Our annual summer reading list, 2023 edition

Our annual summer reading list, 2023 edition

Happy 4th of July! Here's some summer reading picks from our staff.

Welcome to summer, folks — it’s time again for our annual summer reading list!


Members of our staff have reviewed some of their favorite books to help you find your summer read. Whether you’re looking for a classic epic or inspirational poetry, we have you covered.

Enjoy the list, enjoy summer and, as always, we'd love to hear some of your book suggestions.

Brian Bienkowski, Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

I picked up this (signed!) copy at one of my favorite independent bookstores here in the North Country and it grabbed me right from the rather ominous beginning. Weiden is an Indigenous author and gives an unflinching portrayal of modern reservation life. While it’s something of a thriller, it also explores what it means to reconnect with your culture. I read it fast and can’t wait for more to come from Weiden.

Kristina Marusic, I was a Bell by M. Soledad Caballero

This little book of poetry has a beautiful narrative arc that tells the story of the author’s emigration from Chile to the plains of Oklahoma as a child. I met the author at the launch for my own book, A New War on Cancer, at my favorite independent bookstore in Pittsburgh, and she shared that she’s a cancer survivor and has written about the disease too in this book of poetry. As a verbose journalist, I’m generally in awe of poets, and Caballero’s poetic grappling with a cancer diagnosis in the context of this much larger story is truly awe-inspiring.

Jimmy Evans, Dune by Frank Herbert

I found the Dune movie that came out recently to be really muddled and confusing, for which I am grateful because it prompted me to pick up the book. My inner-child-reader, who grew up on fantasy novels like Harry Potter, was enthralled by the epic story while the higher concept themes of ecology, philosophy and psychology running throughout the book gave my adult self plenty to reflect on.

Pete Myers, The Last Days of the Dinosaurs by Riley Black

Overwhelming evidence now confirms that 66 million years ago a giant asteroid plunged into the Gulf of Mexico near the Yucatan Peninsula, and literally within a few days almost all dinosaurs around the world perished as a result. Black’s riveting book traces what happens over the next million years as the life forms that survived the collision evolved to fill the myriad niches that were emptied by the strike, as well as new ones that were created.

Autumn Spanne, A Line in the World by Dorthe Nors 

Danish author Dorthe Nors spends a year exploring the landscapes of her childhood at the edge of the North Sea. It’s a meditative journey along a wild, windswept coast in constant change as forces of nature — and human beings — continuously reshape this vulnerable land. The people in turn are shaped by the sea, and Nors, an outsider despite generations of family history in this place, writes beautifully of fishers, farmers, stoic neighbors — and, most of all, women. “Women’s relationships with the landscape were relatively undocumented,” Nors writes. “Their feeling for nature was at best irrelevant, at worst dangerous. But now I have claimed the right to see and to describe.” It’s a book full of longing, both to understand the past and negotiate one’s place in an ever-changing world.

Angela Marie Hutchinson, The Fresh Prince Project: How the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Remixed America by Chris Palmer

This vibrant book tells the story of how a landmark TV show impacted our world by introducing a new vision of what it means to be Black in America. From how Quincy Jones pitched the show to exclusive interviews with the cast, crew, and writers, to how audiences connected with this hit TV series in the 1990s, the writer Chris Palmer captures an exclusive look into The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. It’s an enlightening book that’s sure to entertain, but also offers empowering lessons about stereotypes, hip-hop culture and generational gaps.

Maria Paula Rubiano, Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli

A midsummer road trip from New York to Arizona is the backdrop for this story in which a couple struggles to repair a fracture in their relationship and keep their family together. But, with each mile traveled west, the fracture seems to deepen –and eventually, collides with the country's fractured immigration policies. This novel blends fierce, dream-like voices with fragmented texts, sounds and images to narrate a powerful, imaginative – yet deeply rooted in reality – story.

Amanda VanJaarsveld, The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

This thought provoking, imaginative novel takes you on a journey and leaves you with an important lesson. Nora Seed, the main character in this story, finds herself exploring various versions of life in order to find the one that will bring her the most happiness. Along the way, she learns many valuable lessons. This book focuses on living life in the present and shows how meaningful our impact can be.

Do you have summer reading suggestions for us? We'd love to hear from you, email us at feedback@ehn.org.

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