Summer Reading Roundup: Titles to Enthrall, to Stoke Your Wonder

Eric Spreng
Jun 11, 2015 · 6 min read

How will you use reading as a way to push yourself as a thinker and a person this summer? (But just as important — what will you read for fun?)

Here’s a roundup of some recent (and some not-so-recent) reads that are sure to keep your brainwaves pulsing this summer.

Young Adult (YA) Fiction

We Were Liars (E. Lockhart)

A beautiful, well-off family summers together on an idyllic private island. All should be perfect, but the tension is palpable.

Grasshopper Jungle (Andrew Smith)

A realistic story of kid named Austin, 16, and his sometimes complicated feelings for his best friend and his girlfriend. That is, until the man-eating praying mantises show up. The six-foot-tall praying mantises, “Unstoppable Soldiers,” by contrast, do not seem all that complicated:

The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)

Historical fiction set in WWII. Narrated by Death. Intriguing, no?

Historical Fiction

All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr)

A sweeping, beautiful tale of a young girl in Paris and a young boy in Germany leading up to WWII.

African Lit

The Icarus Girl (Helen Oyeyemi)

Helen Oyeyemi, who was born in Nigeria and grew up in England, wrote this novel when she was still in school studying for her final exams!

A Grain of Wheat (Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o)

Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is set at the moment of first contact in Nigeria; Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s novel takes place on the eve of independence in Kenya.

Every Day Is for the Thief (Teju Cole)

A man with two cultures returns to his origin, and discovers he is no longer the same.

Literary Fiction / Classics

1984 (George Orwell)

In the cultural moment of the dystopian #YA novel, rediscover the greatest dystopia ever written.

The Metamorphosis (Franz Kafka)

I mean, the man is living his life and then he mysterious turns into a cockroach. WTF?!

The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Neil Gaiman)


Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China (Evan Osnos)

Evan Osnos, former Beijing corespondent for the New Yorker, takes you beyond the headlines to glimpse the culture, politics and economics of this rapidly changing country. Osnos’ anecdotes and analysis provide a nuanced view of a country often times feared and misunderstood from afar.

Blink (Malcolm Gladwell)

Is it possible to think without thinking? When we make split-second decisions, what resources do we draw upon? Can we call that instinct? Is instinct a kind of knowledge?

The Empathy Exams: Essays (Leslie Jamison)

Math / Economics

A Beautiful Math: John Nash, Game Theory, and the Modern Quest for a Code of Nature (Tom Siegfried)

You’ve heard of the Prisoner’s Dilemma. Now let’s go deeper…

The Joy of x: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity (Steven H. Strogatz)

This collection of vignettes explores “math’s greatest hits.” Whether you think you’re good at math, or you hate the way the subject is taught in school — this book will make you marvel at the beauty and mystery that is all around us.

Science / Medicine

The Edge of the Sky: All You Need to Know About the All-There-Is (Roberto Trotta)

The Scalpel and the Silver Bear: The First Navajo Woman Surgeon Combines Western Medicine and Traditional Healing (Lori Arviso Alvord)

The memoir of one remarkable woman.

Ask a Friend?

Finally, what would YOU add to this list? (I’m especially interested to hear from those of you who are in high school!) Tweet at me — @ericspreng or leave your suggestions as a comment.

The Synapse

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Eric Spreng

Written by

High school English teacher by profession & vocation. Committed writer, traveler, maker of music.

The Synapse

Authentic voices in education. To join us, tweet @synapsepub.