Graphic Novels and Illustrated Books
Discover (or return to) Pratchett's satirical, smart, silly Discworld. Meet Cohen the Barbarian, an aging warrior who was a legend in his lifetime but now resents that he never died in battle and can’t even remember where he put his teeth. Bonus: full color illustrations throughout.
Recommended by: Jonathan Segal
In this comic memoir, Allie Brosh writes and draws about her childhood, her dogs, and generally how poorly adjusted she is for living in the world. Her hilarious and creepy illustrations of social awkwardness and depression make even the darkest moments laugh out loud funny. She tells a very real story that is affirming without denying the fact that life can be very hard sometimes -- but in the end, there’s always cake and the internet!
Recommended by: Pat Higgiston
Perhaps the most famous comic of all time, about a group of superheroes who have fallen from their glory days and are now stalked by an assassin. Dark, compelling, and a game changer: don't miss this one.
Recommended by: James French
Subtitled The Melancholic Young Lincoln, this graphic novel presents our 16th president as you've never seen him before: young, rapidly rising in fame, and debilitated by depression. Compelling history in a format rarely seen for presidential biographies makes this one a winner.
Recommended by: Mark Bledstein
Narrative Nonfiction, Memoir, and Essay
Is Big Data good? What's the danger of a world composed of thousands of black box algorithms? In this book, learn exactly what a black box is (hint, you've given your data to lots of them!) and what it means for your future. The black box models are why ads follow you around the internet -- and they affect things like loans and job prospects. Welcome to the dark side of Big Data.
Recommended by: Jacob Farkas
What might current civilization look like to an anthropologist in the far future? These interconnected essays range over any number of topics, cite disparate thinkers -- Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Junot Díaz, Richard Linklater -- and ask us to examine the question: will the truths we currently hold dear someday look like quaint, baseless beliefs? This is the perfect book for deep thinking on a slow summer day: it's short, smart, and strangely fun.
Recommended by: Micah Dov Gottlieb
The 1920s are famous as the golden age of jazz and glamour, but it was also an era of fevered yearning for communion with the spirit world, after the loss of tens of millions in the First World War and the Spanish-flu epidemic. History comes alive in this textured account of the showdown between Harry Houdini, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the so-called Witch of Lime Street, whose iconic lives intersected at a time when science was on the verge of embracing the paranormal.
Recommended by: Shauna Finn
A legendary jazz musician and composer reflects on an extraordinary life and a thriving career that has spanned seven decades. Hancock has had an enormous influence on acoustic and electric jazz, R&B, funk, and hip-hop. Honest, enlightening, and as electrifyingly vital as its author, this is an invaluable contribution to jazz literature and an intimate, insightful portrait of a creative life.
Recommended by: Vin Scialla
New York Harbor was once one vast oyster bed. By the 19th century, oysters became Gotham's most famous export. Until the early 1900s, these bivalves were consumed by all social classes in the raucous and gilded taverns of the city, and they acted as a natural filtration system for the city's waterways. What caused the demise of the oyster? This immersive nonfiction traces the social and environmental history of New York City through the rise and fall of the oyster.
Recommended by: Michel de Konkoly Thége
The best nonfiction reads like a novel. When a Cholera outbreak spreads through London's Soho in 1845, people begin dying at record rates. Is there a way to stop it before it claims the entire population? Join John Snow & Henry Whitehead as they solve this true-life forensic mystery. This is compelling historical and scientific read, chock-full of information and designed to keep the pages turning.
Recommended by: Margaret Magee Paul
Did you know aspiring cartel bosses look to big business -- McDonalds, Walmart, Coca-Cola -- to figure out how to run the show? Tom Wainwright takes you through Andean cocaine fields, Central American prisons, Colorado pot shops, and the online drug dens of the Dark Web to expose how this 250 billion dollar business works, and along the way shows how to run a cartel -- and how to defeat them.
Recommended by: Peter Heinz
This classic work of dystopic fiction is, like 1984, suddenly hot again -- because so much of what it describes could just as easily be front page news as classic literature. This page-turner will make you think, and might make you want to hide under your beach towel -- but you won't regret spending time in this brave new world.
Recommended by: Vinay Chowdhry
Janusz Korczak was a Polish physician, educator, and beloved author. During WW II, the Jewish orphanage he directed was relocated to the Warsaw ghetto, and although his celebrity afforded chances to escape, he refused to abandon the children. He was killed at Treblinka along with the children. King Matt the First, one of Korczak's most beloved tales, is the story of a boy who becomes king and sets out to reform his kingdom. But don't be fooled -- this whimsical tale is no ordinary children's book.
Recommended by: Sergei Mikhelson
This 1922 classic introduces reader to a ferryman who listens to the river. In his blessed youth he followed the Buddha, but he has yet to find himself. He travels through spirituality and decadence, and eventually comes to his own sense of peace. This deceptively short book has changed generations of readers. Will it change you?
Recommended by: Arturo Acevedo
Governess sees ghosts. Or does she? This classic tale of psychological horror will keep you up late and make sure you never want to turn the lights out. It's short, but not light -- and definitely not something you want to skip.
Recommended by: Ann Carroll
This modern classic takes place in a futuristic city governed by a repressive, totalitarian super-State. In this society, ordinary citizens have fallen into a passive stupor of complacency, blind to the insidious growth of a rampant, violent youth culture. This is a violent but fascinating book -- read it, then see the movie, and prepare to have your mind blown.
Recommended by: Stephen MacGillivray
What you need to know!
Requirements: All students MUST READ at least two titles from the Community Reads list, which is this page right here.
(The "Supplemental List" tab is an additional, optional resource, for those who wish to read more than the two books this summer. You can also just read more than two from this page. We believe in choice!)
The books on the Community Reads list are books the faculty, staff, and administration have loved and want to share with you, our students. In September, we will meet in book discussion groups to talk about these books in our annual Book Circle groups.
A few technical details: Books are listed here in general categories for your browsing ease, with the recommending community member at the end of the description. Do note that many of these books are available in many different editions. Read any edition you like (including e and audio), whether or not it is the one depicted here, unless the description notes otherwise.
You've probably heard of this speculative work, which was one of the biggest books of the last year. Whitehead's Underground Railroad is a physical thing, and this is the story of escaped slave Cora, who travels it through time and geography looking for a safe place. Brilliant and though-provoking, painful and beautiful: don't miss this one.
Recommended by: Chris Keimig
Heart-breaking and heart-warming, this beach read will make you laugh, cry, and feel all the feels. Suddenly popular Sibylla and grief-stricken Lou narrate their wilderness term in alternating voices. 20 teens in the wilderness, what could go wrong? Well.... Wood's wry humor and painfully real scenarios will leave you wanting more more more.
Recommended by: Karyn Silverman
When a nature photographer journeys to a remote island paradise populated only by a small group of scientific researchers, only to be assaulted, paradise rapidly becomes hell. Both a stunning look at the natural world and a classic psychological mystery, this will keep you up past your bedtime.
Recommended by: Alexis Kahan
An award-winning work of science fiction. In the far future, humans are poised to make contact with aliens, but treachery and intrigue interfere. Sweeping adventure, and a powerful story of courage, self-discovery, and love, this is true science fiction where both the science and the fiction are fantastic.
Recommended by: Preethi Thomas
A fun fact: Robert Galbraith is J.K. Rowling. And that sense of place, plot, and character she brought to Harry Potter's worls turns out to translate really well to a contemporary murder mystery series headlined by a one-legged Vet and PI. Basically, it's nothing like Harry Potter -- but it's just as immersive and hard to put down.
Recommended by: Heather Brubaker
On a dark and icy night, two best friends get into a horrific car accident. One survives physically; the other will remain comatose for life. What happens when a life is turned inside out and love becomes as distant as a star in the sky? This is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion-from dark suffering to true happiness as our heroine fights her way back to her own future, written in Hoffman's always stunning prose.
Recommended by: Joanne Magee
This episodic novel tells the story of Eva, a motherless Minnesota girl who is raised to love food and eventually becomes a chef like no other. Perfect for sampling a little at a time, guaranteed to make you hungry, and likely to make you smile and maybe cry just a little, this summer read will fill you up.
Recommended by: Mark Silberberg
Spain, 1945: in a city still recovering from the horrors of the war, a young boy stumbles on a secret. This is magical realism, historical fiction, and a bibliophile's dream, a fantastic, irresistible read about families and books, about secrets and love. Be transported; you won't regret it.
Recommended by: Jane Belton
A great summer read, a page turner, a hold onto your hat and to the seat of your pants adventure, complex and compulsively readable. A terrific yarn told by a main character who can’t speak but who has quite a story to tell.
Recommended by: Phil Kassen
Born on the day that WWII broke out, Fay Knox cannot remember her early childhood in London before she moved to a small village with her mother. This book is a quest for Fay"s true identity, which takes her through Paris and London in search of her true self. Intertwining two stories and a sweeping family saga, this is a perfect summer read.
Recommended by: Adele de Biasi Pelz
A multigenerational family epic that follows one Chinese-Cuban-American family, from Chen Pan, who leaves China in 1857 on the promise of success in Cuba only to find himself enslaved as an indentured worker, to Chen Pan's great-grand-grandson Domingo, who moves with his father to the United States, where he enlists to fight in Vietnam. Powerful and provocative family drama that examines the world.
Recommended by: Susan Now
In a world beset by amassing forces of darkness, one organization—the Regional Office—and its coterie of super-powered female assassins protects the globe from annihilation. In this award-winning comic work of speculative fiction, super powered ass-kicking women fight the forces of darkness. A perfect romp for warm summer nights.
Recommended by:Tom Murphy
In a near future where death has been eliminated, how to control for population growth? An elite, almost monastic group, Scythes are trained killers, randomly culling people to avoid overpopulation, sanctioned by the Artifical Intelligence that has replaced God but governed only by themselves. When two teens become apprentice Scythes, they are exposed to a darkness beyond death. Fast, fascinating, and bound to leave you wanting more: this is THE read of the summer.
Recommended by: Joy Piedmont
Annotations on this page and throughout the supplemental list are the original creations of the LREI librarians and faculty unless otherwise noted; in some cases the content has been adapted from Amazon, Goodreads, book copy, or other widely accessible sources.