – suggested by Hu
- A Novel Bookstore, by Laurence Cosse
“Originally published in French, this novel is a celebration of great literature, exquisitely combining passion, intrigue, mystery and longing in a tale that centers upon an innovative Parisian bookstore and the individuals championing its cause. Expertly interweaving the bookstore’s evolution from inception to current tribulation with the life stories of the characters, Ms. Cossé has crafted a novel that would easily claim a rightful spot on The Good Novel’s (regretfully fictional) shelves.” – suggested by Molly
- The Interestings: A Novel, by Meg Wolitzer
“This knowing, generous and slyly sly new novel follows a group of teenagers who meet at a summer camp for artsy teens in 1974 and survive as friends through the competitions and realities of growing up. At its heart is Jules (nee Julie, she changes it that first summer to seem more sophisticated) Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress who comes to realize she’s got more creative temperament than talent; her almost boyfriend Ethan Figman, the true genius in the bunch (he’s a cartoonist); musician Jonah Bay, son of a famous Baez-ish folksinger; and the Wolf siblings, Ash and Goodman, attractive and mysterious. How these five circle each other, come together and break apart, makes for plenty of hilarious scenes and plenty of heartbreaking ones, too. A compelling coming of age story about five privileged kids, this is also a pitch-perfect tale about a particular generation and the era that spawned it. –Sara Nelson (from Amazon)” – suggested by Anna
- Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
“I think Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a good summer read. The eerie setting is a good contrast to hot summer days. And the cautionary message about playing god,experimenting with life, and accepting responsibility for your actions gave my mind something to chew on for a while after I read it.” – suggested by Derrik
- My Name is Mary Sutter, by Robin Oliveira
“My Name is Mary Sutter is a gritty but compelling book about the role of women in providing health care for men in combat in the Civil War. At the start of the story Mary Sutter is a midwife who wants to be a surgeon. When the Civil War starts, she believes it might be an opportunity to serve both the nation and her own desires, but finds herself relegated to maid, and to nurses assistant, struggling to affect change in an environment that does not value even basic sanitation. The conditions of the war cause more men to die of disease than the wounds inflicted during battle. I loved this book for its insight into the conditions regiments on both sides lived in, as well as the story of this woman who fights vigorously to be viewed as equal to the task of surgeon in a time when women just didn’t do those things.” – suggested by Mary Beth
- The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
“A haunting tale of literature, love and madness, this novel sweeps readers through the flamboyant and unexpected world of 1950s Barcelona in a masterfully written and well-translated literary mystery.” – suggested by Molly
- Winter of the World, by Ken Follett
“If you haven’t read Fall of Giants, the first of this series, start there! Be warned, once you read book one and book two, you will have to wait a couple of years for the conclusion of this trilogy to be published. If you like historical fiction, you will love these books!” – suggested by Hu
- Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America, by Steve Almond (Amazon link)
“In this hilarious and at times ridiculous romp across the United States, Steve Almond tastily shares the history of American candy production and consumption, from the economics of product placement to regional specialties to old favorites that have been retired. My advice: have chocolate on hand and enjoy!” – suggested by Molly
- The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945, by Rick Atkinson
“The magnificent conclusion to Rick Atkinson’s acclaimed Liberation Trilogy about the Allied triumph in Europe during World War II. It is the twentieth century’s unrivaled epic: at a staggering price, the United States and its allies liberated Europe and vanquished Hitler. In the first two volumes of his bestselling Liberation Trilogy, Rick Atkinson recounted how the American-led coalition fought through North Africa and Italy to the threshold of victory. Now he tells the most dramatic story of all-the titanic battle for Western Europe. (from Amazon)” – suggested by Bob
- Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, by David Sedaris (Amazon link)
“The wit and humor of David Sedaris continues in this collection of stories. As usual, there are parts that will make you laugh out loud and others that will make you cringe.” – suggested by Hu
- Country Girl: A Memoir, by Edna O’Brien
“This really looks great! A bit gossipy, and literary, remembrances of a life well- lived.” – suggested by Charles
- The Worst Hard Time: An Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, by Timothy Egan
“On top of the already debilitating Great Depression, the Dust Bowl that scoured America’s high plains in the 1930s devastated farms and families from the Dakotas to Texas, creating “black blizzards” that blew across the country as far as the East Coast. In this captivating read, Egan examines the man-made causes of this “natural” disaster, how it affected agricultural practices and policies, and shares the tragic tale of those who initially headed west with hope and survived haunted.” – suggested by Molly
- The Blood of Free Men: The Liberation of Paris, 1944, by Michael S. Neiberg
“As the Allies struggled inland from Normandy in August of 1944, the fate of Paris hung in the balance. Other jewels of Europe-sites like Warsaw, Antwerp, and Monte Cassino-were, or would soon be, reduced to rubble during attempts to liberate them. But Paris endured, thanks to a fractious cast of characters, from Resistance cells to Free French operatives to an unlikely assortment of diplomats, Allied generals, and governmental officials. Their efforts, and those of the German forces fighting to maintain control of the city, would shape the course of the battle for Europe and color popular memory of the conflict for generations to come. (from Amazon)” – suggested by Bob
- At Home: A Short History of Private Life, by Bill Bryson
“A charming examination of the myriad aspects of human’s houses and dwelling habits, Bryson educates readers on a history that reaches far beyond the four (or more!) walls of home.” – suggested by Molly
- StrengthsFinder 2.0, by Tom Rath
“Our dean suggested this book and included test which focuses on leveraging strengths rather than changing weaknesses. The online test offers a great opportunity for some introspection and the description of the strengths helps explain why we all have tasks we enjoy and others don’t!” – suggested by Hu
Other Summer Reading Possibilities
Read what the incoming freshman will be investigating this summer – the issue of food justice, both in America and specifically in Winston-Salem:
- An excerpt (the Executive Summary and Introduction) from Forsyth Futures’ January 2013 report Forsyth County’s Community Food System: A Foundation to Grow. The full report can be found online. For more information on Forsyth Futures, please visit their website.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention article, Why do we need to eat healthy?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2009 National Action Guide, State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables:What can we do?
You can also download and complete the Student Activity.
Additionally, here are a few lists from some of our favorite sources: