With the summer upon us, there is finally adequate time to read books not listed on a class syllabus. There are so many books to choose from, including countless hidden gems that do not find their way to the top of the bestseller lists. So if you are searching for great beach reads that may be lurking under the radar, look no further. From fiction to poetry to graphic novels, here are nine unexpected books to read this summer!
1. "I’ll Give You the Sun" — Jandy Nelson
With language that explodes off the page, Nelson crafts a compelling and heartfelt story about twins who drift apart and must find their way back to each other. The writing style is incredible, vividly capturing the characters’ emotions and plot-twisting tale.
2. "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" — Neil Gaiman
One of Neil Gaiman’s more recent works, this is a haunting and lyrical tale about the past unexpectedly flooding into the present.
3. "Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth" — Warsan Shire
A collection of poems by Kenyan-born Somali poet Warsan Shire, this book is honest, poignant and beautifully written. Shire discusses topics like trauma, displacement and culture in a compelling poetic voice.
4. "The Omnivore’s Dilemma" — Michael Pollan
The omnivore’s dilemma — what should we have for dinner? In this interesting book, Pollan investigates the changing relationship between food, society and technology. He visits large food-processing companies and local farms alike to find out where the food on our plates comes from, and what our best options are when choosing what to eat.
5. "Embroideries" — Marjane Satrapi
More often known for her best-selling "Persepolis" memoir, in this graphic novel Satrapi weaves a hilarious yet honest tale about the sex lives of Iranian women. Over afternoon tea, the various women in Satrapi's family share stories from sexual escapades to embarrassing moments, and the illustrations make the book both captivating and clear.
6. "Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe" — Benjamin Alire Saenz
When two Mexican-American teenagers named Aristotle and Dante first meet, it appears that they have nothing in common but their historic names. As they develop a friendship, Saenz’s beautiful language sweeps up the reader and demonstrates the power of love, whether between friends, family or romantic partners.
7. "The Art of Racing in the Rain" — Garth Stein
This novel is told from the perspective of Enzo, an old dog in his final days. He reminisces about his life with his owner, commenting on the nuances of life from the unique perspective of man’s best friend.
8. "The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop"
In the first poetry anthology inspired by the Hip-Hop generation, BreakBeat poets reimagine what poetry is and who can read it: It is "for people who love Hip-Hop, for fans of the culture, for people who've never read a poem, for people who thought poems were only something done by dead white dudes who got lost in a forest.” Whether you select a few poems or devour the entire volume, the BreakBeat Poets are definitely worth a read.
9. "Sherlock Holmes" — Arthur Conan Doyle
Perhaps you are hooked by BBC’s amazing Sherlock series, or just want a new mystery to delve into. The original Sherlock Holmes books are always worth returning to for classic mystery and unparalleled detective genius.