Top Reads for July

Find a secluded beach spot to curl up with these books: The sexiest read of the season on the ins-and-outs of female desire, a hidden history about one of the world’s fastest cyclists in honor of the Tour de France, and the perfect companion to HBO’s miniseries on Chernobyl.

Three Women

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Stephanie: Hot summer read alert: New York magazine contributor Lisa Taddeo spent eight years (!) reporting on the intimate lives of three American women. The result is a sultry, clear-eyed work of narrative journalism that is so propulsive it reads more like a great work of fiction meant to be devoured on the beach than a non-fiction exploration of sex and female desire — but that’s part of its brilliance. One of the buzziest books of the season, Three Women has been hailed by Dave Eggers as “one of the most riveting, assured, and scorchingly original debuts” he’s ever read. And Liz Gilbert calls it a “non-fiction literary masterpiece at the same level as In Cold Blood — and just as suspenseful, bone-chilling, and harrowing, in its own way.”

If you’re in the Bay Area, don’t miss our #ScribdChat with Three Women author Lisa Taddeo, who will be in conversation with Goodbye, Vitamin author Rachel Khong at The Assembly on July 16th. RSVP here.

The World’s Fastest Man

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Katie: You’ve heard of Jackie Robinson and Jesse Owens. But you might not have heard of another pioneering black sports superstar. This book rights that particular wrong, bringing back to life the thrilling (and tragic) story of one of the fastest cyclists ever. Major Taylor practically flew on a bicycle. He drew adoring crowds of all races. He set records for speed. He won a world championship. And he did it all during the Jim Crow era. Brutal racism, violent attacks, and hateful injustice followed Taylor on and off the race track. Kranish recounts countless races where Taylor had to rely on the trick riding skills he learned as a boy in order to stay on his bike while white riders tried to knock him down.

The World's Fastest Man paints a vivid portrait of both Major Taylor and his moment in time, 50 years before Jackie Robinson integrated baseball, just before automobiles took over the roads, when bicycles dominated and the fastest bicyclist in the world was barred from sitting at the same table as his competitors.

Midnight in Chernobyl

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Ashley: HBO’s miniseries on Chernobyl has blown up since its release in May, and it’s led more people to pick up Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham, a nonfiction account of the worst nuclear disaster in history. I haven’t watched the miniseries despite its immense praise, because I don’t want to go down a rabbit hole of having to decipher fact from fiction when I could just read this riveting retelling of the events instead. Higginbotham’s account is an intoxicating mix of personal stories of those who worked at the plant, hidden histories of the Soviet nuclear program (and its many flaws), and an hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute walkthrough of what happened when Reactor Number Four exploded at Chernobyl. It also provides an overview of how radiation works, both as a giver and a cataclysmic destroyer of life. The chain of human errors and the systemic secrecy that led to this meltdown are the heart of the book, and much more frightening than the radioactivity itself. Anyone who enjoyed the HBO series needs to read this, and if you’re still morbidly curious about nuclear disasters, here’s a list of other books you should check out, as well.

Also available as an audiobook.

Camp Echo

PSA: We’ve released our latest Scribd Original just in time for summer camp! It’s our first piece of fiction, and it’s written by the legendary travel writer Paul Theroux. For three weeks, Andy Parent attends Camp Echo with other Boy Scouts, where they teach each other difficult lessons about masculinity, social class, and race that will last a lifetime.

Also available as an audiobook.

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