Summer Reading Guide

by Abi Hillrich

For the Poet:

Life on Mars is a collection of poetry published in 2011. Written as an elegy for her father – who worked on the Hubble spacecraft – it is full of remarkable imagery. Life on Mars won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize. Smith’s collection is poetry at its best: a refreshing mix of emotion and thought-provoking observation.
If you’re in the mood for some existentialism this summer, look no further. Sexton’s poetry addresses faith in a straightforward, understandable way. This collection, specifically focused on her ideas of God, cultivates healthy questions.

If You Have A Short Attention Span:

Ray Bradbury, a well-renowned science-fiction writer, does not disappoint with this collection of short stories. Not only does each piece have its own engaging plot line, but Bradbury also connects the stories in an overarching narrative of humans’ attempts to colonize Mars after Earth has reached its final use.
Fitzgerald’s first collection of short stories, Flappers and Philosophers, is a fantastic summer read. It is full of realistic fiction in the style and time of 1920s New York, classically combining the drama of young love with Fitzgerald’s familiar simplicity. Perfect for sitting by the pool, pretending you’re a part of the class of the Roaring 20s.

To Prepare for Binge-Watching a New TV Show:

In American Gods, Gaiman blends mythology and fantasy with the modern world. A tale with the foundation that gods and creatures exist in the world as long as people believe in them, it is full of suspense. American Gods follows the adventures of mythical beings such as Odin, a leprechaun, and Anubis as they seek to conquer evil with good. The network “Starz” recently aired the first episode in this new series.
This story paves the way in the post-apocalyptic genre. A classic tale, Atwood creates a hierarchy with a group of ‘handmaids’ on the bottom. Handmaids are used for rich couples to bear children without having to undergo any of the difficulties this process involves. Following the narrator, The Handmaid’s Tale is a painful warning of the misuse and corruption of power.

To Curl Up On The Couch and Read For Days:

In Cloud Atlas, Mitchell expertly examines the lives of six people across space and time. The story that unfolds will not only capture your attention, but keep you thinking about nothing else. Cloud Atlas is not for the faint of heart; it is for those who love to commit to a great story. (There’s also a film, but books are always better.)
Doerr portrays his remarkably unique point of view following the story of a blind girl’s search for truth and meaning in a world wrought with war. A winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize and the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, this novel is truly deserving of recognition. Its raw emotion and captivating characters make it the perfect book to give hours of your attention to.

For the Artist:


A coming of age novel, Blankets follows the path of a young boy that falls in love at church camp. Through the book, Thompson addresses themes of doubt, young love, and growing up. The art in this novel embraces muted pastels and classic style. Blankets is a quick read that will leave you with a lot to think about.
Following the story of a girl trying to open her own restaurant, this novel keeps the reader engaged all the way through. It wrestles with how to cope with making mistakes, and the importance of looking forward instead of remaining fascinated with the past. O’Malley, the author of the “Scott Pilgrim vs the World” graphic novel series, hits another homerun with Seconds.

To Expand Your Worldview:

Written by a Nigerian author, Every Day is For the Thief follows a Nigerian man who had lived in America for a while but returns to his country. Through his new perspective, the protagonist realizes how much he has changed, and how little his home has. What used to be familiar now just confuses him. This novel contains the sorrow of change in a way that educates others about the difficulty of culture shock.
A french novel, The Elegance of the Hedgehog explores the human experience. This novel was translated from french by Alison Anderson and was published in English in 2008. Barbury does a fantastic job of incorporating references to iconic literature, music, films, and art. Focusing on the main character’s relationships with the people in her life, The Elegance of the Hedgehog provokes thought of one’s own seemingly mundane pastimes, and the ways in which we attempt to hide our true selves from those we care about.

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