Summer has arrived and without the stress of homework or exams to worry about, now is the perfect time to crack open a good book. So pack up your piles of textbooks and dust off the covers of that murder mystery you’ve been dying to read all year long. Whether you’re lounging on the beach, taking a road trip, or planning a staycation, bring along a good read so you can relax, have fun and start a new literary adventure.
We chatted with five professors from Southern Utah University who are published authors and asked them what books they recommend. These 11 titles offer thrill, fantasy and thought-provoking subject matter to enrich your mind and summer experience.
Helen Boswell, associate professor of Biology at SUU, is a published author who enjoys writing urban fantasies and contemporary romance. Her trilogy, Mythology, is about a young girl who desperately wants to be a normal teenager but carries a secret: she can see the dark memories of those around her.
As an author, here are three books Boswell recommends for your summer reading list:
- Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves, fantasy
SUU English Professor Rosalyn Eves transports her readers to the Victorian Era where Anna, born without magic, struggles to find her identity and place in a world ruled by a magical society.
“This is a wonderful historical fantasy with rich characters and a strong female protagonist,” Boswell said. “The author compellingly weaves together a story that comes complete with power struggle, political unrest, competing love interests, and magical creatures.”
- The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King, fantasy
This story offers plenty of action, romance and thought-provoking questions that linger long after you finish reading.
“King's description of this fantasy world is so vivid that you'll feel like you're walking alongside the characters and sharing in their experiences,” Boswell said. “The story is imaginative with twists to keep you guessing.”
- The Martian by Andy Weir, science fiction
Survival and humor join together in the story about Mark Watney, a survivor abandoned on Mars. It’s written in journal-style, allowing the reader to see inside Mark’s mind as he troubleshoots his way through one sticky situation after another. He uses logic, science and his knowledge of botany to figure out a way back home.
“I love the geeky scientific thoughts and logic combined with Mark's quirky personality and seemingly random musings,” said Boswell. “Scientific research has shown that humor helps us cope when we are faced with dire circumstances, and Mark copes splendidly with his.”
David Admire, department chair for Political Science and Criminal Justice, published his first book, Terror in Paris, this year. The novel is a high-level thriller about a group of students and their professors on a study abroad experience in Paris. The group is caught up in a massive terrorist attack and tensions rise as the Americans attempt to escape their unknown attackers.
Here are three books Admire recommends:
- The Dark Side by Jane Mayer, historical non-fiction
This book examines decisions made by U.S. officials to use torture to obtain information on Al Qaeda and how those actions have affected the United States today.
“I found it fascinating to discover the secret deliberations that led to the legal justification for the use of torture,” explained Admire. “This book provides an example of how the United States, at times, takes action contrary to its deeply held beliefs because its leaders or its people are frightened.”
- All the President’s Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, historical non-fiction
This book follows the two authors, Bernstein and Woodward, as they investigate Watergate. They follow clues to determine what actually happened during and after the break-in. Their work resulted in Richard Nixon resigning the office of president of the United States.
“This book is a fascinating history of the Watergate scandal and how President Nixon abused the power of his office,” said Admire. “It shows how important the press is in keeping government honest and how members of Congress can rise to the occasion as statesmen.”
- Nighthawk by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown, science fiction
Containing a dangerous payload of destructive matter, the most advanced aircraft ever designed suddenly vanishes. What follows is a race between the United States, Russia and China to recover the missing space vehicle.
“All of Cussler’s books have characters that are fun to follow as they face a variety of challenges,” said Admire. “This is a good book to curl up with and relax.”
Jim Aton, professor of English, is an author of several novels including The River Knows Everything, Powell: His Life and Legacy and The Art and Life of Jimmie Jones: Landscape Artists of the Canyon Country. His books have won several awards and he enjoys mentoring students in their journey to become accomplished authors and writers.
He recommends adding historical fiction to your summer reading list.
- The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante, historical fiction
This series includes My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child. These four novels follow the friendship between two girls growing up in the post-World-War II era in Naples, Italy. The novels reveal much about the history of Europe while telling a captivating, entangled story.
“These stories have been bestsellers in the United States for some time and are absolutely riveting,” said Aton. “They are not for the faint-of-heart reader, they are real.”
Director of the Master of Public Administration Program, Angela Pool-Funai is working on her first book, Ethics in Fiscal Administration: An Introduction, which will be published next year.
She recommends to add this motivational book to your list:
- Start With Why by Simon Sinek, self-help
Sinek, the man who gave the third most popular TED Talk of all time, started a movement to help people become more inspired at work. This book discusses how and why the most influential leaders all think, act and communicate the same.
“This book reaffirmed my career goals and encouraged me to think about what really fuels me to be a servant-leader,” said Pool-Funai. “Summer is a great time to reflect on the previous academic year and think ahead to next year's goals. Start With Why provides a realistic, how-to pathway to become a more effective leader.”
Joshua Price, assistant professor of Economics, has been published in the Journal of Sports Economics, Journal of Health Economics and the Economics of Education Review for his research and writing on athletics, race and gender.
He recommends the following books:
- Summerlost by Ally Condie, mystery
This story follows the life of a teenage girl named Cedar, who works at the Summerlost theater festival. Cedar joins a friend in leading illegal tours of the festival as they pursue solving a mystery of a famous Hollywood actress that once appeared in the small town festival.
“The book is loosely based on the Shakespeare Festival held on SUU campus in Cedar City,” explained Price. “It is a quick read that keeps you engaged and anxious to solve the mystery.”
- Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, historical non-fiction
Goodwin analyzes Abraham Lincoln’s campaign and presidency in her book. When he was elected president, he nominated his chief rivals to his cabinet. The book details why he did this and how it allowed him to be successful in office.
“I loved seeing the confidence of a rural Illinois farmer to build a cabinet of individuals with strongly different views from his own,” explained Price. “This book taught me a lot about what a true leader is and how to run any organization.”
- Naked Economics by Charles Wheelan, non-fiction
This book takes difficult topics covered in principles of economics and makes them exciting and interesting. It covers topics in macroeconomics (how choices are made by governments) and microeconomics (how choices are made by individuals).
“Once you realize economics is the study of how people make choices you realize how much economic thinking plays a role in your life,” said Price. “This book provides insight into what is happening with politics, the economy, and the community in which you live. It will give you another way to impress your friends.”
No matter how busy you are, there's always time for a good book that can open your mind to new ideas, fantastical worlds or historical moments. Set up a hammock, curl up under a blanket or bask in the sun as your literary adventure awaits. Happy reading.