10 Books to Read This Summer

We scoured local and national sources to assemble the reading list below.

Whether you’re heading to the beach or your living room, there’s something for everyone.

“Afterlife” by Julia Alvarez

Recommended by: The Charlotte Observer
Genre: Fiction
For more titles like this: https://www.charlotteobserver.com/article242543101.html

Antonia Vega, the immigrant writer at the center of “Afterlife,” has had the rug pulled out from under her. She just retired from the college where she taught English when her beloved husband, Sam, suddenly dies. And then more jolts: her bighearted but unstable sister disappears, and Antonia returns home one evening to find a pregnant, undocumented teenager on her doorstep. Antonia has always sought direction in the literature she loves—lines from her favorite authors play in her head like a soundtrack—but now she finds that the world demands more of her than words.

Afterlife is a compact, nimble and sharply droll novel. Set in this political moment of tribalism and distrust, it asks: What do we owe those in crisis in our families, including—maybe especially—members of our human family? How do we live in a broken world without losing faith in one another or ourselves? And how do we stay true to those glorious souls we have lost?

“A Long Walk to Water”

Recommended by: The ELA teachers at Community House Middle School, for rising 7th-grade students
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
For more titles like this: 

“A Long Walk to Water” begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two 11-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. 

Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor. His story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.

“Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng 

Recommended by: Ballantyne Book Club
Genre: Fiction
For more titles like this: https://www.facebook.com/notes/ballantyne-book-club/2020-reading-list/1288684824653704/

Fans of “Little Fires Everywhere” will enjoy reading Celeste Ng’s debut novel from 2015. It’s the Ballantyne Book Club’s November 2020 selection (so there’s plenty of time to read it). It tells the story of a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. 

Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. 

A profoundly moving story of family, secrets and longing, “Everything I Never Told You” is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait. It uncovers the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another. 

“Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson

Recommended by: The New York Times Best Sellers list
Genre: Memoir
For more titles like this: https://www.nytimes.com/books/best-sellers/

At press time, “Just Mercy” had been on the New York Times Best Sellers list for 209 weeks. Bryan Stevenson’s memoir chronicles his decades of work as a civil rights lawyer and MacArthur grant recipient to free innocent people condemned to death.

Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

“Just Mercy” is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice. It was turned into a major motion picture starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx.

“Rules for Visiting” by Jessica Francis Kane

Recommended by: Kristen Whitaker Knox, President, Charlotte Chapter, Women’s National Book Association
Genre: Fiction
For more titles like this: http://wnba-charlotte.org

Dry, witty and unapologetic, May Attaway loves literature and her work as a botanist for the university in her hometown. More at home with plants than people, May begins to suspect she isn’t very good at friendship and wonders if it’s possible to improve with practice. Granted some leave from her job, she sets out on a journey to spend time with four long-neglected friends.

 Smart, funny and full of compassion, “Rules for Visiting” is the story of a search for friendship in the digital age, a singular look at the way we stay in touch. While May travels, she studies her friends’ lives and begins to confront the pain of her own.

“We shouldn’t be visiting people right now, but it’s a joy going along with May as she tries to understand and nurture friendship on her visits,” says Knox. 

“Summer of the Mariposas” by Guadalupe Garcia

Recommended by: The ELA teachers at Community House Middle School, for rising 8th graders
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
For more titles like this:

When Odilia and her four sisters find a dead body in the swimming hole, they embark on a hero’s journey to return the dead man to his family in Mexico. But returning home to Texas turns into an odyssey that would rival Homer’s original tale. With the supernatural aid of ghostly La Llorona via a magical earring, Odilia and her little sisters travel a road of tribulation to their long-lost grandmother’s house. Along the way, they must outsmart a witch and her Evil Trinity: a wily warlock, a coven of vicious half-human barn owls, and a bloodthirsty livestock-hunting chupacabras. 

Can these fantastic trials prepare Odilia and her sisters for what happens when they face their final test, returning home to the real world, where goddesses and ghosts can no longer help them? “Summer of the Mariposas” is not just a magical Mexican American retelling of The Odyssey. It is a celebration of sisterhood and maternal love. 

“The Silent Wife” by Karin Slaughter

Recommended by: The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
Genre: Mystery Thriller
For more titles like this: https://cmlibrary.bibliocommons.com/list/share

Author Karin Slaughter was the special guest for a Final Draft event recently with Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s Foundation. Check out the recording of the event, see Slaughter’s books that are available online through the Library and find more suspenseful, psychological reads here. Charlotte’s public library is also hosting a summer break program. 

Investigating the killing of a prisoner during a riot inside a state penitentiary, GBI investigator Will Trent is confronted with disturbing information. One of the inmates claims that he is innocent of a brutal attack for which he has always been the prime suspect. The man insists that he was framed by a corrupt law enforcement team led by Jeffrey Tolliver and that the real culprit is still out there–a serial killer who has systematically been preying on women across the state for years. If Will reopens the investigation and implicates the dead police officer with a hero’s reputation for wrongdoing, the opportunistic convict is willing to provide the information GBI needs about the riot murder.

Only days ago, another young woman was viciously murdered in a state park in northern Georgia. Is it a fluke, or could there be a serial killer on the loose?

“The Surprising Science of Meetings” by Steven G. Rogelberg

Recommended by: Ballantyne Magazine
Genre: Business
For more about this title: https://www.ballantynemagazine.com/article/run-better-meetings

A south Charlotte resident and professor of organizational science, management and psychology at UNC Charlotte, Steven Rogelberg has written what “The Washington Post” called the “#1 leadership book to watch out for in 2019.” We wrote about this book in the summer 2019 issue of Ballantyne Magazine.

A recent estimate suggests that employees endure a staggering 55 million meetings a day in the United States. This tremendous time investment yields only modest returns. No organization made up of human beings is immune from the all-too-common meeting gripes: those that fail to engage, those that inadvertently encourage participants to tune out and those that blatantly disregard participants’ time. Most companies and leaders view poor meetings as an inevitable cost of doing business. But managers can take heart: researchers now have a clear understanding of the key drivers that make meetings successful. 

In “The Surprising Science of Meetings,” Rogelberg draws from extensive research, analytics, data mining and survey interviews with more than 5,000 employees across a range of industries. He shares the proven practices and techniques that help managers and employees enhance the quality of their meetings. For those who lead and participate in meetings, Rogelberg provides immediate direction, guidance and relief, offering a how-to guide to change your working life.

“The Unusual Quinns” 

Recommended by: Warren Publishing
Genre: Children’s 
For more titles like this: warrenpublishing.net

Anybody with young children knows how mealtime can become a battle. What your kids loved yesterday is now the most revolting food on the planet. Author and mom, Dahye Raine, has a solution in her newly-released children’s book, “The Unusual Quinns,” published by Charlotte-based Warren PublishingWith whimsical illustrations by Robert Dunn, this fun and silly book helps make mealtime more fun. 

Raine’s book introduces young children and their parents to the Quinns: cute and tiny creatures who eat human food––through their skin! From the back cover: “So tiny are Quinn mouths, they must eat with their skin as they taste all your food and––really!––dive in. Whether trekking across a burger or a big pizza pie, their adventures are too minuscule for anyone to spy.” Readers need not worry. The story goes on to explain: Quinns have very good ears and will scurry away the moment people are near.

“I wrote this book just after I found out I was pregnant,” says Raine when asked about the inspiration for her book. “I felt so sick at the time; I could barely look at food. Then I had a dream one night that I was very small and swimming around in a bowl of soup! I thought, ‘What a fun way to capture the memory of carrying my son, and to be able to share it with him––and others––in a way that will bring joy.'”

“Type R: Transformative Resilience for Thriving in a Turbulent World”

Recommended by: Novant Health’s Shared Reading Program
Genre: Self-Help, Management and Leadership

In “Type R,” Ama Marston and Stephanie Marston explore Transformative Resilience and the strategies of those who use difficult circumstances as catalysts for growth–springing forward rather than bouncing back during turbulent times.

Here, the authors share inspiring stories of Type Rs thriving during unprecedented world events and increasing global pressures–from climate change to financial crises. They share the individual and collective triumphs of people coping with the stress of daily life and the challenges and disruptions that rattle all our lives at some point. And they draw upon research that spans the personal and the professional, the local and the global. Reaching across psychology, neuroscience, business and politics, “Type R” demonstrates how we can use challenges to innovate, create new strengths and grow.

From an article on hfma.org: 

Novant Health uses a shared reading program to engage team members in change initiatives. Called Novant Health Reads, the voluntary, system-wide free-book program encourages team members at all levels and in every role to read the same book and participate in discussions to explore themes.