One of my goals after moving to Colorado was to get back into reading, and I’ve stuck to that goal pretty well this summer.
I used to be all about epic fantasy novels, but as I’ve gotten older, my tastes have changed. Now I find myself reaching for a nonfiction book before a novel, which I never thought would happen. Turns out my need to escape reality became a need to learn as much as possible.
That’s why I love reading — it makes me a better writer and a smarter, more interesting person. Still, nothing beats falling into a good novel every now and then…
Here’s what I’ve been reading this summer:
Genre: Travel, Nonfiction
I picked this book up at the airport on my way to Peru last spring, but only made it about halfway through before falling asleep on the plane. If only I’d been more proactive about finishing before heading out on the Machu Picchu trek! I didn’t actually finish it until I picked it up again in June.
It gives a compelling account of Inca history and the discovery of Machu Picchu all while following a few adventurous gringos as they travel along the same landscape that Hiram Bingham III did when he first happened upon Machu Picchu. It’s really the perfect read if you’re thinking about visiting the historical site (you absolutely need to!) or if you just want an entertaining story to inspire your next adventure.
Genre: Fiction, Novel
I didn’t read To Kill A Mockingbird in school. I actually read it post-college at the suggestion of my father who loved the movie, and unsurprisingly, I fell in love with the story.
So when the companion novel was released and the reviews started attacking Atticus’ character, I was torn. But my father once again insisted that we both read it, so we did.
It’s a slow start, but it struck me even more profoundly than the first book. What’s so important to realize about this story, however, is that it’s not a sequel. It’s not even really about racism in the south. It’s about a girl trying to come home to a place where she doesn’t really fit in anymore, and realizing for the first time that heroes are fallible.
It made me reflect on my relationship with my father, where we argue and struggle to agree. And how eventually you grow up and are shaped by your own experiences, not by the opinions of those you once looked up to. It’s about growing up, becoming your own person, and loving your family for whoever they are. It’s profound and beautiful, and I really enjoyed it.
If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear your take on this book! Such a fascinating and polarizing read.
Genre: History, Nonfiction
A friend pointed out to me that this is the quintessential “smart person book.” I didn’t pick it up because of this! I just really like history… But it’s still funny to see the look on people’s faces when you tell them this is your current read. I’m not done yet, this thing is huge. But it’s absolutely fascinating! (I know, I know….I’m a huge nerd.)
It’s all about cause and effect through history. Why did so many people who are scattered across the globe achieve such different levels of development at such different rates? It reads a bit like a textbook, so it’s not exactly my first choice for light reading before bed, but it’s teaching me something new every day and I love that. Plus, it’s a Pulitzer Prize winner, so that’s pretty cool too.
Genre: Social Science/Self-Improvement, Nonfiction
I just started this book as well, sort of a light read to accompany Guns, Germs, and Steel. I found it on a random shelf at my local bookstore and was drawn to the premise. Partially because it covers topics I’m currently dealing with, but also because the stories of people chasing their dreams are so inspiriting! I can’t wait to really dig into this one and discover a quest of my own.
Genre: Travel, Fiction
This book is next on my list. I gave it to my father for Christmas after he fell in love with Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods. Similar in subject matter, it’s about hiking the Appalachian Trail. But unlike A Walk in the Woods, this book covers a number of different hikers all having ridiculous and comical experiences on the trail. It’s about making this fairly common hike all your own, with plenty of humor mixed in. My dad raved about it so I can’t wait to start!
What are you reading this summer?
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