Best Books for Your Summer Reading List

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Remember when we dreaded “summer reading assignments” because it meant that we technically had homework during the longest vacation of the year? Times have changed and now that we’re older, we peruse Barnes & Noble or the book aisles at Target to find the perfect novel to pack in our beach bags and keep us entertained on the sand. Here’s a list of some bestsellers that we recommend for your relaxing beach day:

13 Reasons Why

Everybody has been talking about the new Netflix original series based on Jay Asher’s bestselling book. And you know that they say: the book is always better [than the Netflix series]. The book follows the story of Hannah Baker as she prepares to take her own life. Ultimately, readers are left with a heartbreaking list of 13 opportunities that were missed, 13 people who let Hannah down, and 13 reasons why she felt suicide was her only option.

It’s not just the storyline that keeps you engaged, it’s the lessons you learn about kindness and the fragility of life. Though the book is shelved in the young-adult section, the content is mature and should be handled with care. Asher’s book deals with topics plaguing teenagers and adults alike, including bullying, sexual assault, and suicide.

Because the book deals with these sensitive topics and it has been so popular, it has come under much scrutiny, and perhaps for good reason. Criticisms of the book and show alike include the lack of discussion about mental health and depression, which are keys to understanding suicide. To combat the silence, the Jed Foundation has posted 13 talking points that will help start conversations about mental health and depression, since they are not explicitly discussed in the book or the Netflix series.

Though controversial, 13 Reasons Why is an important book to read (though trigger warnings should be taken into account) because it is part of a conversation about mental health that has been so sorely lacking. If anything is gleaned from reading Asher’s book, we hope that it is kindness for those struggling, alertness to the pain of others, and a sense of urgency to put an end to bullying, sexual assault, and suicide.

**If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text “START” to 741741.**

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

This is a self help book, of sorts, but the content never feels cheesy or forced. In his book, blogger Mark Manson offers advice about how to be happier in a world that is constantly trying to sell us on something. Manson backs his claims about not giving a f*ck with academic research and straightforward humor. The book is both witty and harsh, but also refreshingly honest and heartfelt. Manson talks to readers as if he were a close friend— his tone is one of concern and, at times, stringency.

In the introduction, Manson writes, “The problem is that giving too many fucks is bad for your mental health. It causes you to become overly attached to the superficial and fake, to dedicate your life to chasing a mirage of happiness and satisfaction. The key to a good life is not giving a fuck about only what is true and immediate and important.” If you’ve been feeling crummy lately or if you’ve been looking for a fresh perspective on life, pick up this book and read through the pages while you bask in the sun on the beach. It could be just what you need.

Fahrenheit 451

If you would rather skip the contemporary literature and catch up on your classics, there may not be a more relevant choice than Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. This book is taught in most high school American literature classes, and we can only hope that it is resonating with students as they begin to navigate the world on their own. The book paints a frighteningly accurate picture of a future American society in which television rules the world (mindless masses sit in front of the screen and refer to the characters on them as their “family”) and literature is on the brink of extinction.

The story’s protagonist, Guy Montag, is a fireman whose job is to start fires rather than put them out. Specifically, Guy’s work is setting fire to printed books, which are outlawed and considered to be the most dangerous commodity. The themes of Fahrenheit 451 touch on censorship, the downfalls of mass media, and the importance of literature. The book’s themes are particularly poignant today, especially when considering the political atmosphere and the rise of mass media.

Whether you’re in the mood for a good contemporary fiction, a self-help, or a tried and true classic, we hope that you pick up a book and get lost in its pages during your next day at the beach.

Lauren lives in OB with her French bulldog, Elvis Presley. She loves laughter and the great outdoors. You can contact her at [email protected]

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