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Best Reads for Summer

A person in a striped shirt laying in the grass with a blue, hardcover book blocking their face.

Southern New Hampshire University's faculty and staff shared their favorite books for the summer with a brief description of why they couldn't put them down. Whether you're into self-help, fiction, mystery or thrillers, there are over 30 books covering multiple genres for you to enjoy.

Paul LeBlanc

Paul LeBlanc

University President

"A Gentleman in Moscow" by Amor Towles

"Summer reading often means lighter reading. In that spirit, I highly recommend Amor Towles 'A Gentleman in Moscow', an excellent novel that sweeps through the decades and centers on a Russian aristocrat held in house arrest in one Moscow hotel, one of the most delightful first-person narrators and charming characters I’ve read in a long time. This is a book of substance in terms of its breadth and the weightiness of what happens in the backdrop, as well as stylistic execution – but it is a joy."

"Washington's Crossing" by David Hackett Fischer

"For history buffs, I just read David Hackett Fischer’s superb 'Washington’s Crossing'. The topic is Washington’s surprise crossing of the Delaware, made famous in the painting, and it upends everything you thought you knew about that huge gamble that saved the American Revolution during its darkest time. It is also about leadership, culture, political science, and much that is at the core of the American way of being."

"The Silence of the Girls" by Pat Barker

"Pat Barker’s 'The Silence of the Girls' is a retelling of the 'Iliad' through the lens of women and one enslaved Trojan queen, a novel that feels powerfully of the #MeToo movement and a reclaiming of the stories of those who are merely collateral damage and afterthoughts in so much of western literature, especially when its subjects are war, great men, and heroic deeds. Terrific."

Jeff Czarnec

Jeff Czarnec

Associate Dean of Social Sciences

"Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman

"The author does a fantastic job of discussing just how thinking occurs; the strengths and the deficits that either propel learning or diminish it. I have found it be quite useful for my faculty during various professional development sessions."

"Antifragile" by Nassim Taleb

"The author offers some extraordinarily enlightening information pertaining to the pitfalls that may occur during over-expansion and intervention. In the age of continuous growth, I highly recommend this to anyone involved in process development and design!"

Deanna Zanella

Deanna Zanella

Assistant VP of Ceremonies and Events

"21 Lessons for the 21st Century" by Yuval Noah Harari

"This is the next thought-provoking piece by Dr. Harari, who wrote 'Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind' and 'Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow'. I’d recommend reading all of them if you can. In '21 Lessons', Harari focuses on complex issues in a ‘post-truth’ world including education, artificial intelligence, big data, climate change, terrorism and religion, and much like in his other work, using historical, scientific and philosophical perspective. Regardless of whether you agree with his positions, he challenges you to expand your conversations and approach these topics with a mindful eye."

"Hey, Kiddo" by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

"In this moving graphic memoir, Krosoczka tells his childhood story through hauntingly beautiful, sometimes heartbreaking illustrations. The son of a mother struggling with addiction and an absent father, he found mentors in his teachers and artists and was able to use art to pave his path of self-discovery and healing. This book speaks to what so many children in our country experience today and the important role that educators can play in the lives of children outside of the classroom.

"FUN FACT: Krosoczka was a 2019 Commencement Speaker and received his honorary doctoral degree from SNHU!"

Mark Hobson

Mark Hobson

Senior Associate Dean of Business

"Big Potential" by Shawn Achor

"The book is a New York Times best-seller. His work based on research from Harvard, Yale and Oxford (shows that) human potential is influenced by the people who surround us. Praise and recognition is a never-ending resource and greatly influences potential and success. A great phrase of the work is that leaders need to be 'prisms of praise' and to sustain change, we must reward and reinforce people’s efforts to create change. The book is about recognizing our strengths to help overcome our weakness. An exercise I loved from the book is to journal about your future best self – write down your biggest dream of your future success – what will you have accomplished, who will you be with, what will you be doing, how will you feel, and how will you celebrate your success?"

"Happy Brain, Happy Life" by Dr. Wendy Suzuki

"The work cites her research in understanding neuroanatomy, how the brain learns and remembers, and how to increase memory capacity or neuroplasticity, through aerobic activity – a body and brain connection."

Bill Lightfoot

Bill Lightfoot

Dean of the School of Business

"Catalyst: Change Management and Transformation" by Dr. Julio Zelaya

"I am actually re-reading this excellent and inspiring 'business novel' by friend and colleague Julio Zelaya. Julio brings a very personal experience to the concepts presented in the book about change and transformation. It is very authentic and human!"

"Lincoln in the Bardo" by George Saunders

"I am also finishing this fascinating novel that provides fresh insight and perspective on one our greatest leaders - Abe Lincoln. This fictional story of one of Lincoln's most personally trying moments - the loss of son Willie - invokes the presence of ghosts and strangers to humanize our hero."

Leila Samii

Leila Samii

Associate Professor of Marketing

"The Alchemist" by Paulo Coehlo

"I read 'The Alchemist' on a train from Madrid to Barcelona the summer after graduating from college. It put life into perspective about following my dreams and never giving up on our life’s purpose."

"One Second Ahead" by Rasmus Hougaard

"Mindfulness is so important in today’s busy constantly connected world. 'One Second Ahead' provides tactics to implement in work to have a more mindful work life outside of meditation and living in the moment."

Stacee Reicherzer

Stacee Reicherzer

Faculty Lead of Counseling 

"The Color Purple" by Alice Walker

"Alice Walker’s book brings Celie’s story to life through a spellbinding, first-person narrative that helps frame Black feminism as a source of women’s survival of the laws and strictures of the Jim Crow South. It’s superbly written and yet short enough to serve as an easy read over a relaxing weekend; and a beautiful story of love between women that can and should be shared with someone special."

"On the Road" by Jack Kerouac

"Jack Kerouac’s narrative of hitchhiking across the U.S. during the late '40s-early '50s is at once a coming-of-age story and an indispensable account of Beat culture, complete with a vernacular that was unique to its time and setting and that held considerable influence on later counter-cultural movements. I love the work for its unapologetic embrace of the wanderer who exists within each of us, and for the courage that’s demonstrated in making a stand for one’s values of freedom, choice, art and movement."

Peggy Moriarty-Litz

Peggy Moriarty-Litz

Chief Nursing Administrator 

"The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life's Direction and Purpose" by Oprah Winfrey

"This book provides some inspirational stories about success and challenges encountered by people with a wide variety of backgrounds. The stories are short and easy to read. The message is simple - to find your passions and stay true to what you value. The book contains beautiful photos of nature and scenery to coordinate with the uplifting messages."

Shanita Williams

Shanita Williams

Assistant Vice President, Talent Engagement & Inclusion 

"Dare to Lead" by Brene Brown 

"I loved this book! I recommend it to those who want to lead others in a more meaningful and authentic way. Chapter 2 was my favorite because she discussed the greatest barrier to courageous leadership is not fear, but how we respond to our fear. It really challenged me to think about my fears and how I navigate them in times of stress, self-doubt and uncertainty."

"Everyday Bias" by Howard J. Ross 

"I truly enjoyed this book because it discussed the neuroscience of bias how important it influences our thoughts and behaviors towards others. It’s full of case studies and resources if you’d like to go deeper into this topic. If you want to understand how bias works and the impact it has on our decision making, this is the book for you!"

Willem Brooke-deBock

Willem Brooke-deBock

Senior Associate Dean of Healthcare Administration  

"Circe" by Madeline Miller 

"With nothing less than the sweeping Greek tale of Odysseus as a background, Madeline Miller focuses (on) and tells the tale of the woman/goddess of Circe, daughter of Helios. The author takes Circe, a relatively minor character ... and frames her story as grandly and epically as any mythological hero. A gripping, page-turning, feminist reframing of one of our foundational western cultural narratives."

"The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control" by Walter Mischel

"'The Marshmallow Test" was a famous psychological experiment first conducted at Stanford University in the 1960s by the author Walter Mischel. Young children were given the option of eating one marshmallow right away, or they could have two if they could wait 10 or 15 minutes. The results were fascinating and long reaching. For anyone interested in one of the components of grit and perseverance, this book is for you. Bonus: The audio version is read by none other than Alan Alda. How cool is that?"

Joan Smith

Joan Smith

Associate Dean of Liberal Arts, Creative Writing

"The Immortalists" by Chloe Benjamin

"I am always drawn to works that tackle big, unanswerable questions – and this one delivers on just that. Four siblings are foretold the date of their individual deaths, and the beautiful prose in this book follows their lives thereafter."

"The Opposite of Always" by Justin A. Reynolds

"This sweet, sharp, poignant and funny novel chronicles 'almost happily ever after' of Jack and Kate, two teens who meet at a party and fall in love over the course of a few months. The only problem is that Kate keeps dying, and Jack subsequently time-travels in loops, returning to their first meeting over and over again. What could go wrong?"

Amanda Seibel

Amanda Seibel

Assistant Director of Online Engagement Events & Communications

"The Dark Tower Series" by Stephen King

"When I saw this series of books was written by the same Stephen King that writes horror stories I was surprised and intrigued. These books consistent of multiple genres, but are primarily science fiction/fantasy. It also incorporates characters from his other books, which was very neat to discover as I moved from book to book. The books are beautifully written and really create a complex world that you get wrapped up in and cannot put down. If you are in for an emotional yet intellectual journey, give these books a try!"

Pete Davies

Peter Davies

Director of Product Marketing 

"The Overstory" by Richard Powers

"A big, sprawling novel covering a dozen characters and the trees that grow through their lives. Yes, trees bind these lives together, drive some to extreme actions, and help others find moments of grace. It’ll make you take a deeper look at the green world that predates us and outlives us."

"Fortune Smiles" by Adam Johnson

"A collection of wide-ranging stories that inhabit the lives of characters as disparate as a hurricane survivor, an East German prison warden and a North Korean defector. Many are darkly humorous and ask you to sympathize with people that you wouldn’t expect to be able to find sympathetic — but like most good fiction, these stories take you far outside your normal life and return you slightly tweaked." 

Josh Bresslin

Josh Bresslin

Admission Counselor III

"Making Nice" by Matt Sumell 

"This short-story collection runs a spectrum of emotions from laughter, to heartbreak, to shock with each tale in the life of a man name Alby. He is a modern Holden Caulfield that I cannot stop rooting for."

"The Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss

"No story has gotten my attention like 'The Name of the Wind.' It is a tale about a gifted orphan who goes to school to learn magic while trying to discover his family’s murderer. This is Harry Potter for adults. A dark tale with one of the wittiest characters in modern fiction."

Cathy Homiski

Cathy Homiski

Online Community Facilitator

"Dune" by Frank Herbert

"It’s based in the distant future where the survival of the human species is dependent upon a planet called Dune and a boy named Paul. I’m currently in the middle of reading it and I’m hooked!"

Elizabeth Richards

Elizabeth Richards

Director of Center for Community Engaged Learning

"So You Want to Talk About Race" by Ijeoma Oluo

"This summer I’m co-leading a Race and Equity Book Club with faculty, staff and students on campus. About 35 people are meeting weekly to discuss chapters in the book 'So You Want to Talk About Race' by Ijeoma Oluo. This book examines the role of racism in America and how we can address the systemic barriers in place for people of color, and it does it in really simple, accessible language. I highly recommend it!" 

Donna Dukeshire

Donna Dukeshire

Academic Advisor III

"Start With Why" by Simon Sinek

"This is a great book about leadership and how good leaders inspire those around them to take action. While it speaks about businesses and companies, it can be applied to a person's own life. If you get the chance, follow it up with his next book, 'Finding Your Why.' Another insightful book on personal leadership styles."

"Fly Away" by Kristin Hannah

"When I go to the beach or lake, I always like to bring some light reading and get lost in a story. I love Kristin Hannah's novels. She is a great storyteller. It's a story of friendship, promises, overcoming grief, love and family. I haven't gotten to the end of the story yet, but I will soon, I'm having a hard time putting it down."

Randy Plunkett

Randy Plunkett

Assistant VP of Military Initiatives 

"It's Your Ship" by Michael Abrashoff

"Excellent true story of a Navy ship’s captain who transformed his command into a team of innovative problem solvers who ‘own’ their situations."

"Setting the Table" by Danny Meyer

"A great book that explains how hospitality is not service and how businesses can be transformed by rewarding those who delight internal and external customers."

Audrey Bourque

Audrey Bourque

Director of Advancement Communications 

"No Happy Endings: A Memoir" by Nora McInerny 

"McInerny hosts one of my favorite podcasts: ‘Terrible, Thanks for Asking’ – a hilarious, heartfelt and often uncomfortable exploration of living through grief, or knowing someone who is living through grief. In 'No Happy Endings', she takes a deeper dive into the aftermath of a hellacious, unfathomable 6-week stretch in which she lost a pregnancy, her father and her husband – leaving her a young widow and a single mom to a toddler, trying to find her way through a sea of well-meaning inquiries as to whether she was okay, and, after a certain point, the crushing expectation that enough time had passed so the answer could only be ‘yes.’ McInerny finds humor and joy and even romantic love, but will never not hold the pain of losing her husband and the life that could have unfolded for them. She takes a fraught, incredibly messy topic and turns it into a conversation that is suddenly accessible and even funny. I think this is a great summer read."

Cait Glennen

Cait Glennen

Innovations Analysis

"Evicted" by Matthew Desmond

"I learned about this book because it made Obama’s list of best nonfiction reads, and it made the list for a good reason. The book takes you to Milwaukee and follows families that walk a tight wire between homelessness and barely sheltered. All of their journeys are different, and the book takes you on a ride of deep empathy and exploration of what inequality does to the citizens of our country. The book shifts towards a solution-focused narrative at the end in order to explore how ensuring shelter can change the face of poverty in the US."

Simone Davis

Simone Davis

Assistant Director of Career Services 

"Reflections on Happiness & Positivity" by Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum

"On a recent trip to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and India, I was able to visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque where there were inscribed messages of tolerance, positivity and acceptance. I was also very impressed with just how positive everyone I came in contact with was. On my trip home, I saw this book while waiting at the airport and had to pick up a copy. I was not disappointed as the author carefully outlined his philosophical take on happiness and positivity from a leadership purview, despite the challenges he faced. Each (piece of) advice was very applicable and relatable."

Anthony Siciliano

Anthony Siciliano

Assistant VP of General Education, FYE and Special Programs

"I'll Be Gone in the Dark" by Michelle McNamara

"'I'll Be Gone in the Dark' by Michelle McNamara is a true crime book about the ... case of the Golden State Killer in California in the 1970s and '80s. The twists and turns of these crimes are both terrifying and spellbinding. The case also made headlines recently as several breakthroughs were recently announced." 

Joanne Coffey is a content marketing assistant at Southern New Hampshire University. Follow her on LinkedIn.

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About Southern New Hampshire University

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SNHU is a nonprofit, accredited university with a mission to make high-quality education more accessible and affordable for everyone.

Founded in 1932, and online since 1995, we’ve helped countless students reach their goals with flexible, career-focused programs. Our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH is home to over 3,000 students, and we serve over 135,000 students online. Visit our about SNHU page to learn more about our mission, accreditations, leadership team, national recognitions and awards.