Summer is right around the corner — you’re so close to the finish line, you can probably taste the ice cream. Whatever treat you plan on delighting in once school is out, make sure you also have a good book with you! Below are the LogicPrep Team’s book recommendations for 2019. With stories that span from Silicon Valley to post-soviet Russia, we’re sure there’s something here for you!
Celeste Ng's 2017 novel (that just came out in paperback!) is at the top of my own summer reading list. Little Fires Everywhere is about the problems stirring beneath the surface in a picture-perfect, affluent town. A Hulu miniseries starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington is set to come out next year, so let's be sure to read the book first!
Michelle Obama chronicles the experiences that have shaped her from childhood to motherhood to work. She addresses her triumphs and disappointments, public and private, and all the expectations she met and defied. This is an easy summer read while also being inspiring and uplifting.
The Stranger is an exposé on existentialism that breaks down into two parts. The first focuses on the main character's mother's funeral, and the second part focuses on Meursault's time in jail. The most striking aspect for me was Meursault's internal dialogue, which was as stirring for me as it was for him. It's a short book that I think a lot of students can connect with as they start their next chapter.
A history of post-Soviet Russia told mostly through the eyes of young people who grew up in the 90s and saw epic changes in their country and culture: some good, some difficult, and some very, very troubling. Massa Gessen is a phenomenal writer, creating empathy with both important historical actors and common people as the world around them changes. A page turner, a heart-breaker, and vital reading for anyone interested in understanding global politics today.
The Hobbit is a gateway to a world of magic and fantasy - it's perfect for those who want to escape reality for a bit. Tolkien's descriptive style contributes to a direct and detailed narrative that helps the reader to better visualize all the elements and landscapes in the book.
Described as the "biggest case of corporate fraud since Enron," this story walks readers through unbelievable accounts of secrecy, paranoia, craftiness, and ignorance that ultimately brought a company with a $10 billion valuation at its peak to a humbling valuation of $0 in just 4 years.
If you enjoyed watching the documentary "Fyre" on Netflix (I did), you'll appreciate the scandalous deception that permeates this well-told piece of investigative journalism. I was always a little skeptical about the startup bubble while living in Silicon Valley — the grand ideas, seemingly unlimited venture capitalist money, large egos, lofty claims, etc. This book validates some of the doubts I had and reveals many of the tech industry's largely-ignored blindspots and limitations.
This is a devastatingly beautiful novel about relationships and how they might endure, change, or fracture when challenged with unimaginable obstacles. It simultaneously tells a page-turning personal story and reflects the harsh realities that some Americans face, even today.
The Empathy Exams is a collection of short essays examining the ways we feel -and feel for others - by seamlessly blending the voices of our culture at large with the lens of Jamison's own experience.
I first encountered Leslie Jamison in 2018's The Recovering, a brilliantly written piece of both memoir and cultural/literary criticism. Both works demonstrate Jamison's remarkable ability to speak clearly to the depth and importance of emotion without yielding from a sharp analytical edge that often grounds itself in a broader cultural conversation. The Empathy Exams is a structurally creative and beautifully articulated collection of writing that not only investigates the kaleidoscope of human connection, but also serves as a reminder of the importance and vitality of feeling for others.
Haruki Murakami is one of my favorite active novelists, and I would honestly recommend reading anything he has written. I chose Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimmage because it tends to rely a bit less on elements of magical realism, which makes the plot a bit easier for the reader to follow. However, Murakami's ambiguity is present as always. It is an engaging take on a journey of self-discovery and exploration in our modern world that is worth the time to read - especially if you are trying to improve on the tricky SAT or ACT fiction passages.
The Enigma of Reason takes a look a look at all the so-called "shortcomings" of human reason -- biases, inconsistencies, tendencies to embrace flawed arguments -- that have defied explanation by social scientists and explain them from an evolutionist perspective. It brings together philosophy, psychology, and anthropology to show that how, when understood in context, these shortcomings can be seen as features well-designed to their proper functions.
This book does a great job shedding light on how people think, and it draws on a diverse set of disciplines to make its case. While it feels academic, it's very accessible, I've had a lot of fun thinking about all the strange, counterintuitive ways my own mind works as I read on.
This is the first book of Eduardo Galeano's Trilogy of Fire that chronicles the history of Latin America from creation myths of pre-columbian civilizations up until the mid 20th century. Eduardo Galeano's book is lyrical, poetic and extensively researched. Anybody interested in Latin American history should give it a read. In my mind this is Galeano's best work.
Educated is the memoir of Tara Westover, who wasn't formally educated until the age of 17 and now holds a PhD from Cambridge University. Having an education and supportive parents has always been a part of my reality, and I was in disbelief to read about Westover's upbringing and realized how much I take for granted. I had every emotion when reading this book! Westover's fascinating story is heart-wrenching, shocking, liberating, and unbelievable. You won't be able to put this one down... and then you'll want to talk about it with all of your friends.
Atonement is broken into three parts, all following the life of Briony Tallis during World War II. The story centers on a pivotal moment when she was 13 and the narrative she creates around that event. It’s definitely a book that I didn’t expect to become so engulfed by, but McEwan does a great job in capturing the consequences of a single lie. I think it’s a great novel that depicts the power behind any narrative, whether it be the one we share with others or the one we tell ourselves.
Parker explores why we gather and what we can do to make our collective experiences, both personal and professional, more meaningful, productive, and potentially transformative. This book has made me more thoughtful about how to make the most of my time with others, and most importantly, how to cultivate more genuine connections in my daily interactions.
This is a really good debut novel that is at heart a family drama, but also a look at race, politics, social unrest, and religious fanaticism. I love Adichie's writing and the characters she creates here are memorable and believable. Highly recommend it!
Matthew B.’s pick:
Don't be put off by the unconventional formatting or by the fact that it's poetry. Autobiography of Red, which Anne Carson aptly describes as a "novel in verse" is, at its core, a coming of age story. It follows a young man, Geryon, as he navigates his chaotic childhood and a volatile relationship with another boy, Heracles. The story is loosely adapted from Greek mythology and manages to feel both ancient and contemporary. Strange, funny, tragic, and tender, Autobiography of Red is an unforgettable book that I would recommend to anyone in any season.
Harari examines major forces shaping societies around the world and that are likely to influence our future -- organized as a series of lessons that empower us to engage in important debate. Harari's work resonates and illuminates important issues that should concern all of us as humanists, philosophers, scholars -- as people.
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
Anna Fox lives an isolated life in Manhattan, where she spends her days drinking wine, watching movies, and spying on her neighbors. But when she sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to fall apart. This book is a gripping thriller — once you start it, you can't stop!
The main character, Mackenzie Allen Philips, is dealing with the abduction of his youngest daughter, Missy, which happened during a family vacation. He stumbles across an abandoned shack in the woods, and finds evidence that she might have been brutally murdered. Years later, he receives an anonymous note, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. While there, he does some deep soul-searching, and works through the most depressing period of his life. I loved how thoughtfully this story was told. It's faith-based, but not specific to any faith and not overbearing. Very inspirational.
Personal memoir meets philosophical exploration of the birth of the first virtual reality technologies. Lanier's account of his unorthodox youth is just as interesting as his cerebral promenades around how virtual reality may very well redefine what it means to be human. Sometimes tech gurus shy away from the artistic sides of their work. Lanier, considered a founding father of virtual reality, is also a philosopher and musical composer, so he approaches the topic from all sides. A deeply considered and explored account of his life's work in VR - highly recommended!
This short read is packed with adventure, thought-provoking themes, and exceptional writing. I love this book, and science fiction in general, because it inspires the reader to question the existing world by imagining another reality. Binti is the first book in the award-winning Binti Series trilogy and is a captivating read whether you're sci-fi fan like me or not.
& Last but not least…
Corduroy is the cutest bear! I love the pictures in this book and the colors. I love his adventure in the toy store and that someone finally takes him home. I would have taken Corduroy home too.