01 Jul 2022

📚 Summer Reading List

There’s something special about summer reading. It feels different than the reading I do throughout the rest of the year because of habits I formed growing up. When school let out for summer, I’d have three glorious months of being left mostly to myself. For me, that meant visiting the library, checking out the biggest stack of books they’d let me walk away with, and then reading them all week before returning to do it all over again. The good life!

Even though summer doesn’t really bring a sudden abundance of free time like it used to, I still like to let it bring a sudden abundance of reading. I love immersing myself in a period of intense reading, knowing I’ll come out different on the other end.

Here’s what I’m hoping to read this summer and why.

The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien

This feels like the perfect way to kick things off. Rereading this will be full of nostalgia and a great way to limber up my imagination. I last read this in middle school up in a walnut tree that grew in our backyard. I’m hoping to once again read this out in nature and without a care in the world, but this time with much better reading comprehension.

Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro

Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day is one of my favorite novels. I’d like to read some of his more recent work (Klara and the Sun, The Buried Giant), but really want to read Never Let Me Go first. It’s been on my list for too long, and is too highly recommended. I’m anticipating getting a lot out of this.

One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I’m super curious to read this seminal work that (I think?) established the genre of magical realism. I’ve managed to keep completely clear of the plot or premise.1

The Prophet - Kahlil Gibran

We had a fabulous excerpt from this read at our wedding ceremony, and so I’m hoping to read this short book to nourish my spirit on some cool, quiet morning this summer.

Rocannon’s World - Ursula K. Le Guin

Le Guin is one of my favorite authors; I aspire to read everything she’s written.2 I haven’t read any of her stuff in a while, so she’s definitely on my list for this summer. But which to choose? One of her most highly regarded books that I’ve yet to read is The Dispossessed. But it’s at the end of a series of loosely related novels, so I’m going to instead start at the beginning of that series with Rocannon’s World and then work my way forward to The Disposessed. Bonus: it’s short.

The Raven Tower - Ann Leckie

I’m always reading for productivity these days… but I love escaping into great Fantasy & Science Fiction. Summer reading should be filled with great Fantasy & Science Fiction. I really enjoyed Leckie’s Ancillary Justice for its novel ideas and immaculate writing (a rare combination in this genre). I’m hopeful that The Raven Tower will have both as well.

Startup: A Silicon Valley Adventure - Jerry Kaplan

I’d somehow missed this (seemingly classic?) book on the company Go’s failed attempt to make a pen based computer. I’m actually halfway through and just can’t put it down! So far, it’s especially fascinating to see how much Silicon Valley has changed since the heyday of the personal computer in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

In the Plex - Steven Levy

While we’re on the topic of Silicon Valley… I’ve had this on my shelf since it was published in 2011, right next to The Everything Store (which is excellent). I’ve somehow still not read it, but I’ve heard from a few friends that it’s really good. I’m hoping to get some fun new stories about the early days of Google.

The Soul of a New Machine - Tracy Kidder

I don’t know anything about this book, but it was so strongly recommended by a friend that I’m going to read it no matter what it’s about. Plus, it won the Pulitzer.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind - Yuval Noah Harari

I’m actually in the middle of this and put it down when things got busy. The first part was so fascinating that I want to reread it and take notes to post here. I’m going to read it at the same time as some of the others on this list so that I don’t have to wait to get into some great fiction.

The Code Book - Simon Singh

This could end up being a great companion to a summer coding project idea I have. I’ll definitely read it if I commit to that project, but hopefully will read it regardless as multiple friends have recommended it to me now.

Speed & Scale - John Doerr

I recently read Bill Gate’s How to Avoid A Climate Disaster and found it provided a helpful bird’s eye view on climate change. I’m a few chapters into Speed & Scale and am finding it similarly helpful, especially to see where Gates & Doerr agree and disagree.3

Can I really read all these books this summer?! We’ll see. My only reading rule is: there are no rules! I’m totally fine aborting a book if I dislike it, reading books that aren’t on this list, and skipping books that are… Just like I did with the stack of books I took home from the library each week back when I was just a kid reading his way through the summer.

  1. More and more, I try to go into books cold without reading their descriptions or reviews. It’s startling how much they give away. I get a lot more out of the reading if I don’t come in with any biases, or somebody else’s lens to look at it through. 

  2. Most of Le Guin’s work is great, but of course, some of it isn’t. I hope to read all of it anyways because it’s interesting to develop an intimate familiarity with a creator’s work, see how it evolves over time, how they refine techniques, approaches, and ideas, and what I can bring from that into my own creative work. 

  3. In a fun coincidence, John Doerr also figures prominently in Startup: A Silicon Valley Adventure, earlier in my list.