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An Eclectic List of Nine Books to Read Over the Summer

by Janell Schroeder, Poetry Editor

School is coming to an end, which only means one thing. More time to read books! Here’s nine great reads to keep you entertained while quarantined.

If you can’t jog over to the library because they’re too good at social distancing, check out the app Overdrive! With a library card, this app grants you access to your library’s entire ebook and audiobook collection. You can even connect to your university’s library! Overdrive is available for iOS, Androids, and Windows. This post isn’t sponsored, we just think Overdrive is a great app!

With that said, let’s get into it!

1. Sing Unburied Sing, Jesmyn Ward

The tale of one family and how they interact with each other. A story of ghosts (figurative and literal), masculinity, and family magic. I have a complicated relationship with this book, but I’ve been thinking about it since I read it for class in January. Very much worth the read.

2. The Marrow Thieves, Cherie Dimaline

A tale of post-apocalyptic Canada. Don’t blow it off by that description, it’s a story that flips all post-apocalyptic tropes on their heads. In a world where people stopped dreaming, Frenchie, a teenaged indigenous boy, must find a way for he and his found family to survive. It’s a story of survival, what it means to be indigenous, and the love between family.

3. Kindred, Octavia Butler

An American classic. Kindred is the 1979 story of how Dana, a young black woman, accidentally goes back in time to the Maryland before the civil war. She meets her ancestors, gets into a lot of trouble, and jumps back and forth in time more than once. It’s thrilling, sobering, and entertaining. A fan of comic books? Check out the comic adaptation by Damian Duffy, John Jennings, and Octavia Butler herself.

4. The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

Bored out of your mind? Need something to take up 10+ hours? Already read Lord of the Rings? Sanderson’s door stop of a book is the high fantasy book for you! Crazy names, crazy magic, a story as captivating as the high fantasy genre. A decent introduction to Sanderson’s work, don’t be daunted by the page count, it’s worth the read.

5. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot

The nonfiction, true story of one woman’s unwitting contribution to modern science. Read about how Henrietta’s cells revolutionized modern science and cancer treatment. Remember her name.

6. 1984, George Orwell

Another classic that you may be bored of, but the premise is starting to seem more and more familiar in our modern world. Beware big brother. If you didn’t read 1984 in high school, get on it! Besides, who doesn’t love reading banned books?

7. The Mabinogion

A collection of medieval Welsh stories what have just as much drama as Grey’s Anatomy. These stories influenced modern culture more than we know. Ever wonder where the magical cauldron trope came from? Find the answer in The Mabinogion!

8. The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare

Of course, a Shakespeare play had to make the list. But rather than bore you with the ones we’ve already read in class I suggest The Merchant of Venice. It’s a comedy with romance, drama, and race relations. What more could you ask from the classic bard?

9. From Totems to Hip-Hop: A Multicultural Anthology of Poetry Across the Americas, Ishmael Reed

I had many, many poetry compilations to include in this list, but Reeds collection won the final place. He includes poems from well known authors like Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway to authors nobody knew yet, including his own students! I’m not huge on compilations, but this one will have a proud place on my bookshelf for years to come for its fiery and intense energy.

Tell us what you are reading in the comments!

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