After months of dull class readings, summer’s arrival brings the opportunity to dive into some more interesting works of literature. With this in mind, here are seven reads to fill your free time this summer.
1. Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe
If you’re looking to travel Europe without paying for international airfare, Bill Bryson’s 1991 travelogue is the book for you. Bryson retraces the path he backpacked as a college student in the early 1970’s, from Hammerfest, Norway to Istanbul, Turkey. His wry commentary and keen observation of local life will keep you laughing while his descriptions of Alpine hamlets and seaside villas will satisfy your European wanderlust.
2. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
Celebrity scientist Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s fifth book is blessedly unlike the dull readings assigned in introductory astronomy classes. Instead, it is a collection of essays in which Tyson addresses the basic questions of the universe in layman’s terms. The lack of technical jargon makes the daunting subject accessible while Tyson’s enthusiasm for the field makes it exciting. A book for those looking to brush up on their science skills without getting too academic.
3. Shutter Island
Dennis Lehane’s psychological thriller is perfect reading for late summer nights--it hooks the reader into every twist and turn of its disturbing plot, making it impossible to put down. The book follows U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his partner as they investigate the disappearance of a patient from the notorious Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane. As with every good mystery novel, nothing is as it seems, and the book’s conclusion is at once heart-pounding and heartbreaking.
4. Beren and Lúthien
J. R. R. Tolkien attempted several times throughout his life to finish and publish this love epic, which mirrors his own relationship with his wife. His son Christopher has assembled the various unfinished versions into one collection that was released June 1. The resulting whole tells the tale of mortal Beren and his Elven love, Lúthien, whose father’s disapproval of the relationship sends the couple on a series of quests and adventures. Tolkien fans and romantics alike will rejoice in the fantastical tale that is pure summer escapism.
5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
June 26 marked the 20th anniversary of the publication of J. K. Rowling’s first novel in the UK. The seminal Potter novel introduced the world to such loveable characters as Hagrid, Professor Dumbledore, Hedwig the owl, the Weasley family and, of course, the Boy Who Lived himself. Take the anniversary as an excuse to enjoy a mug of butterbeer and relive the wizarding world of your childhood.
6. The Handmaid’s Tale
Interest in Margaret Atwood’s classic dystopian novel has recently been rekindled due to its adaptation into a TV series starring Elisabeth Moss. The story takes place in the wake of an uprising that overthrows the U. S. government and severely limits human and women’s rights. It is narrated by Offred, a “handmaid” used solely for reproductive purposes. Her story is one of the principal examples of patriarchal confrontation in English literature. A must-read before season two of the TV series premieres on Hulu.
7. Mr. Right Swipe
In her hilarious debut, Atlanta-based writer Ricki Schultz delivers a relatable tale of the horrors and triumphs of online dating. When given an ultimatum by her friends--find a wedding date in five weeks--Rae Wallace takes to a dating app to prove that modern romance is not beyond her. When a familiar face appears, however, the story takes a delightful turn for the worst. With just enough sharp, insightful humor to prevent it from becoming a rom-com, the book is riotous summer fun. Enjoy by a pool or on a beach with a drink in hand.