9 Must-Read Books for the Dog Days of Summer

It's not too late to tackle that summer reading list

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(This article originally appeared on HuffingtonPost50.com.)


The days are starting to get shorter and the start of school can now be measured in days, not weeks. That stack of books on your nightstand stares at you as if to ask, “Where did the summer go? Why didn’t we spend more time together?”

But it’s not too late to check off a few titles from your summer reading list.

We recommend putting a priority on these nine must-read books.

1. 'Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide' by Michael Kinsley

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Michael Kinsley, a well-known columnist for Vanity Fair, tackles the grim topics of old age and dying and actually makes them humorous in this new bestseller. The New York Times said: “If it’s possible for a book about illness and death to be delightful, this one fills the bill.”

2. 'My Name Is Lucy Barton' by Elizabeth Strout

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This new book from Pulitzer Prize-winner Elizabeth Strout shines a light on the often complicated mother-daughter relationship. The New York Times said: “Lucy Barton’s story is, in meaningful ways, about loneliness, about an individual’s isolation when her past — all that has formed her — is invisible and incommunicable to those around her.”

3. 'Father’s Day' by Simon Van Booy

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This new novel from British-American writer Simon Van Booy focuses on the journey of two people searching for a future in the wreckage of their past. The Boston Globe said: “In this novel, Van Booy is at his most poignant, showing how redemption can arise from heartbreaking circumstances.”

4. 'This Chair Rocks' by Ashton Applewhite

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Author and activist Ashton Applewhite explores the roots of ageism while debunking the myths surrounding old age in this new manifesto. Anne Lamott said: “Wow. This book totally rocks. It arrived on a day when I was in deep confusion and sadness about my age — 62. Everything about it, from my invisibility to my neck. Within four or five wise, passionate pages, I had found insight, illumination and inspiration. I never use the word empower, but this book has empowered me."

5. 'Miller’s Valley' by Anna Quindlen

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This new novel from the prolific Anna Quindlen is about a small town on the verge of a big change. The New York Times said: “What does home really mean? Is it the people around you who make a place familiar and loved, or is it the tie to land that’s been in your family for generations? Anna Quindlen’s mesmerizing new novel investigates both.”

6. 'Homegoing' by Yaa Gyasi

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This sweeping novel follows the lives of two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, who are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana, and whose lives travel along very different paths. The New York Times Book Review said: “The hypnotic debut novel by Yaa Gyasi, a stirringly gifted writer . . . magical . . . the great, aching gift of the novel is that it offers, in its own way, the very thing that enslavement denied its descendants: the possibility of imagining the connection between the broken threads of their origins.”

7 'When Breath Becomes Air' by Paul Kalanithi

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This popular memoir by a young neurosurgeon diagnosed with stage lV lung cancer focuses on hope in the face of tragedy. Cheryl Strayed said: “[When Breath Becomes Air] split my head open with its beauty.”

8. 'The Gene: An Intimate History' by Siddhartha Mukherjee

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For more serious-minded readers, this book examines the history of the gene and, in particular, what happens when humans are able to read and write their own genetic information. The Boston Globe said: “His topic is compelling. . . . And it couldn’t have come at a better time.”

9. 'I Almost Forgot About You' by Terry McMillan

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This story of a woman who feels increasingly restless — despite enjoying a mostly wonderful life — is designed to inspire readers to take chances. USA Today said: “McMillan is funny and frank about men, women and sex. Her summaries of Georgia’s marriages and major love connections — ‘this is what he gave me’ — are powerful and poetic.”


By Ann Brenoff
Ann Brenoff is a writer and columnist for the Huffington Post.

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