For the last five years I’ve polled the PAN staff, a group of voracious readers, about their summer reading plans (you can view our previous lists here: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016). As the weather starts to heat up, here’s what we’re excited to take to the beach or the pool this summer.
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A common theme throughout the recommendations was dystopian novels. For example, Omar El Akkad’s debut book, American War, creates a “haunting” post-apocalyptic universe. I’m fascinated by the impact emerging technology will have on our daily lives, and am currently reading Children of the New World by Alexander Weinstein, which explores via a series of short stories the unforeseen and often dark effect that technologies like artificial intelligence and virtual reality could have on society. The Circle by Dave Eggers also looks at the future of the technology industry and privacy, and was recently made into a movie. Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian classic The Handmaid’s Tale, which I can attest was a wonderful book, also made our lists just as it’s hitting the small screen.
Several PAN team members are also planning to read books before they dive into the film or television adaptations. Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies (currently a hit HBO mini-series) ranked high on the list, as did Stephen King’s self-described magnum opus, the Dark Tower series, which is being released as a movie this year.
Other titles that draw on the supernatural include The Rook, a supernatural thriller by Daniel O’Malley, and Smoke by Dan Vyleta, a mashup of historical fiction and fantasy that has earned comparisons to Harry Potter.
Other fiction recommendations include The One Man, a historical thriller by Andrew Gross, and A Gentleman in Moscow, the highly-anticipated new title from Rules of Civility author Amor Towles. A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman was recommended as a beautifully written, lyrical folk story about an 89-year-old woman living with hope and anticipation. And, New York Times bestseller A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman appeared on a few lists.
I have to second a recommendation for A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, a lengthy, emotional book with beautifully crafted characters that is bound to stick with you.
Rounding out the list are several non-fiction titles, including: the social commentary Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance; another New York Times bestseller, How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Dr. Michael Greger; and The Hidden Lives of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, in which a forest ranger examines trees’ social networks.
Our picks this year run the gamut from thrillers to historical fiction to non-fiction. What are you looking forward to reading this summer? Let us know via Twitter @PANcomm!