Summer is (almost) here, and you've earned the right to relaxation. Whether you're planning to spend your summer at the beach or you're traveling somewhere new, don't forget to bring along a book. Each year, the LP family (even Marcel, our four-legged team member, contributed this year!) compiles their top picks for the summer, and we're confident you'll find something you'll like from the list below.
Adam O's pick:
Published in 2015, in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, this book takes the form of an address by Coates to his teenage son about the history and continuing struggle of African-Americans (particularly African-American men) in the United States. For the many of us who have not experienced this struggle firsthand and never will, the book is a necessary eye-opener, and for those who have already considered the struggle deeply, an eye-widener. Coates viscerally brings home the perpetual fear that young black men live in by repeatedly returning the focus to his own body: to his understanding, throughout his own life, that his body -- his life -- could be wrested from him at any time by a system that constantly flexes its power over him and those like him. A powerful reminder that America contains many different worlds for its many different citizens, and that progress depends on a deeper understanding of all of them.
Kurt Vonnegut's sardonic second novel details the doomed martian invasion of Earth as seen through the eyes of Malachi Constant, a fabulously wealthy and lucky man. Constant's epic journey eventually ends on Titan, a moon of Saturn, and is juxtaposed throughout the novel with themes of American aristocracy, fate, and the space-time continuum. Stylistically, it's dark and existential -- similar in style to David Sedaris or Chuck Palahniuk -- but ultimately enjoyable because it makes the reader feel that even if life is random, and we are not in control of our ultimate fate, we have the ability to enjoy each other's company and experience love in many different forms.
Atlantic writer Derek Thompson’s first book Hit Makers is a nonfiction exploration of the last 100 years of media and the economics and psychology of pop culture. Eminently readable, the argument dances between anecdotes and case studies as varied as French Impressionism and Star Wars, “Rock Around the Clock” and “Lemonade,” and War and Peace and Fifty Shades of Grey. His core insight is actually borrowed from industrial designer Raymond Loewy, whose guiding maxim, “most advanced yet acceptable” (or MAYA), becomes a blueprint for Thompson’s argument that “hits” straddle a precarious line between newness and familiarity. Building on this fairly intuitive core insight, Thompson goes on to challenge traditional narratives about what makes things go “viral,” and makes some interesting claims about the last century’s greatest hits along the way. The book came out in 2016, so it (refreshingly) avoids interpreting everything retrospectively through the lens of the 2016 presidential election, though its theses certainly remain relevant to media today. Of practical interest to anyone with an entrepreneurial streak and general interest to anyone fascinated by media and pop culture, or who’s found themselves wondering why they can’t get “Call Me Maybe” out of their head.
Set in Los Angeles in the midst of the Great Depression, Ask the Dust tells the story of a struggling writer a glimmer of hope during a hopeless time. What I love so much about this book is the how Fante is able to capture the realness and nature of relationships.
A book written in the style of magical realism.
A book of essays about famous animals. From beloved pets of the famous to artistic subjects to explorer apes and world-changing discoveries - I couldn't put this book down!
By now we all know about Elon Musk and the incredible innovations of Tesla and SpaceX but Ashlee Vance tells who Elon is and how he got to the place that he is today. At a time that sustainable businesses and tech are two of the most sought-after fields, we are able to peek behind the curtain and see how two of the giants in this space were built and almost failed on numerous occasions. A must-read for anyone that is interested in the field of business, technology, sustainability, or innovation.
This book is about the incredible adventures of a man who lived in the countryside of Spain and was so obsessed with calvary books that he thought he was actually living in one.
I'm more than a little late to the game, but Americanah provides a fascinating window into some of the subtleties (and not-so-subtleties) of the issue of race in America... all embedded in a captivating personal story. A must-read, even if you're behind like I am!
Like John Irving's more famous works, The World According to Garp and Cider House Rules, The Hotel New Hampshire offers a blend of humor and tragedy in a coming-of-age novel that features both cosmopolitan and uniquely American characters. The eclectic cast of characters made this one of my favorite novels to read in high school, and I recommend it highly to anyone navigating adolescence or simply seeking an engaging tale.
Tells the story of Hannah and Anna, two young girls who face exile in two respective timelines. Hannah's family seeks sanctuary in pre-WWII Germany and Anna's in post-9/11 NYC. The link between the two women is uncovered as this sobering story illuminates two people coping with isolation, loss, and fear during two cataclysmic periods of human history.
This super quick read allowed me to engage thoughtfully in conversations about the current political climate -- not just regurgitating what I heard on the news, but placing today's administration in the context of history and political theory. And it's written so clearly that even an engineering major like me could understand (without falling asleep mid-sentence)!
I initially picked this book up for the thriller aspect but was sucked in by the detailed history of the 1893 World's Fair. An all-time favorite of mine, The Devil in the White City intertwines the rich, exciting history of the Chicago World's Fair and the horror of H. H. Holmes, an American serial killer, who used the fair to lure his victims to their death. A thrilling historical non-fiction novel-- what more could you want?
Tartt's novel is an exciting ride, "a murder mystery in reverse," as she depicts the tale not of who killed poor Bunny, but why? The book follows six friends in their educational journey about truth, beauty, and tragedy. While examining the virtues and vices that fuel ancient philosophies, they may or may not use what they learn in class to justify their actions, and moreover, inspire them in the first place.
This book, by Sheryl Sandberg, is a personal and practical take on how to foster resilience - in yourself and in others - after unthinkable tragedy. It has been a tremendously valuable resource for me and one that I've shared with every member of our team.
Given to me as a gift when I was a pup, perhaps I like this book because I share the same name with the cute shell. Two paws up for this charming book filled with funny pictures!
What is college for? To lead you towards a successful life? A meaningful life? OK, sure, but then what does that mean? Excellent Sheep is required reading for anyone going -- or dreaming of going -- to a selective school. The book argues that the nation’s elite institutions aren't doing a very good job of teaching students to ask the biggest questions about their lives: What are my values? What is my purpose? If you want to use your education to build a self, and not just a resume, then give this book a read.
A delightful children's tale about words and numbers.
Christopher McCandless, son of wealthy parents, graduates from Emory University as a top student and athlete. However, instead of embarking on a prestigious and profitable career, he chooses to give his savings to charity, rid himself of his possessions, and set out on a journey to the Alaskan wilderness.
The main character catches daily glimpses of a couple from the window of her train. She begins to make up her own story lines about the couple and begins to believe that her story is true life. One day, she witnesses something shocking and strange unfold in the backyard of the couple's home. She tells the authorities what she thinks she saw after learning that the woman in the couple is missing. Unable to decipher between her made up story and actual truth, she decides to do her own investigation. Meanwhile, she becomes a suspect, as police start to believe that she may have crossed a dangerous line.
Brilliant account of a 1979 Jailbird.
In one of the most important and beloved Latin American works of the twentieth century, Isabel Allende weaves a luminous tapestry of three generations of the Trueba family, revealing both triumphs and tragedies. The House of the Spirits is an enthralling saga that spans decades and lives, twining the personal and the political into an epic novel of love, magic, and fate.
This book is a collection of essays that originally appeared in The New York Times. Each essay focuses on a writer's exploration of a location that also inspired a famous author's work. If your favorite part of reading is being transported to a new place, this book will make your imagination soar!