What You Should Be Reading This Summer

From dragons to forensics to arguing about your favorite band

May 26, 2016 9:00 am

Maybe you’re of the mind that lazy summer days are by definition anti-intellectual, meant solely for shirking responsibility and tying one on. Between the beergaritas and the fact that we may or may not be writing this besnorkeled atop a floaty toy, it would appear we agree with you.

But we’ll contend that reading is actually the perfect summer activity. Because reading is essentially doing nothing while improving yourself — your vocab, your memory, your sex appeal — all at once.

To that end, here’s a reading list for every type of reader. We’ve got your bestsellers, comic books, soon-to-be-movies and at least one peek into the forthcoming GoT book. Bonus: some great podcasts and titles for the little ones, too.

If you like …

… A little bit of everything

The Pier Falls and Other Stories by Mark Haddon

A new collection of short stories from the author of The Curious Incident of Dog in the Night-Time, which is coming up on its second year on Broadway. This new collection is diverse, poignant and critically acclaimed.

… The Revenant

The North Water by Ian McGuire

Because how could you not want to check out a book the New York Times calls “… the result of an encounter between Joseph Conrad and Cormac McCarthy in some run-down port as they offer each other a long, sour nod of recognition.”

… Road trips that lead to self-discovery

The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel

From the author of mindbender Life of Pi, an invitation to embark on a long journey NPR describes as “enchanting and disturbing.” Part mystery, part magic, High Mountains offers a completely refreshing glimpse of humanity.

… Dragons!

Winds of Winter excerpt by George R.R. Martin

Earlier this month, George R.R. Martin posted an excerpt of the as-yet-unfinished sixth Game of Thrones book Winds of Winter. You can read it here.

… Unattributed, questionably biographical tales of personal duress

Diary of an Oxygen Thief by Anonymous

It’s rare to have an origin story as deeply compelling and shrouded in mystery as that of Oxygen Thief, the self-published and anonymous (and possibly fictionalized) memoirs of an alcoholic that has been gripping readers since it was first published in 2006. Ten years later the allure hasn’t faded.


Morgue: A Life in Death by Vincent DiMaio and Ron Franscell

A deep dive into the world of forensic science by way of studying high-profile deaths. Lee Harvey Oswald exhumed. Serial killers unmasked. And the mysterious death of … van Gogh? Consider us hooked.

Serial, Making a Murderer and true-crime-wave media

Blood Defense by Marcia Clark

The famed prosecutor of the OJ Simpson spectacle tries her hand at crime writing — and to great effect. Full of familiar details from the author’s at-times very public career, fast-paced Blood Defense is the first in a new series that already has fans thirsty for more.

… The idea of running a marathon but have not yet begun training

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

The Tarahumara Indians in Mexico are able to run for hundreds of miles “without rest or injury.” This book examines why, how and what it means for the growing ranks of runners around the world. First published in 2009, Born to Run is the subject of a newly-released documentary and an impending Hollywood adaptation.

… Settling unsettleable disputes

Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me by Steven Hyden

The Beatles or the Stones? Hendrix or Clapton? Biggie or Tupac? Trace these classic divisions and others in this newest take on music criticism, which tries in earnest to make sense of the most intransigent subject of all: one’s music taste.

… Impossibly exclusive Broadway shows

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

If you can’t see the Broadway hit, at least you can read the writer/director/lead actor’s new book about it.

… Wild spaces

The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks by Terry Tempest Williams

What does it mean to alter a wild thing into a thing for human use? This is a celebration in prose of the beauty and diversity of our National Parks — a fitting tribute for their 100th year of operation.

… The first season of True Detective but thought the second was shit

Blood, Bone, and Marrow: A Biography of Harry Crews by Ted Geltner

A new biography about gritty and tormented Harry Crews sheds light on the American author’s personal stories that shaped his haunted and original voice.

… Comic books

Comixology, various titles

Comixology, a new Netflix-esque subscription service for digital comic books, just launched and already has more than 75,000 titles. Get started with The Walking Dead, Batman: The Killing Joke or Preacher, which just got turned into a TV show by the same name (AMC). Kid-friendly titles too.

… Podcasts

There are a million and one podcasts but trust us when we say they are not all created equally. Some of our favorites of late: NPR’s new Embedded, which takes deep dives into current news stories; Stuff You Should Know, which covers everything from who gets to name continents to how snake handlers work and a million other questions you didn’t know you had; Nerdist, which follows the “friends chatting about stuff” model but without being irritating and with a pop culture slant; Criminal, in which host Phoebe Judge digs up a single cold case, historical crime or oddball tale of illegality per 20- to 30-minute episode; and ShackHouse, an irreverent roundtable on pro golf produced by ESPN defector Bill Simmons and hosted by his frequent collaborator Joe House.

And something for the kids:

Sherman Alexie recently released Thunder Boy Jr., the story of a young man growing up in, and emerging from, his father’s image. A heartwarming tearjerker. There’s also this long list of illustrated books that makes us want to renew our library card.

This is but one installment of 37 Things a Man’s Gotta Do This Summer, our annual compendium of everything worth seeing, doing, eating, drinking and generally making time for in your neck of the woods between now and September

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