2023 Summer’s Must Read List – New Ways of Thinking, Local Interest, and Award Winning TBR List

New Ways of Thinking

Summer reading, either during a vacation or just in the slower pace of late June and July, is a great time to explore new ideas and try on new ways of thinking. Dacher Keltner’s new book, Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life,  shows how seeing and experiencing new things transforms our brains and bodies. Probably, many of us organize our vacations around ‘awe’ – heading to the expanse of the ocean or majesty of the mountains – seeking the opposite of the ordinary to refresh our body and spirit. These are the themes Keltner promotes. Thinking about thinking is also behind Being You: A New Science of Consciousness by Anil Seth, a neuroscientist exploring the biological basis of consciousness. His proposal is that perception is a result of our brains’ predictions causing sensory signals – from the inside-out rather than our receiving physical signals from the external world. It is a powerful new idea for consideration. For a sneak peek try his 2017 TED talk which has been viewed more than 14 million times

Patrick Brinkley is thinking about awe and consciousness in his new memoir All the Beauty in the World: the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Me, another contemplation on awe-inspiring environments and their impact on the self. It is equal parts memoir and a portrait of the MMA and its treasures.

And, if trying on new ideas means deviating from the norm, then take some advice from Julia Keller and Quitting: A Life Strategy. So many smart people and good organizations take on new opportunities and challenges, failing to see the harm in an ever-expanding program or set of responsibilities. Keller argues that understanding the value of quitting is a key to success and accomplishment. Dan Pink is one of our favorite authors and observers. His latest book The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward, is filled with lessons from his global research – the types of regrets and the dominant ones that plague people throughout their lives.

Local Interest

It is fun to read authors we know and who are from the area where we live and work. This year’s Women’s Economic Development Network conference book was If You Could Live Anywhere by Blacksburg’s Melody Warnick. She writes from the perspective of digital nomads, taking the work-from-home model to extremes, but her book is good reading for economic developers wondering how to make their communities more attractive to the mobile and remote worker.

For those who enjoyed Factory Man and Dopesick by former Roanoke Times reporter Beth Macy, she offers potential solutions to the opioid crisis in Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice and the Future of America’s Overdose Crisis.  And if you are looking for more of an escape this summer, S. A. Cosby has his third novel coming out in a genre the critics are calling ‘Southern noir’. All the Sinners Bleed has familiar characters and places in Virginia and North Carolina with a story to keep you engaged.

Award-Winning TBR List

We are looking forward to a few we have not gotten to yet including Demon Copperhead by the beloved Barbara Kingsolver which just won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction this year. Her re-imagining of Dickins’ classic takes it from industrial London to southern Appalachia in the 1990s. The Pulitzer was shared this year with Trust by Herman Diaz, a family saga of the roaring 1920’s and the Great Depression which has been called ‘genre-bending’.  Finally, Pulitzer-winner Colson Whitehead is back in July with a sequel in Crook Manifesto, following his Harlem Shuffle characters into 1970s New York.

What are you reading this summer? Send us an email or a DM and tell us what is on your list for inspiring awe and trying on new ways of thinking!

Recommendations We Recommend!

New York Times Summer Reading 

Adam Grant: The 11 New Idea Books to Spring into Summer

Bill Gates’ top books, TV shows, and music for summer 2023: ‘There’s more to life than reading’ 

The Wall St Journal-The Best in Summer Reading 

WIRED-The 7 Books You Need to Read This Spring and Summer 

Literary Hub-25 Nonfiction Books You Need to Read This Summer  

NPR-Here are 19 books our critics are excited for this summer

Goodreads-Readers’ 54 Most Anticipated Books of Summer

13 Psychology Books to Read This Summer to Understand Humans Way Better

Crystal and Penny discuss their summer reading lists.

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