The books you really need to read this summer

Summer is finally here, and that means it's time to relax with a good book. But what book should you read? Well, that's where we come in. We've compiled the top picks from LP (even Francois, our four-legged team member!) for you to dive into as soon as school is out. Ready, set, READ!

Duckworth was awarded the MacArthur "genius" grant for her work on the study of grit -- that quality of relentless stick-to-itiveness that predicts success better than talent, intelligence, and just about any other characteristic. What is it, and how can we develop it? I think there's no better time to come across this book than your school years, when you are discovering the passions that will coalesce into a lifelong sense of purpose, and when you are looking into a future full of the time and potential to fulfill that purpose.

A sports writer and economist team up to write a "moneyball" approach to why some teams fail and others succeed in soccer. They do a great job delving into the sometime conservative and close minded word of soccer and showing how the game is poised to change with the introduction of "big data". They also pepper the book with great soccer anecdotes. A must for any soccer fan!

The misadventures of a brilliant but deeply flawed protagonist set in New Orleans. John Kennedy Toole's sole literary effort is picaresque charmer that is full of laughs.

A wonderful exploration about how the language you’re born into at times shapes – and at times doesn’t shape – how you see the world. Also there’s a long form exploration about how humans across cultures and eras have divided the visible spectrum into different discrete colors. If you love language and ideas this book is for you   

The story of one lawyer, Ken Rose, and his team as they represent inmates on death row. The author follows one inmate's story in particular as Ken and his team tries to save him from execution. 

This book is charming and a lovely read. In this novel we experience 20th century Russia through the eyes of an aristocrat under house arrest in the high-end Hotel Metropol. I found this book to offer a refreshing and gently humorous perspective on daily life for the fallen aristocracy, through a period of political tumult and change. 

If there's one thing I know, it's that being a gentleman is important. This guide can teach even a complete dog everything he needs to know, from how to dress to how to write the best handwritten note. Two paws way up!

I first found out about this book through the New Yorker article written by the same author. The shorter snippet was a beautifully-written and completely heartbreaking precursor to an equally honest, tragic memoir of a neurosurgeon battling stage IV lung cancer. Definitely made me cry. Highly recommend it.

Through a family's story that is utterly unusual and at the same time surprisingly relatable, Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves made me reflect a lot about the experience of growing up, trust, and family relationships. This book is rich but doesn't take itself too seriously -- I found it entertaining and touching (and a good vocab-builder to boot!).  A word to those who hate spoilers, if you read this book, do NOT read the back cover first!

I first heard Bryan Stevenson when I caught an interview with him on the radio in the UK. I was very struck by his story, how as a student at Harvard law he did an internship in Georgia and met a prisoner on death row for the first time, the journey he took to becoming a lawyer and then setting up the Equal Justice Initiative to challenge the bias against the poor and against black people. After hearing the outline of his life, I just had to buy his book to fill in all the details. And it was worth it to read what an amazing difference this man has made to so many people’s lives. An inspiration.

As a huge sci-fi and fantasy geek, I loved these books as a high-school student. The story is captivating and R.A. Salvatore creates a world that's rich with lore and wonderment. 

Though Rudyard Kipling is a controversial author today for his views on race expressed in the famous "White Man's Burden" poem, Kim is a beautifully crafted tale of an orphan's coming-of-age. Kipling demonstrates a deep sense of compassion for India's people, a surprising contrast with his image today.

George Saunders' most recent book combines the true story of Abraham Linclon's son's death with the Buddhist concept of the "bardo," a transitional state between death and the afterlife. Narrated by a cast of ghosts watching the events from the bardo, this novel is too weird for words, in the best way. 

This book was assigned as required reading during one of my high-school summers. I forget which summer it was, but I do remember dutifully buying the paperback in June and then proceeding to ignore it all summer long. When September rolled around, my teacher somehow forgot to give us a reading quiz about it, and so the book stayed on my shelf, unread, a testament to my lazy summer. A couple of years ago, I was visiting my parents' house, and, looking for something to read, I picked up that old, reprimanding paperback. Once I started reading, I couldn't put the book down: it was so wise, and moving, and strangely relevant to my own life. 
Once you reach your late teens, novels that cover the whole span of a career or a life suddenly become a lot more interesting. This is one of the best such novels, I think.

This book explores the difference between good companies and those that become great!  Concepts in this book have helped me understand how to place our team members in positions that they will both thrive in and enjoy.  Great book for many of our students that want to study business.

A memoir of the author's childhood growing up in impoverished Ireland, the book is certainly sad, but no one ever mentions how funny it is, which is what makes it so uplifting. Humor carried this guy through some real tragedy.

This is a particularly relevant time in our country's history to read this beautiful novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which details individual and immigrant experiences that collide head-on with the "American dream" our history teachers tell us is ubiquitous and universally accessible. It also highlights aspects of American culture that we as readers may be blind too -- or perhaps intentionally overlooking -- through the lens of characters so relatable, you feel by the end that their stories are your own.

I can't get enough of Liane Moriarty these days, and this book might just be my favorite written by her. Life for Alice as a 29 year-old is beautiful: married to the love of her life, remodeling their first home together, and expecting their first child. After a bad accident at her Friday spin class, she wakes up after being knocked unconscious on the gym floor and learns she's actually 39, has 3 children, is in the midst of a bad divorce, and doesn't remember the last 10 years of her life. 

A blend of memoir and sociological study, this book offers unique and important perspective into the state of the working class and social mobility in America today.

Part memoir, travelogue, literary study, and stream-of-consciousness monologue, Out of Sheer Rage is undoubtedly the funniest and most profound book ever written about failing to write a book. Read this if you're someone who, like Dyer, struggles with procrastination, perfectionism, laziness, or any of the other excuses people invent to prevent themselves from doing whatever it is they want to do.

A page turner about a slave on the run. A must read for anyone interested in American History.

This book skillfully touches on the the immigrant experience, the clash of cultures, the conflicts of assimilation, and, the tangled ties between generations. The author reveals not only the defining power of the names and expectations bestowed upon us by our parents, but also the means by which we slowly, come to define ourselves. I could identify so much with this novel, coming from an immigrant family, myself.

Kurt Vonnegut is a master of crafting pulsating empathy that makes complex contemporary social discussions immediate and accessible, and Cat’s Cradle is a prime example of his singular ability. This 1963 novel is a brilliant satirical and insightful exploration of the dual-edged sword that is technological progression in our increasingly interconnected, globalized world — and it contains one of my favorite chapters of writing that I’ve ever read in my 23 years, Chapter 99.

For a long time, I judged The Bell Jar based on its melodramatic reputation and cover. One day last summer I opened the book out of curiosity, expecting a sappy, overdramatic story, and instead found a humorous story of a girl with a keen wit who works as an intern at a fashion magazine one summer in the 1950's. Of course she eventually descends into madness, but it's a madness where she never stops making fun of other people. The clear prose kept me hooked, and I was able to finish it in a day.