In The Name of Summer Reading

Whenever I tell others that I’m an English major, I always get questions about either my favorite book or what genre I like to read most. I have a hard time answering these questions because, during the school year, my reading consists primarily of class assignments, everything from James Joyce to literary theory. I spend my time amidst great books, both classics and contemporaries, but rarely get to indulge in my personal reading list.

When the summer finally rolls around, I face the difficult challenge of picking out a pile of new books at Oblong, my hometown local bookstore, to keep me occupied over the following months. My collection is always an eclectic one, consisting of quite a few contemporary novels, one or two memoirs, and usually several random picks from the staff recommendations table (the best place, in my opinion, to discover new books).  Since I have a hard time pinpointing my reading taste, I figured I would share with you all the books that have been getting me through my daily subway commute this summer and let the list speak for itself.

Below are some of the highlights:

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

After diving into Parks and Recreation this summer, I was excited to read Poehler’s memoir, full of pointed essays, knee-slapping anecdotes, and admirable honesty. I actually laughed out loud as I sat on the one train (probably looking like a crazy person to everyone else) while reading this book to and from the Beaufort Books/Spencer Hill Press office. I came to greatly appreciate Poehler’s witty, yet insightful musings on growing up, careers, and adulthood, but also her ability to capture the humor in the mundane things of everyday life.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

After reading Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day in high school, I was intrigued by the mix of mystery, love, and dystopic life in Never Let Me Go. In the same vein as Black Mirror, this book strikes eerily close to home, as Ishiguro packs the plot with an underlying commentary on the inhumane sense of detachment that accompanies technological advancements. Though quite creepy, the novel offers a unique, provocative perspective on the direction in which human life is headed.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

I am not someone who reads scientific or psychological books in particular, but Outliers has been on my reading list since my high school calculus teacher read excerpts of the book to students every day at the beginning of class as our senior year came to an end. Gladwell’s thought-provoking style of writing lays out examples, misconceptions, and statistics about the nature of success as a product of culture and opportunity, rather than intellect. Outliers is an extremely important, pertinent read at a time where college and career opportunities are more competitive than ever before.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Oryx and Crake is the one book on my list that I have yet to read, but I wanted to include it because I adore Atwood for her astute, spunky voice. As I was wandering the bookshelves at Oblong, a young woman spotted me checking out Atwood’s books and insisted that I begin the MaddAddam series (of which Oryx and Crake is the first, followed by The Year of the Flood and MaddAddam). She told me that these books would stand apart from other forward-looking titles that have been oh so trendy lately, due to Atwood’s exceptional use of language and historical undertones. I am very excited to see what this book holds, as it will most likely wrap up my summer reading.

Though different in many respects, all of these books caught my attention in some way or another. I hope my thoughts will inspire you all to check out at least one of these books before the summer ends!

-Aphra Beauhn


This is a shared blog post for Beaufort Books and Spencer Hill Press.