Volunteers serving on the Association Media & Publishing Content Creation Committee and Chicago Programs Committee share their list of favorite summer books -- and the list is as diverse as the organizations they work for.
By Hannah Andrews
I must preface this article with the following statement: I love to read. I bought a Kindle several years ago, started a book club at work, I'm very active on Goodreads, and taste in books is the first thing I inquire about when I meet someone new (besides their name, well, sometimes).
Is this where I profess my love for all things Harry Potter and children's fantasy fiction or the guilty pleasures of good old-fashioned chick-lit? Alas, for another time.
As an avid reader, I am always fascinated to hear what others around me are indulging in, and what better audience to ask than Association Media & Publishing members? Here is what some of our volunteers are currently reading; not surprisingly, our members' book list is as diverse as the organizations they work for.
Zombies, Dystopia, and Abraham Lincoln?!
This year seems to be all things Great Britain: the Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics opening ceremony, and I think we are still reveling in Philip Treacy's hats from last April's Royal Wedding. But on the other side of the spectrum, what stood out in the book world of our committee members? Apocalyptic tales.
Whether it is preparing for an inevitable zombie apocalypse or recovering from a civilization's demise by entertaining their government with killing games, our volunteers' books of choice were those on the more grim side of fiction. The big hit with the Association Media & Publishing crowd was the best-selling, post-apocalyptic trilogy, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, but the zombie theme was certainly a close second, at least with one volunteer, who had four books to share. Looks like I need to catch up on "The Walking Dead" and join the zombie bandwagon.
Fantasy Fiction Selections (ratings found on Goodreads or Amazon)
- Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (4.50)
- Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith (3.77)
- Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz (3.44)
- Valley of Death by William Bebb (4.00)
- Zombie Tales: Primrose Court Apt. 502 by Robert DeCoteau (3.52)
- LZR-1143: Perspectives by Bryan James (4.00)
- Deadlocked by A.R. Wise (3.77)
The Beach Read: It's Delightful, It's Delicious, It's De-Lovely
With summer in full swing, my first thought is that of the "beach read." The great thing about beach books is that they can be about anything. Are you in the mood for a feel-good romance, a mystery thriller, or a guilty pleasure? Having just returned from the beach three books lighter (well at least my Goodreads "to-reads-list" is), I spent my time on the shore surrounded by witches, young women reminded of their pasts, and Inigo Montoya avenging the death of his father to the hand of the six-fingered man. My housemates, on the other hand, indulged in coming of age tales and let's be honest-risqué literature.
Clearly, this wouldn't be a proper piece on summer reading if there wasn't at least a mention of Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. A daring Chicago Programs Committee volunteer shared that she had read the series, and this admission gave the rest of us the courage to divulge about our reading rendezvous with Mr. Christian Grey. However, if the Grey phenomenon is not your cup of tea, perhaps one (or several) of the following reads will be a great addition to your summer vacation.
Miscellaneous Fiction Selections (ratings found on Goodreads or Amazon)
- The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides (3.77)
- A Wonderful Use for Fire by Hayden Gabriel
- U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton (3.81)
- Sacré Bleu by Christopher Moore (3.76)
- Life of Pi by Yann Martel (3.80)
- Mrs. Mattingly's Miracle by Nancy Schultz (3.00)
- Pilate's Wife by Antoinette May (3.59)
True Life: I Read Nonfiction
From breakout biographies like Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and Lauren Hillenbrand's Unbroken to Malcolm Gladwell classics, nonfiction is a diverse genre that was also a popular choice among our committee members. Although a fan of fantasy fiction and all things mythical, I just read my first nonfiction book, Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and I have a new appreciation for this genre. There is a true story for every type of person: a fan of the game, a history nut, or someone looking to advance skills for their career.
Nonfiction Picks (ratings found on Goodreads or Amazon)
- Lost Empire of Atlantis by Gavin Menzies (3.45)
Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell (4.30)
- In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family is Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson (3.73)
- The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (4.01)
- One on One by John Feinstein (3.72)
- Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salsbury & Aly Sujo (3.93)
- Haiti: A Shattered Nation by Elizabeth Abbott
Business/Trade Books (ratings found on Goodreads or Amazon)
- Writing for Success by Scott McLean
- Race for Relevance by Harrison Coerver & Mary Byers (3.86)
- Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher, William Ury, Bruce Patton (3.73)
So whether you prefer the Underlands and mythical worlds or a hearty WWII drama, there is something for everyone in this current reading list from our band of volunteers. This summer, you might choose to stay in your comfort zone or venture out into the great beyond of another genre. Either way, enjoy a story that isn't your own, and there's a good chance that you will find a new perspective, or at least a new book to pass on.
Hannah Andrews is coordinator, marketing and communications, for Association Media & Publishing and a member of the Content Creation Committee. Follow her on Twitter @H2SMSSEUA.