Top Reads for June
Summer’s just around the corner, which means traditional TV will go on a vacation and you’ll definitely be in need of some books to take on your road or beach trips. No matter where you’re going, be sure to take along Sheryl Sandberg’s latest advice, two mysteries for the price of one, the first in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, and the book that has most inspired Bill Gates.
Alex K.: In 2015, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg experienced the unthinkable: Her husband died suddenly while the two were on vacation. Option A was raising her two young kids with her husband by her side. Her tremendously powerful book, Option B, explores how to move forward in the face of enormous adversity when Option A no longer exists. It’s heart-wrenchingly pragmatic — grounded in Sheryl’s own story as well as insights from bestselling psychologist Adam Grant. Ultimately, the book shows how to build resilience and find joy in the face of immense setback and tragedy. It’s the book I never want to live and yet am so glad I read.
Alex P.: What’s better than a good, classic whodunit? A whodunit within a whodunit, that’s what.
Anthony Horowitz’s latest book manages to be two mysteries in one: a classic midcentury tale of murder, money, and manners in the English countryside a la Agatha Christie, and a modern-day story of the search for that novel’s missing chapter, and the discovery of a murder in the process. Horowitz’s ability to jump back and forth between mystery styles so effortlessly might feel like showboating, if it weren’t so enjoyable. With fine literary writing and a twisty, engrossing tale, Magpie Murders is a cut above the competition — and a perfect choice to keep you distracted throughout your next long flight.
Tifa: I’ve been meaning to read The Gunslinger for ages, and now that the film is coming out, I had to dive in. This first book in Stephen King’s magnum opus, The Dark Tower series has so much going on. Some fantasy, a little sci-fi, and a lot of Western. It’s a captivating read that definitely sets up some massive world-building for the subsequent books. Roland (the titular gunslinger) is chasing the Man in Black (though I’m still not sure why). He makes some friends. He travels to some odd places. Weirdness ensues. It can get a little confusing at times, but it was overall a fun read and totally enough to pique my interest in the rest of the books ahead of the forthcoming movies and TV series.
The Better Angels of Our Nature
Ashley: In a tweet addressing the graduating class of 2017, Bill Gates wrote, “If I could give each of you a graduation present, it would be this — the most inspiring book I’ve ever read,” with a screenshot of Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature. Pinker has always been on my radar, and I’ve read some of his brilliant essays on language, but I wasn’t prepared for how much I’d enjoy — or, indeed, be inspired by — this book.
Pinker will throw all your presumptions about the prevalence of violence today, about the seeming decay of culture in this day and age, those “facts” you learned from Freakonomics about the legalization of abortion and rates of violent crime, and much more out the window. This is one of the most illuminating walks through human history I’ve ever taken (history and sociology classes would have been a lot more interesting if this had been assigned reading). The Better Angels of Our Nature will help you traverse today’s media and political climates and will compel you to tear down the partisan barriers we’ve built through kind means.
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