Summer is the perfect time for relaxing on the beach or by the pool with a good book. Rather than reaching for a trashy romance novel or a schlocky thriller, why not select something that will broaden your mind and expand your perspective all while being enjoyable? These quality reads will keep your brain working during summer break.
The Women’s Room by Marilyn French: Feminist Tome Still Resonates
The Women’s Room by Marilyn French was penned in the 1970s and is set in the 1950s, but its themes still resonate today. Like French herself, the main character, Mira, is a suburban housewife who decides to expand her horizons and become a mature student at Harvard. As Mira discovers her identity and her place in the world, modern readers will marvel at the way its themes of slut shaming and societal expectations still resonate. The Women’s Room is bound to get you thinking about how far women have come and how they still fight for equality in the workplace and social sphere. Female students are likely to empathize with Mira’s struggles, but if you’re a man, you shouldn’t let the title put you off. There’s plenty here for you to enjoy, too.
Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace: Think Critically About Everything
Critical thinking is a key skill for college students of all disciplines. Few people were more adept at it than the late David Foster Wallace, who dissects everything from the literature of Dostoyevsky to the O.J. Simpson trial and even lobsters in this fascinating read. The varied subject matter he tackles here makes Consider the Lobster bags of fun. Hopefully by the end, David Foster Wallace’s critical-thinking talents will also rub off on you.
The Good Terrorist by Doris Lessing: Political Activism Satire
Some say you haven’t really lived the life of a college student unless you’ve picketed or protested about a cause close to your heart. Alice, the main character in Doris Lessing’s novel, is an unemployed and naïve political-science and economics graduate from a middle-class family. She takes up residence with a group of like-minded revolutionaries determined to change the world, with devastating results. As funny as it is disturbing, The Good Terrorist will get you thinking about how personal causes can so easily become political and the way terrorism evolves. Reading it now in the wake of recent terror attacks on Paris and Brussels gives this 1985 novel extra weight.
The Turquoise Ledge by Leslie Marmon Silko: Powerful Memoir About Environment
Debates about climate change and planetary destruction often focus on science so it’s refreshing to read a more spiritual perspective about these issues in Leslie Marmon Silko’s The Turquoise Ledge. The author draws on her Cherokee, Laguna Pueblo, Mexican, and European ancestry in this memoir about life in the desert, her bonds with local animals, and the environmental decay she’s seen. This intimate novel reads like a diary, encouraging readers to think about their place in the world and what they want that world to be.
For some engrossing reads that will expand your perspective this summer, look no further than these quality books.