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21 Books For Summer

My last blog Learning From Literature seems to have tapped a nerve about the power of the written word. I decided to ask those who commented to share their recommendations for summer reading. What follows is our first annual 21 Books for Summer from 21 Weeks. Thank you contributors. Enjoy.
From Ed, a writer: “OK, I’m going late 20th-early 21st century.”
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon.  
It’s about early American comic book creators.  It describes the creative process and quite a lot about American society as well.
An American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld.
It’s a pretty accurate fictionalization of the life of Laura Bush. It’s a complex interaction of truth, honesty and self-preservation.
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.
It’s about a young hermaphrodite. It helps us understand identity and love.
Charlotte’s Web by EB White.  
This is easily the finest children’s book ever written, and one of the very best American novels. It’s also a heartbreaking yet redemptive depiction of the wonder and fragility of life.  It was written while White himself was dying, and knew it.
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.  
It’s about a physically challenged but gifted young man. It tells us about wisdom, perseverance and inner strength.
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishigura.  
It’s about a butler and the man he serves.  The unreliable narrator teaches us to observe carefully for ourselves and to judge actions before words.
Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson.
This is an outrageously entertaining book that doesn’t teach us much other than the simple pleasure of a terrific read.
From Eyal, a product marketer: “Two books that are my absolute favorites.”
Nausea by Jean Paul Sartre.
Inspiring thoughts about human existence. This is my most admired book – a tough read (requires some philosophy background).
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.
It is the story of a man who said that he would stop the motor of the world and did. Larger-than-life heroes and villains, charged with towering questions of good and evil.
From Michael, an entrepreneur, blogger: “My must-read books for the summer.”
Havana Nocturne by T.J. English.
It’s about how the mob owned Cuba and then lost it to the revolution.
Fascinate by Sally Hogshead.
7 Triggers to persuasion and captivation.
Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.
Using the web to build influence, improve reputation, and earn trust.
It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For by Roy M. Spence.
Why every extraordinary business is driven by purpose.
From Dennis, a writer: “Excellent assignment Tom! Here are my five.”
American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld.
A novel that makes one rethink assumptions about what’s going on in others’ lives; opens up perspectives on others (I really can’t recommend this book strongly enough).
Macbeth by William Shakespeare.
I’ve always thought of this one as a lesson on making sure you really know what you want (as opposed to wanting what others want you to want).
Just about anything by Bernard Malamud.
He teaches the power of perseverance and of truly caring about something (at least I think so).
All of Us, The Collected Poems of Raymond Carver.
As the title implies, we’re all in this world together trying to make things work out; the simple, direct language of his poems leave one with simple, direct lessons that feel like personal self-discovery.
From Frances, an executive coach, writer: “Excellent follow-up post.”
Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger.
A modern-day look at a seminal idea in the Bhagavad Gita. It’s about doing work for the work’s sake only – not with an eye toward potential gains
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott.
The best book on writing I know; also side-splittingly funny.
Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion.
Her essay “On Self-Respect” are 5 pages that changed my life.
The Gift: Poems by Hafiz. Translations by Daniel Ladinsky.
Here’s one:
We speak
Becomes the house we live in
Who will want to sleep in your bed
If the roof leaks
Right above
Look what happens when the tongue
Cannot say to kindness
“I will be your slave”
The moon 
Covers her face with both hands
And can’t bear
To look
What books do you suggest?

One Comment

  1. Tom Butta says:

    Thanks to all of you who took the time to contribute. It's quite a list. I'm anxious to get started!

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