Every man who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the way in which he exists, to make his life full, significant, and interesting.
-- Aldous Huxley
Several U.S. colleges and universities assign summer reading lists books that incoming freshman and existing students are either encouraged or required to read to stimulate conversation and critical thinking on both timely, popular subjects and classic themes.
The Outsourced Self: What Happens When We Pay Others to Live Our Lives for Us by Arlie Russell Hochschild: path-breaking look at the transformation of private life in our for-profit world.
The Art of Fielding: A Novel by Chad Harbach:At Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended.
First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers by Loung Ung: One of seven children of a high-ranking government official, Loung Ung lived a privileged life in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh until the age of five. Then, in April 1975, Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge army stormed into the city, forcing Ung's family to flee and, eventually, to disperse.
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann: A dazzlingly rich vision of the pain, loveliness, mystery, and promise of New York City in the 1970s.
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett: Award-winning, bestselling author Ann Patchett returns with a provocative novel of morality and miracles, science and sacrifice set in the Amazon rainforest--a gripping adventure story and a profound look at the difficult choices we make in the name of discovery and love.
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer: Eating Animals explores the many fictions we use to justify our eating habits-from folklore to pop culture to family traditions and national myth-and how such tales justify a brutal ignorance.
Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do by Claude M. Steele: Through dramatic personal stories, Claude Steele shares the experiments and studies that show, again and again, that exposing subjects to stereotypes impairs their performance in the area affected by the stereotype.
Don't Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood by Alexandra Fuller: Alexandra Fuller remembers her African childhood with candor and sensitivity. Though it is a diary of an unruly life in an often inhospitable place, it is suffused with Fullers endearing ability to find laughter, even when there is little to celebrate.
Socrates: A Man for Our Times by Paul Johnson: Socrates was undeniably one of the greatest thinkers of all time, yet he wrote nothing. Throughout his life, and indeed until his very last moment alive, Socrates fully embodied his philosophy in thought and deed. It is through the story of his life that we can fully grasp his powerful actions and ideas.
Galileos Daughter by Dava Sobel: Inspired by long fascination with Galileo and the surviving letters of his daughter, a cloistered nun, Sobel has written a biography of the one Einstein called "the father of modern physics--indeed of modern science altogether."
Beautiful Souls by Eyal Pres:Through dramatic stories of unlikely resisters, _Beautiful Souls_shows that the boldest acts of dissent are often carried out not only by radicals seeking to overthrow the system but also by true believers who cling with unusual fierceness to their convictions.
The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time by Jonathan Weiner: On a desert island in the heart of the Galapagos archipelago, where Darwin received his first inklings of the theory of evolution, two scientists have spent twenty years proving that Darwin did not know the strength of his own theory.
Sons of Providence: The Brown Brothers, the Slave Trade, and the American Revolution by Charles Rappleye:_Sons of Providence_paints a vivid portrait of Colonial life as we follow these founding brothers in their rise to the heights of American commerce and power and from revolution to nationhood.
Iliad by Homer: The stirring story of the Trojan War and the rage of Achilles that has gripped readers for 2,700 years.
Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnso:** Where do groundbreaking ideas come from? How do we generate the breakthrough technologies that push forward our lives, our society, our culture? Steven Johnsons answers are revelatory as he identifies the seven key patterns behind genuine innovation, and traces them across time and disciplines.
The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail but Some Don't by Nate Silver: Nate Silver built an innovative system for predicting baseball performance, predicted the 2008 election within a hairs breadth, and became a national sensation as a blogger. Drawing on his own groundbreaking work, Silver examines the world of prediction, investigating how we can distinguish a true signal from a universe of noisy data.
Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb: From the bestselling author and one of the foremost philosophers of our time, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, explains how some systems actually benefit from disorder.
3.11: Disaster and Change in Japan by Richard J. Samuels: On March 11, 2011, Japan was struck by the most powerful earthquake and tsunami to hit Japan in recorded history. Richard Samuels offers the first broad scholarly assessment of the disaster's impact on Japan's government and society.
The River Why by David James Duncan: Protagonist Gus Orviston is an irreverent young fly fisherman, a vibrant character who makes us laugh easily and feel deeply, and who speaks with startling truth about the way we live.
The Last Hunger Season by Roger Thurow: The Last Hunger Season examines a year in an African farm community on the brink of change. It is as much a look at the distortions of agricultural development in Africa as it is a gritty underdog tale of hope and survival.
The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore: Two kids with the same name lived in the same decaying city. One went on to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader. The other is serving a life sentence in prison. Here is the story of two boys and the journey of a generation.
When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka: In this lean and devastatingly evocative novel, Julie Otsuka tells the story of the thousands of Japanese Americans who were reclassified as enemy aliens and sent to internment camps during World War II.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain: In_Quiet,_Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so.
Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert: In this brilliant, witty, and accessible book, renowned Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert describes the foibles of imagination and illusions of foresight that cause each of us to misconceive our tomorrows and misestimate our satisfactions.
Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv: Never before in history have children been so plugged in and so out of touch with the natural world. In this groundbreaking new work, child advocacy expert Richard Louv directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today's wired generation he calls it nature deficit to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as rises in obesity, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and depression.
The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson: _The Finkler Question_is a funny, furious,unflinching novel of friendship and loss, exclusion and belonging, and the wisdom and humanity of maturity. Winner of the 2010 Man Booker Prize.
Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President by Allen Guelzo: An enlightening "intellectual biography" of Lincoln, Allen Guelzo's peerless account of America's most celebrated president explores the role of ideas in Lincoln's life, treating him as a serious thinker deeply involved in the nineteenth-century debates over politics, religion, and culture.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Daz: Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd whofrom the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother and rebellious sister dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, finding love. _The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao opens our eyes to an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and explores the endless human capacity to persevere and risk it all in the name of love.
Wittgensteins Poker by David Edmonds: An engaging mix of philosophy, history, biography, and literary detection,_Wittgenstein's Poker_explores the history of philosophy in the twentieth century.