Summer Readings 2016

Actually, any time is a good time to read, as far as I am concerned. Here’s this summer’s reading list compiled mainly of books I have read and some books that are still on my list.


Yes, I still read book-books.

So… Let’s start with those I already read! Because anything else would be weird.

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert is a science/alternate history book about a fictional character called Alma Whittaker, who figures out evolution before Darwin does. If you like science and travel, you will like this one. I also love Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love, because it is one of the most underrated and wrongly categorized books I have ever read.

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver is about a young woman living on a farm in rural Tennessee. One day she discovers a huge number of Monarch butterflies wintering in her backyard that are not supposed to be in this region, but seem to have been dissuaded by climate change. This novel is excellently written, and occasionally very funny. Loved it.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been on my list for a while now and I am really glad I finally got to read it. A young student from Nigeria studies in the United States and returns home after 15 years. I have a crush in this book, but deep in my heart I know it’s not mutual, so I am too shy to bring it up. Ifemelu is a wonderful character. Also, Dreams from My Father is mentioned a couple of times, so I will be adding that to the list.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a beautifully written novella about a week in the life of Auri, a very strange and mysterious young woman that I came to love dearly. Patrick Rothfuss created this magnificent minor character for The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear (both excellent). Like everyone I am eagerly awaiting book 3.

The First Bad Man by Miranda July is one of the strangest books I have ever read. This book makes eccentric little me feel comfortably non-weird. There is color therapy involved.

The Beach by Alex Garland is apparently a classic travel/backpacker novel with a bit of a cult following (and “everyone” knows the movie with Leo). I enjoyed reading it and found it quite absorbing, either despite or because of the gore, disillusionment and insanity. Good read.

Fates and Furies by is (so far) the only book I read this summer that I didn’t like, despite it being one of Barack Obama’s favorites. I found both the characters and the plot fairly bland and pointless and I didn’t appreciate the style. This is book the only one on this list that I cannot recommend. Shame.  Maybe I’ll have to check out Hillary Clinton’s recommendations instead.

The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas follows legendary assassin Celeana Sardothien from her surprise release from a prison camp to the capital, where she has to keep fighting for her life under very dubious circumstances. There is some trauma, despair, and violence, but also love, hope and magic, as in any good fantasy novel.

A Court of Thorns and Roses series, also fantasy, also by Sarah J. Maas, is similarly dark, cruel, sexy and filled with suspense and figures a few more fae, if you are inclined that way. I may have liked it even better than Throne of Glass, because it has even more deceptions.

The Queen of the Tearling series by Erika Johansen features Kelsea as a very inexperienced queen, who claims her throne after having been hidden from the world and an uncle, who would really like to see her dead. I really liked this main character, because she is not conventionally beautiful or unrealistically skilled or charming. There may be time travel involved.

Interesting non-fiction:

History: A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn is a truly excellent history book. Yes, you should read this.

Politics: Dissent by Col. (ret.) Ann Wright and Susan Dixon is a collection of interviews and documents related to opposition to George W. Bush’s Iraq war. After I met author Ann Wright with the group Code Pink earlier this year, I wanted to know more about her work and I enjoyed this glimpse behind the scenes.

Behavior: Risk Savvy by Gerd Gigerenzer illustrates the difference between risk and uncertainty by using mathematical and psychological models. Interesting, smart and fairly easy to follow.

Taiwan: Fettnäpfchenführer Taiwan (in German) by Deike Lautenschläger is about the peculiarities of Taiwanese culture. Deike used to be my colleague for the four or so months I was teaching German in Taiwan. She still lives and teaches there and has been in Taipei for many years now, so she knows what she is talking about.


Yet to read:

  • Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
  • How to Set a Fire and Why by Jesse Ball
  • Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver; probably anything by Kingsolver
  • This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein
  • Dirt by David R. Montgomery

And I always take recommendations 🙂


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