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11 Recommendations for Summer Reading 2024 from SNHU Staff

A woman with blonde hair in a pink shirt sitting in a yellow chair reading a book in the summer

Summer has arrived, and so have these 11 book recommendations from Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) staff for you to dive into, whether you are enjoying the outdoors or relaxing at home.

If you're looking to try something new or stick to your favorite type of book, these recommendations include various genres, so you're sure to find a book you'll enjoy.

"Jewels: A Secret History" by Victoria Finlay

Maurah Matyas, an academic advisor at SNHU, holding a book

This book sparked my interest in the microhistory genre. Finlay follows the history of 10 different jewels, focusing on how they are obtained, why and how they became so valued, the effects their trade had on civilizations and cities, and their importance today.

Each chapter focuses on one jewel and her travels to learn about them firsthand, from amber in Kaliningrad, opals in Australia, Peridot in Arizona, rubies in Burma, sapphires in Sri Lanka, emeralds in Egypt and more.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in history, geology, geography, art, travel and fashion! – Maurah Matyas, academic advisor

"Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Christian Renzi, senior content creator video editor at SNHU, holding a book

I read this book last summer and highly recommend it as one of your summer reads.

It gives a great, in-depth look at Lincoln's cabinet during the Civil War. Three of the men had previously been his political rivals, running against him in the 1860 election. It is a fascinating example of political rivals working together to lead America through its biggest crises. – Christian Renzi, senior content creator video editor


"Twenty-One Boxes: Robin’s Story and the Tragedy of the Edenton Seven" by Betsy Hester

Brittany Armstead, an academic advisor at SNHU, holding a book

This book was written by my high school English teacher, Mrs. Betsy Hester. She's been working on this book since I was born in the 80s, and she finally finished it this year. I am so proud of her.

I am recommending it as a summer read because if you are a fan of true crime, this is a true crime that happened in my husband's hometown that will blow your mind and take you back to the days of the Salem witch trials. She taught us "The Crucible" by Arthur Miller, and she puts quotes from the play in this book. – Brittany Armstead, academic advisor

“The Glass Château” by Stephen P. Kiernan

Karin L. Heffernan, campus faculty librarian and associate professor at SNHU, holding a book

“The Glass Château” is a riveting tale of Asher, a young Jewish man in France on the heels of WWII.

Scarred by his unwilling participation as an assassin in the war, he finds himself lost seeking a life at the war’s end when he stumbles upon a castle occupied by a motley group of survivors learning to make stained glass windows to replace those shattered by bombs in churches across Europe.

In a deeply divided country, he must hide his heritage even when in the arms of Marie, as everyone is both victim and perpetrator. The rich characters and context make the book enthralling and keep you thinking long afterwards. – Karin L. Heffernan, campus faculty librarian and associate professor

"Never Lie" by Frieda McFadden

Graciela Gutierrez, an academic advisor at SNHU, holding a book

This book starts with many questions you have no answers to. You start to create your own theories, just when you think you have figured out the plot... you haven't!

You start to get answers towards the middle of the book, but as you think you have figured it out again, guess again! The ending was one that I did not expect. Freida is a queen on plot twist; I did not anticipate any of it.

If you are into psychological thrillers, this is a good and fast read. “I believe that any human being is capable of terrible things if you push them hard enough”- Freida McFadden. – Graciela Gutierrez, academic advisor

"Night Film" by Marisha Pessl

Betty James, an academic advisor at SNHU, holding a book

Gripping and fast-paced, this mystery totally enthralled me from the first page. The author is so skilled at dropping you right in the middle of the action, and the amount of detail is well-balanced and introduced piece by piece, which helps to keep you engaged all the way through.

Full of intriguing characters and bizarre horror film references, "Night Film" is the best fiction I’ve read in a long time! – Betty James, academic advisor


"Powerless" by Lauren Roberts

Alexa Gustavsen, content facilitator at SNHU, holding a book

Nothing is better than feeling like you can't put a book down; this is precisely how I felt while reading "Powerless." Young street thief Paedyn is trying her best to survive in the slums as an Ordinary devoid of power within a world surrounded by a powerful elite society.

When she finds herself thrown into a trial of games to survive against the kingdom's most powerful, it leads to a fight for her life and a forbidden romance with Kai, one of the most powerful assassins and a prince in the kingdom of Ilya.

This is a story full of romance, tension, suspense and action that left me wanting more with each page turn. Book two comes out in the summer of 2024, and I cannot wait any longer. Alexa Gustavsen, content facilitator

"This is Why They Hate Us" by Aaron H. Aceves

Chrishel Smith, an academic advisor at SNHU, holding a book

This book is a hilarious coming-of-age story that centers around Quique, a senior in high school who is struggling with his feelings for his best friend. To get over him, he decides to look into other romantic prospects, but not being fully out as bisexual presents its own troubles.

This book was a beautifully written story about the bisexual experience and how hard it can be to come out as a teenager while struggling with your own mental health and identity. It had me laughing and crying, all while keeping me on the edge of my seat.

There is excellent diversity and LGBTQIA+ representation in this book that gives different perspectives into growing up. I loved every moment of the ride while reading this one, and I hope you will, too. – Chrishel Smith, academic advisor

"The Situation Room" by George Stephanopoulos

Joseph Wellington, an academic advisor at SNHU, holding a book

As a historian and a person who served in the military during some of the events depicted, "The Situation Room" by George Stephanopoulos is an insightful and sometimes frightening look at how the inner workings of the White House occur.

Mr. Stephanopoulos has worked in the Situation Room as well as interview(ed) hundreds of participants and gain(ed) access to previously unavailable transcripts and sources, which offers a true look behind the scenes. – Joseph Wellington, academic advisor

“The Big Reveal: An Illustrated Manifesto of Drag” by Sasha Velour

Spencer Hensel, copy director at SNHU, holding a book

If you’re looking for a queer-themed book to celebrate Pride Month (and kick off summer reading), check out “The Big Reveal: An Illustrated Manifesto of Drag” by Sasha Velour. Velour is a visual artist, actor, producer and Season 9 winner of "RuPaul’s Drag Race." She once described drag as “the art form of the queer imagination,” and this book beautifully expands on that idea — with words, photographs, illustrations and a whole lot of heart.

There’s a deep love for narrative here that just jumps off the page. At one point, Velour says, "I’d be nowhere without my inspirations, without the people who give me context.” Whether she’s talking about her mother, grandparents, Josephine Baker or drag performers like Divine, there’s a deep sense she’s part of a much bigger story. She writes in a way where we, as readers, can’t help but feel like we’re part of it, too.

Thoughtful and informative, this book is a wonderful exploration of queerness, art and drag. 10 out of 10 would recommend. – Spencer Hensel, copy director

"Design for Belonging: How to Build Inclusion and Collaboration in Your Communities" by Susie Wise

Dr. Kendra Thomas, senior director of people experience and belonging at SNHU, holding a book

I’m recommending this book because I simply cannot stay out of it!

It is a book about belonging and how to be intentional about creating safe spaces. It shares insights from other belonging practitioners, and I am using some of the foundational pieces of belonging within my work at SNHU. – Dr. Kendra Thomas, senior director of People Experience and Belonging

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Kimberly Souza is an advertising and public relations student completing a content marketing assistant internship at Southern New Hampshire University.

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