10 Summer Reads That Could Change Your Life

by Skye Sherman - July 30, 2018

Summer reading assignments aren’t just for kids! You may not be in school anymore, but it’s still just as important to assign yourself vital life homework, such as to keep reading and filling your mind with new knowledge and transformative stories. Summer time is the perfect season of the year to form a stack of great books, new and old, to spend time diving into.

From cookbooks to self-help to saucy summer romances, there’s no telling what piece of literature you consume that could alter the course of your life forever. But the old adage rings true: you get out what you put in. And if you feed yourself with accurate, inspiring, encouraging information, you’re sure to reap the benefits of it in one way or another.

No matter what kind of book you’re looking to sink your teeth into this summer, we’ve got you covered. Read any or all of them and let us know your thoughts on their message.

No matter what kind of book you’re looking to sink your teeth into this summer, we’ve got you covered. Read any or all of them and let us know your thoughts on their message.

1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Published in the recent past—the 1980s, to be precise—The Alchemist is considered by many to be the manifesto of our times when it comes to living a life of purpose and adventure. Coelho’s short story has sold more than eighty million copies around the world and has been translated into 70 languages. The fictitious story follows the coming-of-age journey of an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago, who seeks treasure based on a recurring dream he has of finding it amongst the pyramids of Egypt. He encounters many life-altering situations and teachers along the way until he eventually finds that he holds all of the answers within himself. For a quick read that may help you to put life in perspective, pick up a copy of The Alchemist.

2. Emotional Agility by Susan David, PhD

Ever struggled with dealing your emotions in a way that is conducive to forward progress in life? This book may help. Emotional Agility is written by Susan David, a Harvard Medical School psychologist whose studies focus on how we process our emotions. She spoke at TedWomen 2017 and “in her book, Emotional Agility, Susan shares strategies for the radical acceptance of all of our emotions. How do we not let our self-doubts, failings, shame, fear, or anger hold us back? ‘We own our emotions,’ she says. ‘They don’t own us.’” Sine our emotions affect our entire lives, it’s important to handle them both delicately and effectively so that they only lend themselves to our progress, not holding us back.

3. Consider the Lobster and Other Essays by David Foster Wallace

A writer for HighExistence includes Consider the Lobster in a list entitled 12 Books That Destroyed and Rebuilt My Mind—so, needless to say, it’s sure to impact the way you think. “[Consider the Lobster] is a rare sort of book—one which traverses boldly across numerous disciplines to dissect the dark underbelly of modern American culture, politics, and society with a razor-sharp scalpel. Published a little over 10 years ago, Wallace’s incisive, far-seeing commentary remains utterly poignant today, and its central theme—that we, as individuals, must take responsibility for becoming thoughtful and scrupulous cultural participants lest we be led as blind cattle to doom by the misguided or maligned agendas of those in power—is arguably timeless.”

Many read Wallace for his writing style alone, so opting to read a book of his that takes a deep dive into the important issues affecting modern society is a brave and bold move, but one that guarantees an expanded view of human existence and our current state of affairs.

4. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

If you’re a fan of eye opening real life stories, you’re sure to love this book; Best Health Mag lists The Glass Castle as one of the “must-read books for the summer.” The Glass Castle is a 2005 memoir by Jeannette Walls which tells the story of her chaotic and unconventional upbringing by two strange and unstable parents. According to the Senior Content Editor at Best Health Mag, “The book is about the resilience of children and the bonds of family. The dynamic between Walls and her father in particular brought me to tears. You hope this family finds peace—and, ultimately, it does.”

This is the kind of book that will make you look twice at the stories playing out around you. And if you struggled through a childhood guided by more-than-imperfect parents, you may find inspiration, encouragement, and even forgiveness in these pages. Best of all, The Glass Castle was recently made into a feature film, so you can watch the movie upon finishing the story in paginated version.

5. Against All Grain by Danielle Walker

Ever thought of embarking on the journey toward eating a more balanced and healthful food regimen, or even a paleo diet? Consider this your bible for making that dream into a reality that describes your own culinary lifestyle.

This cookbook contains helpful information on how to go paleo, the benefits of eating a paleo diet, and lots of inspiration for the kitchen. Going paleo can offer a wide array of health benefits, including consuming clean foods that are free of harmful preservatives and chemicals, a more nutrient rich diet, anti inflammatory properties, and sticking more closely to nature, the way we were created to eat. Maybe you don’t fill your plate with superfoods, but sticking to a paleo diet can tremendously benefit people who suffer from a wide variety of food-related ailments and illnesses.

This paleo cookbook is what some consider to be a necessary ingredient in the “starter kit” toward becoming a full blown paleo eater. It will teach you how to prepare a varied selection of paleo foods, from sandwich bread to clam chowder to chocolate cream pie. Plus, the cookbook is filled with eye catching photos to help you better understand the proper way to prepare your new favorite paleo recipes. The author also blogs on the regular, meaning that you can check out her view on paleo life and try out a few of her recipes before you even purchase her cookbook for yourself.

6. Mind on Fire: A Memoir of Madness and Recovery by Arnold Thomas Fanning

Anyone who has dealt with mental illness either directly or second hand can learn something from this book. The Irish Times includes Mind on Fire in an article entitled Great summer reads: Novels, thrillers, love stories, histories.

In the words of The Irish Times, “There are very few people whose lives haven’t been touched by mental illness, and everyone can benefit from reading playwright Arnold Thomas Fanning’s stunning, visceral account of what it’s like to live with a mind that threatened to burn itself out. Drawing not just on his own memories but on those of friends and family, as well as official medical and police records, Fanning’s gripping memoir offers both hope and insight for anyone struggling directly or indirectly with the reality of mental illness.”

This one may not be a light read, but if it offers hope or at least understanding to those who have to battle mental illness on a day to day basis, then calling it life-changing is an understatement.

7. Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

Destined from the start to be a popular summer read, Rosie Walsh’s debut novel Ghosted was released as a Book of the Month July 2018 selection and became an instant hit in our modern age of technology and relationships. Sure, the message of this work of fiction may not be groundbreaking or earth-shattering by any stretch of the imagination. But sometimes, a good old-fashioned beach read really can refresh and recharge you in a way that changes your life. In the same way a vacation may give you the space you need to clear your mind and think in more imaginative, productive ways, having the right summer read in hand can offer the same benefits. If that sounds like what you need to change your life this summer, Ghosted is the book for you.

8. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

If human interaction and efficiently maneuvering social settings doesn’t come naturally to you—and even if it does—your career path and relationships will thank you for reading How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

This book provides practical tips and advice for becoming the influential, well liked person you were born to be. From teaching you to become a better and more attentive listener to showing you the ropes of making people like you, this book can benefit you in a variety of ways. People claim that this book comes with positive side effects such as helping you get out of a mental rut, teaching you to make friends quickly and easily, clearing the path for you to be more successful, and increasing your popularity. And who doesn’t want those things?

9. Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World—and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling

We could all use a bit of added positivity, but most of us don’t want to pin our hopes on false optimism or misguided beliefs, either. This book provides the perfect happy medium because it provides scientific evidence and cold, hard facts to help reveal to us the flaws in our thinking that lead us to unnecessary pessimism.

The book is included by STAT in an article titled The 39 best health and science books to read this summer and Steven Pinker, a celebrated author and the Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, recommends the book with this short blurb: “Is the average life expectancy of a human being today 50, 60, or 70 years? How many of the world’s 1-year-olds have been vaccinated against some disease? In the past two decades, has the proportion of the world’s population living in extreme poverty doubled, halved, or remained the same? If you’re like most people—indeed, if you’re like most experts—you’ll do worse at these questions than a chimpanzee picking the answers at random, because you’ll be too pessimistic (the answers are 70, 80 percent, and halved).”

A book containing proof that suggests to us skeptics why we should view the world a little bit brighter and happier? That kind of read surely belongs on anyone’s shelf—and summer reading list.

10. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

What’s a list of life-changing books without the inclusion of the biography of a visionary who changed the course of history forever? Whether or not you sport the newest Macbook or a shiny metallic iPhone in your pocket, this popular tome on the life and work of Apple founder Steve Jobs shares an honest glimpse into the mind of a man who quite literally changed everything with his inventions.

The evolution of personal computers is an unfolding story that many of us have watched over the course of our lifetime, but the world certainly isn’t going back to the way it was before we had access to unlimited information at the push of a button. This book provides a detailed look into the life of a complex man, and it has the power to change the way you view modernity and the thinkers who shape the world.

After all, in the words of Steve Jobs himself: “When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. … Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it… Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

Please see the slideshow above for a peek at these titles, then head to your local library (or just open a new tab and order the book on Amazon) to get started on these reads! Is your favorite life-changing book missing from this list? Reach out to us on Twitter @cpohealth to share your feedback and opinions, or feel free to contact the writer @skyesherman. We're always happy to discuss great new summer reads!


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