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Our Choices for a Great Summer Reading List

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If you’re heading down to the beach this summer for some quiet time with a book, we have a few suggestions. This summer has really been one for the books (literally!) as far as thought-provoking bestsellers. Fiction or nonfiction, there’s plenty to choose from. We’ve narrowed down our list to our top three:

A Book of American Martyrs by Joyce Carol Oates

This timely fiction piece by the acclaimed author is a story enveloped in the abortion debate. As the Republican Congress plots to defund and cripple Planned Parenthood and a woman’s right to choose seems to be disappearing before our eyes, “American Martyrs” probes all the wounds of the current abortion debate in our country. The book is hefty at more than 700 pages, and though it may take a the whole summer to work through, you won’t be disappointed. The book is explosive and the storyline has all the fixin’s of an epic drama, all while feeling very authentic. The story follows Luther Dunphy, an activist who in the first pages of the novel shoots and kills a doctor who regularly performs abortions, Gus Voorhees. Oates traces the lives of the two men and the ways they came to decipher right from wrong. The book is one that opens your mind to new perspectives— ones that are surprising and thought-provoking.

The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs

This heart wrenching memoir is written by a dying mother about the last two years of her life. The book is a stunning work, a thoughtful meditation on the sweet and the sour. Riggs’ book is a poetic meditation on the years she was given, and her story shows readers not just how to appreciate life while you’re living it, but how to embrace its end, as well. Riggs’ conquers the topic of death and dying with grace and even humor at times, and asks her readers to contemplate the concept and get familiar with the equalizing event. Nina Riggs is a descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and her writing is reminiscent of his in many ways. She writes that, like Emerson, she was drawn to “finding beauty and magic . . . in the natural world, and in our smaller, everyday worlds… When I found the Great Seer of my family had already dealt, beautifully, almost ecstatically, with these issues, it was a real source of inspiration.” The book will bring you joy and despair, as life usually does. Reading Riggs’ memoir feels cleansing and spiritual in a way, and we highly recommend taking a journey through the pages.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson

We know, the title is a doozy and it seems a little overwhelming. But don’t judge a book by its cover! You’ve probably heard of Neil DeGrasse Tyson, as a science communicator, Tyson regularly appears on television, radio, and various other media outlets. He has been a regular guest on The Colbert Report and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Now, the celebrated astrophysicist has one of the most talked-about nonfiction books that discusses astronomical topics in small doses. Today, everyone wants more time. Tyson breaks down big questions of space and time into consumable chapters that make it enjoyable for anyone, anytime. From black holes to quantum mechanics, it’s way more thought provoking than you would expect. Also, you’ll look like an intellectual badass reading an astrophysics book on the beach this summer.

Don’t forget to take a book with you to the beach this summer while you work on your tan.

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Lauren lives in OB with her French bulldog, Elvis Presley. She loves laughter and the great outdoors. You can contact her at lauren@sdentertainer.com.

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