Compiled by Nicole Tomassi, Marketing & Conference Manager
With the year almost halfway through, it seems likely that 2020 will leave a lasting imprint on our collective memory. We are in a defining moment that is compelling us to examine painful truths about ourselves, our communities, and the larger society that we are citizens of. Hopefully, we will all make a conscious effort to move forward with more compassion, empathy, and respect towards one another so that we can begin to heal the deep wounds that have been inflicted.
It is against this backdrop that my colleagues are sharing with you the books that they plan to read this summer. Whether the selections result from an interest in gaining a deeper understanding of current events, or to serve as a reprieve from the world around us, all of the titles provide a glimpse of the individual who has chosen them.
Below these selections, you will find more information about other titles that you may be interested in. To purchase any of the titles shown along with thousands of others while also supporting the efforts of local, independent bookstores, click on the cover image to open up the Indiebound website. I also invite you to drop us a note and tell us what book(s) you will be reading this summer.
The Great Influenza by John M Barry
Why I want to read this book: This book is about the Spanish flu from a hundred years ago. Would be interesting to know what happened then and how history could help us today. Given the advancements in science and medicine since 1918, it is a revelation that things are not that different even today and we are struggling with similar issues.
Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits by Bertrand Russell
Publisher: Routledge Classics
Why I want to read this book: This has been on my reading list for a long time. In this book, Bertrand Russell questions the reliability of our assumptions on knowledge. This was quite a controversial piece of work when it was published (1948). It examines the relation between individual experience and the general body of scientific knowledge. The perplexities of philosophy are beautifully explored. A gem of a read, pretty relevant today.
Selections chosen by: Mona Tiwary, Director of Publishing Services, WPS India
Olive Kitteridge followed by Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
Publisher: Random House
Why I want to read this book: Olive Kitteridge is one of my favorite books, but it’s definitely been a few years since I read it, so I plan to revisit it before reading Strout’s follow-up book, which was published recently (a decade after the first book!). I cannot wait to sink back into Strout’s beautiful depictions of the interior workings of her characters. If the new book is anywhere near as good as the first one, I’ll be happy!
Selections chosen by: Ashley Moore, Copyeditor
The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal about Identity, Race, Wealth and Power by Deidre Mask
Publisher: Profile Books
Why I want to read this book: This was recommended by a pal who works at Profile Books in London, where the staff there have raved about it. There are dozens of quirky, ‘How Pudding Lane got its name’-type novelty/gift titles out there. This book, however, is a far more thought-provoking and global approach to the influence and political and socio-economic importance of addresses. The author is an academic who attended Harvard and Oxford Universities, as well as the National University of Ireland.
Selected by: Tim Davies, Managing Director, Westchester Publishing Services UK
All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny
Publisher: Minotaur Books (Macmillan)
Why I want to read this book: Her Inspector Gamache series is always a great read. Good mystery plot-lines and memorable characters. I’ve become a Louise Penny junkie, and get absolutely giddy when I see a new one coming. This one should release by the end of summer.
Selected by: Tina Mingolello, Customer Service Representative
Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare
Publisher: Pearson, Bevington editor
Why I want to read this book: I read one of Shakespeare’s plays each summer as I have since high school. This play focuses on morality and justice.
The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens
Publisher: Wordsworth Classics Edition, Hardcover
Why I want to read this book: Read along with G.K. Chesterton’s “biography,” one sees the changing of the times so beautifully encapsulated in his novels.
The Eighth Day of Creation: Makers of the Revolution in Biology by Horace Freeland Judson
Publisher: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press
Why I want to read this book: This is one of the better books on science but definitely the best book on molecular biology as told by the scientists involved in the 20th century understanding of DNA, RNA, and Protein structures and functions.
Selections chosen by: Tim Yetzina, Senior Supervising Editor, STEM, Westchester Education Services
The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin
Why I want to read this book: One of my most favorite things in a book is when the setting becomes its own character, and that’s the case for The City We Became, which takes place in New York City. I’ve enjoyed previous books by this author and this book is the first in a planned series, so I’m looking forward to reading it!
Selected by: Kimberly Giambattisto, Senior Production Editor
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Why I want to read this book: A lyrical mystery! Set in the marshes of the North Carolina coast, the book uses beautiful language to explore the marsh and nature while it tells the story of a reclusive Marsh Girl, Kya Clark, who is abandoned by her family, the school system, and the whole town. Read it before the movie comes out.
Selected by: Anne Riccio, Senior Supervising Editor, Literacy & Humanities, Westchester Education Services
Marching Powder by Rusty Young
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Why I want to read this book: It is based on the true story of Thomas McFadden, who was apprehended in 1996 in Bolivia with five kilos of cocaine in his suitcase and imprisoned in San Pedro prison. This book is a memoir of unusual prison conditions and drug traffickers who ran tours inside Bolivia’s famous San Pedro Prison.
Selected by: Rishi Arora, Project Manager, WPS India
Whistling Vivaldi: And Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do by Claude M. Steele
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
Why I want to read this book: In every aspect of my work, with Westchester and beyond, I find myself up against stereotypes in myself and others. I am interested in understanding how human beings see one another and how we can work with our human wiring to broaden our horizons.
Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi
Publisher: Nation Books
Why I want to read this book: History is one subject (math is the other) I passed through schooling without mastering, which has left great holes in my understanding of the world. Racism is pervasive in our culture in the U.S. and in many cultures globally, and one step in understanding how to dismantle it is understanding how our culture and society has been built around racist ideas. I bought this book some time ago, and started it, then put it down. This summer, I intend to finish it.
On the Boundaries of Theological Tolerance in Islam by Dr. Sherman A. Jackson (translated from Faysal al-Tafriqa Bayna al-Islam wa al-Zandaqa by Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Why I want to read this book: Al-Ghazali was an 11th century philosopher, who is one of the most influential Muslim philosophers of all time. I started reading this text for a class on pastoral care, and was astounded at the depth of wisdom present in it. Although written centuries ago, it contains principles and processes that are still relevant today in our modern context. As a Muslim who grew up in a conservative Muslim family in the West, I found in my brief interaction with this classical text, liberation of thought that I haven’t seen anywhere else in modern Muslim culture.
Selections chosen by: Nilofer Ali, Resources Manager, Westchester Education Services
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Why I want to read this book: Oftentimes I pick up a book to get away from reality for a bit. In recent years, because of the everyday routine of work, motherhood, and the many events we had planned every weekend, I’ve had little time to read for enjoyment. Then, in March of this year, there was more time to do some of the activities I love. I could finally begin to tackle the stacks of books that are laying on my bookshelves waiting to be devoured. But where to start? What better way to escape the reality of a global pandemic than to delve into a dark fantasy book with a bonus love story? I have an image of Cirque du Soleil mixed with The Umbrella Academy, both of which I love, and I’m looking forward to discovering what kind of magic this novel has in store for me.
Selected by: Melody Negron, Senior Production Editor
There, There by Tommy Orange
Why I want to read this book: Tommy Orange is a Native American author (he’s a citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations of Oklahoma). The book is set in Oakland, California and in it, Orange explores the lives of a large cast of characters, each grappling with what it means to be Native American in an urban setting. It highlights the many challenges presented with being a non-white in a predominantly white society. Though I’m not far into it yet, the prose is elegant, haunting, and electric and I’m looking forward to delving deeper.
Selected by: Kevin J. Gray, President & Chief Content Officer, Westchester Education Services
Dowry Murder: The Imperial Origins of a Cultural Crime by Veena Talwar Oldenburg
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Why I want to read this book: I want to read this book to understand the reason of dowry and how it came into existence. The Hindu custom of dowry has long been blamed for the murder of wives and female infants in India. In this highly provocative book, Veena Oldenburg argues that these killings are neither about dowry nor reflective of an Indian culture or caste system that encourages violence against women. Rather, such killings can be traced directly to the influences of the British colonial era.
Bitter Fruit: The Very Best of Saadat Hasan Manto, Edited and Translated by Khalid Hasan
Publisher: Penguin India
Why I want to read this book: I first read Saadat Hasan Manto as a teenager. I was too young to understand the intricacies of his stories but I enjoyed what I read and craved for more. I love Manto because he was honest. He was a bluntly true writer and he created his own peculiar tell-all style. He didn’t write only the good qualities of his characters. Bitter Fruit is for all those who love reading the accounts of reality and want to experience the pain of partition. This book is a sheer treat to those who love reading.
Selections chosen by: Nitesh Sharma, Senior Project Manager, WPS India
Whittling the Old Sea Captain, Revised Edition by Mike Shipley
Publisher: Fox Chapel Publishing
Why I want to read this book: When my wife and I bought our house years ago, it was very much a fixer-upper. A deck to repair, appliances in need of updating, windows to seal and paint, rooms to insulate and sheetrock, and so on. At the time, my late father was elderly and battling multiple myeloma. He’d visit, sit in a chair, puff a cigar, and whittle figurines for his grandkids and nephews while I reenacted the last verse of “Cats in the Cradle”, and was too busy to whittle along with him while I tackled household projects, but chatted with him the whole while. He had grown up in a maritime community and figurines of old ship captains were a favorite of his. That and more Santa Claus figurines than our trunk of Christmas decorations can hold. During the pandemic, being stuck at home, I turned to cleaning and organizing to fill some of the time. I nearly Marie Kondo’d a box of books I had read to Goodwill, until finding that underneath some old paperbacks were a ton of woodcarving books from Fox Chapel and Schiffer Publishing that my father had left me when he passed. So, I plan to try to recapture some of that lost time, sit in a chair, and whittle away. While my time on the ocean as a boy is a more distant memory than it was for him, I may even try my hand at an old sea captain figurine. Maybe one with a beard and cigar like my old man…
Selected by: Tyler M. Carey, Chief Revenue Officer
Our friends at Mint Editions host a virtual book club, and their June selection is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. You can follow them on Instagram for more information about joining the book club and downloading a copy of the ebook.
Looking for more reading ideas? One of these lists is sure to have a title that interests you:
5 Summer Books and Other Things To Do At Home – Bill Gates
Publishers Weekly Editors’ Picks for Summer Reads
20 Best Summer Books to Have On Your 2020 Reading List – Travel & Leisure
New York Times Book Review – 10 New Books We Recommend – may require login
25 Best Summer Books to Read 2020 – Good Housekeeping