I love many things about summer, but I especially love summer books. I love reading all year round, but in the summer there’s a perceptible change: What for the rest of the year seems like a solitary activity bursts out into the open and becomes part of the conversation. “What are you reading?” is asked almost as often as “where are you going for vacation?” We share our recommendations — and our actual books. Some of us plan our entire season’s reading in advance, the same way we pack for a trip.
I love many things about summer, but I especially love summer books. I love reading all year round, but in the summer there’s a perceptible change: What for the rest of the year seems like a solitary activity bursts out into the open and becomes part of the conversation. “What are you reading?” is asked almost as often as “Where are you going for vacation?” We share recommendations — and we share actual books. Some of us plan our entire season’s reading in advance, the same way we pack for a trip.
Whether we embark on far-flung summer getaways or stay close to home, books have a unique ability to take us on amazing journeys. Some of us like to take along books that are set in places we travel to, while others want books about places they’d like to go — or, perhaps, would rather not go but just visit in book form.
I also love how in the summer, the reading rules we impose on ourselves are relaxed. We pick up lighter reads. We dig into mysteries, thrillers, romance novels or other “guilty pleasure” genres that we might not read at other times of the year. (I’m not sure why, though — if you enjoy something you think of as a “beach read” or an “airport book,” why deny yourself that pleasure when you’re not at a beach or an airport?)
It makes perfect sense that we associate books with vacations and travel and unplugging — especially from our phones, which are repositories of everything we need to put away to allow us to thrive, including our to-do lists and inboxes. And science has begun to validate all the different ways in which books enhance our lives. A recent study found that reading fiction can boost our empathy. Another found that books and stories have a long-term impact on children — the more children are read to, the more they develop a “theory of mind,” the ability to understand that other people have a different mental state than they do.
One of my favorite studies found that we actually read slower on pages we particularly like. We all know that feeling — when we’re reading a book we love — of stepping outside time, of becoming disconnected from our overly connected world (the reading equivalent of a “driveway moment,” when you’re driving home and listening to a radio program that’s so compelling you sit in your driveway until it ends, delaying your return to “the world” as long as possible). And one study even found that reading is associated with longevity. “These findings suggest that the benefits of reading books include a longer life in which to read them,” according to the study.
So if your list of life-enhancing, potentially life-lengthening summer books isn’t long enough, here’s the Thrive Global Summer Reading Guide, 10 titles curated by me and our Thrive Global team members who are already gearing up for a season of reading. They will all help you unplug from the world and recharge in the way that only books can.
How to Raise Successful People: Simple Lessons for Radical Results, by Esther Wojcicki
A uniquely insightful parenting guide from an author and teacher whose sage advice — along with her three incredibly successful daughters — has earned her the unofficial title of “the Godmother of Silicon Valley.” Read an excerpt here.
More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say), by Elaine Welteroth
In this part-manifesto, part-memoir, the award-winning journalist, youngest ever editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue, and an all-around inspiration explores what it means to come into your own — on your own terms. Read an excerpt here.
Drawing on decades of experience as an executive at Oprah’s Harpo Studios, Salata embarks on a journey to answer a burning question: “What happens when you realize you’ve had the career of your dreams, but you don’t have the life of your dreams?” Read an excerpt here.
A Handbook for New Stoics: How to Thrive in a World Out of Your Control — 52 Week-by-Week Lessons, by Massimo Pigliucci and Gregory Lopez. A practical guide for applying the always relevant lessons of the ancient philosophy of Stoicism to our modern and stress-filled daily lives. Read an excerpt here.
The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World, by Jamil Zaki
Combining the latest research with powerful narratives, the director of the Stanford Social Neuroscience Lab shows how we can nurture our sense of empathy and use it to change our lives and the world around us. Read an excerpt here.
The founder and managing partner of Inspired Capital shows you how to harness all the tools digital technology has to offer to boost your financial well-being. Read an excerpt here.
How to Skimm Your Life, by Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg
The co-founders of The Skimm give you essential what-you-need-to-know advice on everything from career and finances to traveling and personal growth. Read an excerpt here.
Thank You for My Dreams: Bedtime Prayers of Gratitude, by HSH Prince Alexi Lubomirski
From the official photographer of the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle comes a beautiful and practical guide for parents and children to incorporate the life-altering power of gratitude into their daily lives, one night at a time. Read an excerpt here.
Life After Suicide: Finding Courage, Comfort & Community After Unthinkable Loss, by Dr. Jennifer Ashton
The chief medical correspondent of ABC News shares her own heartbreaking story to show how families can use community to find hope and comfort after experiencing this kind of tragedy.
What No One Tells You: A Guide to Your Emotions from Pregnancy to Motherhood, by Alexandra Sacks, M.D. and Catherine Birndorf, M.D.
Becoming a mother doesn’t just change your body. Here, two leading reproductive psychiatrists offer an indispensable roadmap for how to navigate the emotions of pregnancy, childbirth and early motherhood.
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