Every year I like to provide a summer reading list for you, my loyal reader. I thought I would mix it up this year and ask the women who form the Spring Insight marketing team to share with me a notable read – either that they’ve read or that they plan to – and now I want to share those suggestions for you! These books are great reads if you ever do get to the beach, or into a particularly humid waiting room somewhere.
The Handmaid’s Tale By: Margaret Atwood
Let’s start with the most zeitgeist-y. This one is as au courant as they come, but hey – our marketing team is in the know, y’all. If you’ve never read the classic Margaret Atwood novel, now’s the time, thanks to a new Hulu original series based on the book, and some certain unsettling parallels with our current political trajectory. But even if you have read it, now’s the time to pick it back up. Two of our team members, Kate and Sam, reread the book in anticipation of the television series, and both report that its story is as compelling as ever. The political tragedy, of a society in which women wake up to find their rights have been stripped away, is scarier now– less alternate-reality than it once seemed. But also, both of these mothers report, the human tragedy is achingly haunting. No one is going to call The Handmaid’s Tale the feel-good read of the summer, but we can’t recommend it strongly enough. (Also, it’s free on the Kindle for Prime members right now!!)
The Trouble with Reality: A Rumination on Moral Panic in Our Time By: Brooke Gladstone
The Trouble with Reality: A Rumination on Moral Panic in Our Time, by On the Media’s Brooke Gladstone, attempts to answer the million dollar question: How the heck did we end up here? Like The Handmaid’s Tale, this is not one we’d call uplifting. But it should be required reading (and it is, in a way, for team member Sam’s book club). It used to be that we talked about viewing things from different perspectives. We could disagree, but we could attempt to see things from “where the other person came from,” and that learning about that viewpoint could prove productive and useful. Now, it often seems as if those on either end of the political spectrum aren’t even looking at the same landscape. If that’s the case, how do we ever find common ground? Gladstone delves into the forces that brought us “fake news,” “alternative facts,” and lies disguised as truths. With excerpts from Brave New World and 1984, and a discussion on which one our current reality mirrors more (really!), Sam is finding it to be a fascinating but accessible look into the state of our political discourse.
And speaking of the trouble with reality: Your growing pile of unpaired socks (Where do they all come from?!? Where do the other ones go?!?). If The Handmaid’s Tale evokes the terror of having your life taken out of your control, and The Trouble with Reality drives home that feeling of helplessness, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up is the antidote. The author, Marie Kondo, is a Japanese wiz-kid in the world of organizational self-help, and her slim book, aimed at helping you take the reins over all the stuff in your life, has taken the frazzled set by storm. If you’ve seen Rachael Ray gushing about her new method of folding clothes, or overheard people thanking their belongings for their service before relegating them to the donation bin, you’ve seen Kondo’s influence. This summer, our own Brittany plans to read the book and give her home a little makeover. Brittany’s expecting her third child, and though she’s pretty disciplined about ditching the clutter, she’s heard the siren call of “magic,” and she’s game for some life-changing doses of it. Or at least, her nesting hormones have heard that call, and they’re in charge these days. Brittany’s got another nursery to get ready, but even if you’re in a more stable time in your life, we whole-heartedly recommend this book. It’s a short read, and it’s empowering. Kondo writes with a soothing cadence and makes you think that this time, really, you cantake control.
Half of a Yellow Sun By: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
And finally, my own recommendation. This too is an aspirational read – I plan to read it this summer. I was very moved by the TED Talk “The Danger of a Single Story.” In the talk, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian writer, warns against extrapolating from a single person’s story onto an entire culture or experience. I won’t encapsulate the talk here because I would rather you listen to the full story in her words. The talk convinced me that I should read more books about people in different places — by people in those places. I have not read much by African authors and so am planning to read her book, Half of a Yellow Sun. And bonus points, if you want to take Adichie’s advice and read more about lived experiences: Her more recent novel, Americanah, is a stunning, moving and fascinating read, about a Nigerian immigrant in America, and recently was chosen by NYC readers as the first city-wide book club selection. Do like the cool kids in New York do and read Adichie’s work!
So, with little rhyme or reason, we present to you Spring Insight’s summer reading suggestions. If you’ve read these, have thoughts, or think we missed some big ones, let us know in the comments!