Check It Out Category: Summer Reading Programs

Summer Reading Category Spotlight: Science Books

reading colors your world

Astronomer and scientist Carl Sagan said, “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” Read one of these science books for your Summer Reading journey, and learn something incredible! If your curiosity demands more, an expanded list of did-you-know titles is only a click away.

 

The Bird Way: A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Think book cover

The Bird Way by Jennifer Ackerman

Have you wondered: Which bird impales its prey on thorns, but is also a beautiful singer? Which birds feed their siblings? Which give gifts, or create stunning works of art? Which destroy other birds’ creations? Is it true birds think?

Learn about these and many more idiosyncrasies in the amazing world of birds.

Accessible; Engaging

 

Apollo's Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live book cover

Apollo’s Arrow by Nicholas A. Christakis

Have you wondered: What will be the long-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic on American society? What will our nation’s recovery look like in the coming years? Was this the worst epidemic ever? Has the pandemic changed the way people view scientific information?

A science-backed look at where America could be headed in the future as the pandemic recedes.

Incisive; Persuasive

 

Chemistry for Breakfast: The Amazing Science of Everyday Life book coverChemistry for Breakfast by Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim

Have you wondered: Why does your alarm clock nearly send you reeling from your bed? How does toothpaste work on your teeth? Why do the cookies or cake you bake sometimes turn out dry? What does chemistry have to do with falling in love?

This book shows that chemistry can provide the answers to life’s quirky questions.

Captivating; Accessible

 

Cosmic Queries: StarTalk's Guide to Who We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We're Going book cover

Cosmic Queries by Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Have you wondered: How old is the universe? Is there intelligent life beyond Earth? What is our place in the universe? How will it all end?

An enlightening look at these and other perennial questions about our world.

Thought-Provoking; Engaging

 

The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet book coverThe New Climate War by Michael E. Mann

Have you wondered: Is the best way to fight climate change up to individual citizens? Are we really making a difference by recycling, flying less, or eating less red meat? Are fossil fuel companies just deflecting blame? How can real change be obtained?

Become an informed citizen in the fight against climate change with the ideas in this book.

Compelling; Hopeful

 

The Musical Human: A History of Life on Earth book cover

The Musical Human by Michael Spitzer

Have you wondered: Where did music come from? Why does music play such an important part of our lives? Does music have a connection with the animal world? How did cultural attitudes through the centuries define music?

An in-depth look at the fundamental role music plays in human lives.

Thought-Provoking; Engaging

 

A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and its Assault on the American Mind book cover

A Terrible Thing to Waste by Harriet A. Washington

Have you wondered: What is environmental poisoning? Do chemicals and toxins actually lower intelligence? Why are high levels of harmful chemicals disproportionately found in communities of color? What can citizens do to advocate for less toxic environments?

This important book has the ability to provoke outrage and inspire debate about the damage being done to marginalized communities due to high levels of toxins.

Well-Researched; Evocative

 

Summer Reading Category Spotlight: Positive Change Makers

reading colors your world

The Positive Change-Makers in Nonfiction category for Summer Reading highlights those who have impacted communities and history for the greater good. A few of our favorites are featured below, and even more lives of inspiration may be discovered here.

 

She Came to Slay: The Life and Times of Harriet Tubman book cover

 

She Came To Slay: The Life and Times of Harriet Tubman by Erica Armstrong Dunbar

A lively, informative and illustrated tribute to one of the most exceptional women in American history–Harriet Tubman–looks at a heroine whose fearlessness and activism still resonates today.

Engaging; Well-Researched

 

Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self Love book cover

 

Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self Love by Jonathan Van Ness

The style-expert star of Queer Eye shares deeply personal stories from his Midwestern childhood, revealing how he channeled his passions and setbacks into the positive energy that shaped his signature brand.

Funny; Upbeat

 

The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke book cover

 

The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke by Jeffrey C. Stewart

The definitive biography of the father of the Harlem Renaissance. Explore the education of Alain Locke, including his becoming the first African American Rhodes Scholar and earning a PhD in philosophy at Harvard University, and his long career as a professor.

History; Inspiring

 

Fearless Women: Courageous Females Who Refused to be Denied book cover

 

Fearless Women: Courageous Females Who Refused to Be Denied by Toby Reynolds

Profiles thirty-six women who fought for freedom, and forged new paths to help change society, including such notables as Rosa Parks, Malala Yousafzai, Jane Goodall, Maya Angelou, and Amelia Earhart.

Thought-Provoking; Well-Researched

 

Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America's Most Powerful Mobster book cover

 

Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down American’s Most Powerful Mobster by Stephen L. Carter

Author Stephen L. Carter traces the story of his grandmother, an African-American attorney who, in spite of period barriers, devised the strategy that sent mafia chieftain Lucky Luciano to prison in the 1930s.

True Crime; Engaging

 

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare book cover

 

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare by Stephen Greenblat

A portrait of Elizabethan England and how it contributed to the making of William Shakespeare discusses how he moved to London lacking money, connections, and a formal education and rose to become his age’s foremost playwright.

History; Richly Detailed

 

Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina book cover

 

Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland

Documents the author’s emotionally dynamic effort to become the third African-American soloist in the history of the American Ballet Theatre, describing the harsh family difficulties she overcame including her mother’s highly publicized custody battle to halt her career.

Inspiring; Moving

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations...One School at a Time book cover

 

Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations-One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson

Traces how the author, having been rescued and resuscitated by Himalayan villagers after a failed attempt to climb K2, worked to build schools that would particularly benefit the young girls who were forbidden an education by Taliban restrictions.

Impassioned; Thought-Provoking

 

Summer Reading Category Spotlight: Read a Book that Colors True Events

reading colors your world

Looking for some interesting nonfiction reading for your summer reading category? Try a memoir or biography! Access a suggested list here, or read on for some of our favorites:

crying in h mart book cover

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Michelle, the Japanese Breakfast indie pop star presents a full-length account of her viral New Yorker essay to share poignant reflections on her experiences of growing up Korean-American, becoming a professional musician and caring for her terminally ill mother.

“It felt like the world had divided into two different types of people, those who had felt pain and those who had yet to.”
― Michelle Zauner, Crying in H Mart

 

 

more myself book cover

More Myself: A Journey by Alicia Keys

The 15-time Grammy Award-winning music artist traces her journey from self-censorship to full expression, describing her complicated
relationship with her father, the people-pleasing nature that
characterized her early career and her struggles with gender expectations.

“Growth requires movement. And often, the only way forward is through an exit door.” Alicia Keys, More Myself

 

 

memorial drive book cover

Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir by Natasha Trethewey

The former U.S. poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning author shares a chillingly personal memoir about the brutal murder of her mother at the hands of her former stepfather.

“I have always loved the feel of books, the way they give a literal weight to words and make of them a sacred object.”
― Natasha Trethewey, Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir

 

 

 

Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In book cover

Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In by Phuc Tran

In this coming-of-age memoir told through the themes of great books,  Tran navigates the push and pull of finding and accepting himself
despite the challenges of immigration, feelings of isolation, and teenage rebellion, all while attempting to meet the rigid expectations set by his immigrant parents.

“My father loved the library because it was a safe haven for him – no missed cultural cues, no bigoted insults from his coworkers, no glaring reminders of what was lost. All patrons of the library were pilgrims to the oracle all seeking the sake thing: knowledge. And in their pursuits of the same thing, they were all equals.”

― Phuc Tran, Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In

 

Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath book coverRed Comet: The Short and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath by Heather Clark

A new biography of Sylvia Plath that focuses on her remarkable
literary and intellectual achievements, while restoring the woman
behind the long-held myths about her life and art.

“What other woman would dare to draw blood with a kiss?” ― Heather Clark, Red Comet

 

 

 

A Delayed Life: The True Story of the Librarian of Auschwitz by Dita Kraus

Dita Kraus grew up in Prague in an intellectual, middle-class Jewish family. She went to school, played with her friends, and never thought of herself as being different—until the advent of the Holocaust. Torn from her home, Dita was sent to Auschwitz with her family. Dita’s
powerful memoir sheds light on an incredible life—one that is delayed no longer.

“No longer do I wait till…till the war ends, till we are liberated, till I marry, till the child is born, till we have more money, till the school year ends, till peace comes…I need not delay anymore; I have caught up with my life.” ― Dita Kraus, A Delayed Life

Trending Summer Reads for Adults

reading colors your world

Summer Reading is ramping up and trending books have been spotted! Below are some of the titles trending so far. Anything read since June 1st counts towards Summer Reading, sign up or log into Beanstack to join this colorful reading journey.

 

You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey book cover

You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar

Now a writer and performer on Late Night with Seth Meyers and host of The Amber Ruffin Show, Amber Ruffin lives in New York, where she is no one’s First Black Friend and everyone is, as she puts it, “stark raving normal.” But Amber’s sister Lacey? She’s still living in their home state of Nebraska, and trust us, you’ll never believe what happened to Lacey. From racist donut shops to strangers putting their whole hand in her hair, from being mistaken for a prostitute to being mistaken for Harriet Tubman, Lacey is a lightning rod for hilariously ridiculous yet all-too-real anecdotes.

 

People we Meet on Vacation book cover

 

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

With one week to win back the best friend she might just be in love with, a travel writer plans the trip of a lifetime.

 

 

magic fish book cover

 

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen

Real life isn’t a fairytale. But Tien still enjoys reading his favorite stories with his parents from the books he borrows from the local library. It’s hard enough trying to communicate with your parents as a kid, but for Tien, he doesn’t even have the right words because his parents are struggling with their English. Is there a Vietnamese word for what he’s going through? Is there a way to tell them he’s gay?

 

the midnight library book cover

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. Nora finds herself faced with the possibility of changing her life, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life.

 

The Guest List book cover

 

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

An expertly planned celebrity wedding between a rising television star and an ambitious magazine publisher is thrown into turmoil by petty jealousies, a college drinking game, the bride’s ruined dress and an untimely murder.

 

 

Anxious People book cover

 

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Taken hostage by a failed bank robber while attending an open house, eight anxiety-prone strangers—including a redemption-seeking bank director, two couples who would fix their marriages and a plucky octogenarian—discover their unexpected common traits.

 

 

House in the Cerulean Sea book cover

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Linus Baker is a by-the-book case worker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He’s tasked with determining whether six dangerous magical children are likely to bring about the end of the world. Arthur Parnassus is the master of the orphanage. He would do anything to keep the children safe, even if it means the world will burn. And his secrets will come to light. The House in the Cerulean Sea is an enchanting story about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place–and realizing that family is yours.

 

Becoming book cover

 

Becoming by Michelle Obama

An intimate memoir by the former First Lady chronicles the experiences that have shaped her remarkable life, from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago through her setbacks and achievements in the White House.

 

 

The Thursday Murder Club book cover

 

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Meeting weekly in their retirement village’s Jigsaw Room to exchange theories about unsolved crimes, four savvy septuagenarians propose a daring but unorthodox plan to help a woman rookie cop solve her first big murder case.

 

 

Vanishing Half book cover

 

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Twin sisters, inseparable as children, ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.

 

 

the wife upstairs book cover

 

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

Supplementing her modest income by stealing small valuables from her gated-community clients, a broke dog-walker endeavors to win the heart of a wealthy bachelor before learning his late wife’s own rags-to-riches story.

 

 

On the Way to the Wedding book cover

 

On The Way To The Wedding by Julia Quinn

Gregory Bridgerton has fallen head over heels for gorgeous Hermione Watson, despite the fact she is in love with another, and joins forces with Hermione’s best friend, Lady Lucinda Abernathy, to stop the disastrous alliance, but love has its own way of turning everything upside down.

 

malibu rising book cover

 

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Four famous siblings throw an epic end-of-summer party that goes dangerously out of control as secrets and loves that shaped this family’s generations come to light, changing their lives forever.

Summer Reading Bonus Category Spotlight: Choose Book by Cover

reading colors your world

Want to stretch your reading this summer? Adult Summer Reading offers bonus categories for this very goal, and one of the playful ways to start is to choose by book cover: Color your world by trying a Millennial Pink book. [Wondering what ‘millennial pink’ may be? Try here for a lighthearted explanation.] Following are a few of the eye-catching titles that have millennial pink covers. For more summer reading suggestions, email readers@mppl.org or find the links for each bonus category in Beanstack or in Lists & Suggestions.

severance book cover

 

Severance by Ling Ma

A survivor of an apocalyptic plague maintains a blog about a decimated Manhattan before joining a motley group of survivors to search for a place to rebuild, a goal that is complicated by an unscrupulous group leader.

Character-driven; Witty

 

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird book cover

 

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver

A woman grieving the loss of her fiancé finds herself swapping back and forth between parallel lives, including one in which her first love has survived and another involving a new person who is asking her to move on.

Engaging; Thoughtful

 

gingerbread book cover

 

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi

Draws on the classic fairy-tale element of gingerbread in the story of a British family whose surprising legacy and secret past are tied to a favorite recipe.

Compelling; Lyrical

 

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me book cover

 

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki

Laura Dean, the most popular girl in high school, was Frederica Riley’s dream girl, but Freddy is learning she is not the best girlfriend, so she seeks help from a mysterious medium and advice columnists to help her through being a teenager in love.

Angst-filled; Character-driven

 

lovely war book cover

 

Lovely War by Julie Berry

Meeting in a World War II-era Manhattan hotel for a forbidden tryst, immortals Ares and Aphrodite are caught by the latter’s jealous husband before she defends her actions by imparting the tale of four young humans who became connected during World War I.

Moving; Romantic

 

city of margins book cover

 

City of Margins by William Boyle

The lives of several lost souls intersect in gritty 1990s south Brooklyn, from a disgraced ex-cop with blood on his hands to the grieving mother of a suicide victim.

Compelling; Gritty