Booklists | July 28, 2021

Six Wonderful Reads to Enjoy This Summer


One of my favorite parts of reading is the chance to peek behind the curtain into people’s vastly different experiences. It’s a way to experience historical moments, places – both real and imagined – and cultures through an intimate conversation with the author. 

Maybe it’s COVID, but lately, I’ve been drawn to stories that invite me into new worlds. The books on this list transported me to the White House; to Amazon’s boardroom; to the poorest region of Nigeria; and to the future, where robots fall in love with humans. 

Sometimes I chose to dive into a difficult topic (you’ll notice that the theme of child brides comes up in two of the books). Other times, I reached for something lighter. (If that’s what you’re going for, I’d recommend Elevator Pitch or Klara and the Sun.)

This list is eclectic. I hope at least one of these books teaches you something new, sparks your thoughts, or helps you escape for a little while this summer.

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

Like any great memoir, this one gives you a front row seat to a person’s life. The book provides a close-up of Barack Obama’s extraordinary journey and some of the biggest decisions he made in the first half of his presidency. It also offers a glimpse into his intimate and sometimes taut relationships with other politicians and his family. 

What I really like about it is that you get a sense of not just what he’s thinking, but also how he’s feeling: how frustrated he is with the lack of movement in Washington D.C. and how much he loves his family. Most of us only know Obama from what we’ve seen on the big stage. Now, we get to see a whole new, more personal, side of him. 

► Get the book here.

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

This is a brilliant love story. Many books and movies have been written about humans falling in love with robots. But not so many have been written about robots falling for humans. That’s what makes this story so unique: you see the world through the eyes of an innocent and optimistic AI who develops feelings for her human owner. It raises all sorts of questions about what it really means to be human – and to love. 

Reading science fiction is a way to see into the future. But because it’s a love story, there’s a wonderful timelessness to it, making it feel very much relatable today.

► Get the book here.

Working Backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon by Bill Carr and Colin Bryar

This book is written by two longtime Amazon executives that I used to work with way back when. Colin and Bill do an excellent job of shining a light on the culture and practices that led to Amazon becoming faster, stronger, and bigger over the years – and provide practical steps on how to apply what Amazon is doing to your own company. I think it’s a must-read for anyone who’s building a business that intends to scale up. (Pay particular attention to the chapter on hiring practices – there’s nothing more important than getting the right people on the bus.)

If you’re interested in learning more about Amazon, I’d also highly recommend Amazon Unbound by Brad Stone, which gives a history of Amazon in the last 10 years and really tries to get inside Jeff Bezos’ head. 

► Get the book here.

Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay

This book is a thrilling page turner. The story opens with four people getting into an elevator in a Manhattan office tower. The elevator proceeds to the top of the building before pausing and then plummeting to the bottom. What a hook, right? The rest of the book follows two detectives and a journalist as they try to uncover who’s behind it before the city completely falls apart. 

If you’re already a little worried about elevators because of COVID, I’d probably stay away. But if you’re looking for a well-written, kind-of-spooky thriller, then I think you’ll love Elevator Pitch.

► Get the book here.

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

I often say that reading is a low-cost ticket to see the world. This story captures the heartbreaking experience of a teenage girl who is married off as a child bride in Nigeria, and the series of misfortunes – and triumphs – that follow. It’s a book about perseverance, making the best of awful situations, and ultimately this girl’s journey to get an education. It’s an entertaining story with great characters and beautiful writing.  

► Get the book here.

Talata: The Child Bride by Naomi Adjei, Matilda Agyapong and Eugenia Agyapong

If you like The Girl with the Louding Voice, this powerful young adult book from our Worldreader library covers many of the same topics. Set in Ghana, the story chronicles a young girl’s escape from her marriage after she is sold off as a child bride. Her dreams of becoming a doctor quickly fall apart, even as she’s inspired by a woman doctor that plays a key role in the story.

This book will open your eyes to the appalling way millions of teen girls are treated. But it can also empower readers, particularly those living in areas where child marriage is still prevalent. Try to read it from the point of view of a young girl living in West Africa, and imagine how validating it is to read about someone who’s going through your own, difficult experience.  

Stories like this one can inspire change. That’s emblematic of many books in our library: they enable our readers to lead healthier, more hopeful lives.

Start reading this book from the digital Worldreader library.

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