Summer Reads

Are you looking for a great summer read? Students wile away their summer days at camps, the beach and the pool, but they also have required books to read as they prepare for the next school year. Parents, don’t feel left out! Consider these suggestions from the ESK faculty and staff for your “adult summer reading.”


Recommended by Beth Sterchi:

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France. One of the best books I’ve ever read!

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See is about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch is a strangely addictive coming of age novel.  The way love and art is woven into the story is both brilliant and heart-breaking.  

Recommended by Amanda Sharpe:

The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa

Llosa re-creates the moments leading up to the death of Dominican dictator Trujillo by crafting three compelling story lines: from the perspective of the monstrous leader, through the eyes of Urania – the daughter of an ousted senator in the Trujillo regime – and from the viewpoints of the men who ultimately murder their vile leader.  A disturbing historical look into how Trujillo operated and the myths surrounding his personal character.

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

A memoir of Hemingway’s time spent in Paris that captures the spirit of the city, commenting on what it is like to pursue writing as a career and speaking of his relationship with his then wife, Hadley. He also details meeting other famous artists and writers of the time, including James Joyce and Ezra Pound.

I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron

Written by the screenwriter of Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, and Julie and Julia.  Funny, heartfelt, and wise, this is a great read for summer.

Recommended by Sam Gleason:

Wolf Hall by Hilary Martel:

This historical novel focuses on Thomas Cromwell, who serves as Cardinal Wolsey’s right hand man. Henry VIII wishes to divorce Katherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn.  Martel’s writing allows you access to Cromwell’s inner-most thoughts as he finds himself swept up in the struggle between Henry, Anne, and the Church.  This book should inspire you to look more into Tudor history–an area I knew very little about before hand. There’s a fantastic mini-series on Amazon Prime based on the book starring Mark Rylance and Damian Lewis. (Recommendation: I highly recommend reading this as you listen to the John Dowland channel on Pandora. Good Renaissance background music.)

Death of an Empire: The Rise and Murderous Fall of Salem, America’s Richest City by Robert Booth:

Most people only recognize the name Salem from its associations with the witch trials, but Booth gives you an insight on this major port city of early America.  Everything from America’s first millionaire to some wonderful murder mysteries is in this book. This is an easy and interesting history book to take up this summer. (Recommendation: After finishing the book make your travel plans to Salem for Halloween! The town swells to almost 3x its normal population because Halloween is a big deal there. Make your reservations early though.)

The Thoreau You Don’t Know by Robert Sullivan:

I’m still finishing this book, having recently started it. So far, it’s been filled with a lot facts that I didn’t know about Thoreau since he has become linked so closely with Walden. The book is a biography about Thoreau that de-mythologizes him as an American outdoorsman and shows him in context of his family, friends and New England heritage. Sullivan is an instructor at the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury (a favorite among students there) and his writing is very easy to connect with. A good beach read…especially on a beach in New England!

Recommended by Susan Lancaster:

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

A perfect summer read, full of lush description of the French countryside and cuisine, this book is about the proprietor of a “book apothecary.”  He prescribes and dispenses books based on customers’ inmost needs, not what they came in to buy. It is a tale of travel, of memory, and of books.  As the protagonist journeys, he recommends books to other characters.  These recommendations become a worthwhile reading list as well.  An added bonus: Nina George’s website has an online book apothecary where you can answer a few questions and receive your own “prescription.”


A Man Called Ove by Frederick Backman–

This charming novel follows the later years (and younger years in flashbacks) of a true curmudgeon.  He glories in his misanthropic ways as he stalks his neighborhood, admonishing folks who park in verboten places and let their animals relieve themselves on other neighbors’ yards.  This book made me laugh and cry; in fact, I was reading it on a flight and laughed so hard that I inadvertently woke up the sleeping passenger next to me!  By the end of the book, you will have fallen in love with Ove.

The Once and Future King by T. H. White–

A “doorstop” book weighing in at 639 pages, this magnum opus chronicles the youth and ultimate kingship of Arthur.  I read this book decades ago, and I still read passages occasionally for its charming anachronisms, and reminders that even heroes can rise above their flaws to true nobility. It’s a book to get lost in, a book to help you time travel.  I hope you love it as much as I do.  I recommend a cup of Earl Grey tea  with a scone as an accompaniment.

Recommended by Miranda Clark:

Wolf Hollow, by Lauren Wolk, is this year’s Newbery winner. From the publisher: “Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount. Brilliantly crafted, Wolf Hollow is a haunting tale of America at a crossroads and a time when one girl’s resilience, strength, and compassion help to illuminate the darkest corners of our history.”

The Social Animal by David Brooks. From the publisher: “This is the story of how success happens, told through the lives of one composite American couple, Harold and Erica. Drawing on a wealth of current research from numerous disciplines, Brooks takes Harold and Erica from infancy to old age, illustrating a fundamental new understanding of human nature along the way: The unconscious mind, it turns out, is not a dark, vestigial place, but a creative one, where most of the brain’s work gets done.”

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.  From the publisher: “Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.”

Recommended by Lois Ross:

Long Man by Amy Greene.

I never thought about what it must have been like to watch waters rise and flood your land, your home and your town. Greene is from Morristown and the novel is part mystery, part history.  I love reading local authors and books set in Tennessee!

All of Liane Moriarty’s books:  The Husband’s Secret; Big Little Lies; The Hypnotist’s Story; What Alice Forgot; Truly, Madly, Guilty . They are just plain fun! The plots are brilliant, the characters are well developed and Moriarty has a great sense of humor. These would be addicting beach reads.

Recommended by Mary Lovely:

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherje: “The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies—a fascinating history of the gene and “a magisterial account of how human minds have laboriously, ingeniously picked apart what makes us tick.” (Amazon)

Life Is a Verb: 37 Days To Wake Up, Be Mindful, And Live Intentionally by Patti Digh- “In October 2003, Patti Digh’s stepfather was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died 37 days later. The timeframe made an impression on her. What emerged was a commitment to ask herself every morning: What would I be doing today if I had only 37 days left to live? The answers changed her life and led to this new kind of book. Part meditation, part how-to guide, part memoir, Life is a Verb is all heart.” (Amazon)

Recommended by Hannah Sewell:

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Americanah is about a woman’s journey from Nigeria to America to study during a time that Nigeria is under military dictatorship, the cultural differences she experiences and her journey to find true love. The book is culturally accurate; by reading it you gain new perspectives on race and culture, all while following her love life. I highly recommend it! Such a good read.

The Shining by Stephen King: Everyone has seen the movie, but the book is so much better.  I think King’s writing style is very easy to follow. Although the novel is long, it follows a family’s journey to a haunted hotel. It is definitely a page turner!

Have a great, book-filled summer!