12 Books for Summer Reading – 2nd Annual List
Hello Archetype fans and welcome to mid-summer! By popular demand, here’s our second annual list of books for vacation reading. If your vacation is yet to occur or even if you are enjoying summer evenings, here is a mix of fiction, non-fiction and memoir. There is a book for everyone and a character or story that speaks to your inner archetype. First, discover what your Archetype may be with this sample free teaser quiz and then choose a book to match – or select more than one and see how your archetype relates to a different one.
Here we go – let’s dive into this pool of books:
Your primary gift is finding the silver lining in every cloud. You like to keep the peace.
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout – Lucy Barton has faced incredible physical and emotional abuse in her life. She is a writer who lives a plain, ordinary life and has recently been hospitalized. As the story begins she is visited by the mother she has not seen in many years. Through lots of flashbacks and conversations, we learn the reason why and the secrets of her dysfunctional family. The painful memories tell of Lucy’s enormous capacity for love and forgiveness. Lucy feels that the roots of her family “were twisted so tenaciously around one another’s hearts,” which helps her come to terms with her own sensitive and gentle nature.
You seek to create a sense of acceptance, belonging and justice.
A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power by Jimmy Carter – With a title this intimidating, you may wonder why I would suggest it as a vacation book. Some of the information can be startling, but the way the former President tells it demonstrates his desire to be fair and just in his evaluation of world problems and in the solutions he proposes. And, if you’ve ever wanted to find a cause that captured your best intentions but you didn’t know how to find one, President Carter has many suggestions for how you can help the plight of women and mothers around the world. At 91 he and Roslyn Carter are role models for global social justice.
Your unique gift is that you are willing to take risks that most people wouldn’t take to reach the finish line.
Neverhome by Laird Hunt — Sometimes when visiting the library or bookstore, I pick up slim volumes with a cover or a title that draws me to them, whether I’ve heard of the book or the author or not. This was one of those “finds.” It is an extraordinary story about a farmer’s wife who dons the uniform of a Union soldier, disguising herself as a man, changing her name to Ash and leaving her not-so-brave husband behind. She becomes a true war hero and faces nearly insurmountable horrors of war. Eventually, she makes the tortured journey back home to her husband never glorifying the necessity of what was needed to survive.
Compassionate, empathetic, making people a priority
Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks – This novel was inspired by the author’s chance visit to the village of Eyam, England, a place nearly obliterated by the 17th-century plague. The year 1666 was called “annus mirabilis” or year of wonders because of the way the villagers confronted and fought the dreadful disease, some managing to survive. Anna Frith, the fictitious heroine of the story, works diligently day and night to minister to the sick and dying even after her own husband and children have succumbed. She learns to use herbal remedies, healing where she can and minimizing suffering where she can’t. She even resolves family battles and leaves the evil witch-hunters in her wake.
One who loves adventure, freedom and the chance to learn by doing
In a Sun-Burned Country by Bill Bryson – Whether your travels are taking you to Australia this year or not, this book will appeal to everyone’s explorer heart. The combination of rugged Australia and Bryson’s humorous explorations of the most mundane and off-the-road places make this travel-log read like a novel. He recounts Australia’s swashbuckling history and the many possible deadly encounters with snakes, alligators, riptides and deserts served up by the land from coast to coast. It will dispel myths about the country and offer caution to even the most adventurous among you.
Following your heart and doing what you love
The Rain in Portugal: New Poems by Billy Collins – There are so many romantic “beach books” for this archetype but I decided to take a departure from the novel and offer a suggestion from the collections of one of my favorite poets. Billy Collins, a former US poet laureate, has written poems that read like a daily diet, nourishing the heart and soul with simple treats. He remembers a past love in “A Day in May” and he describes a palpable loneliness in “A Restaurant in Moscow”. If you love to travel to exotic places, beautiful objects and relationships you will sense them all through Collins’ poetry. And, for a complete experience, listen to Collins narrating his own poetry on the app SoundCloud.
Channeling frustration and dissatisfaction into constructive change
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee – Controversial from the get-go, this novel takes place two decades after the Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird. In this story, we see Scout as a 26-year old young adult who returns from New York City to her childhood home in Alabama to visit her aging father Atticus. With the backdrop of civil rights tensions roiling, Scout witnesses Atticus in a new, not-so-favorable light as he defends seemingly indefensible racial crimes. By the end of the book in a lengthy narrative, Scout’s uncle explains the evolution of racism and white hatred in the South in order to cast Atticus’ efforts in a more positive light. Some who have read it accept this explanation, some not. Scout’s true revolution is in understanding the roots of the racial problem and it makes this book worth a try.
One who can help others express or reinvent themselves
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – Many have read Eat, Pray, Love, Gilbert’s breakthrough memoir that always ironically seems to evoke feelings of love or hate. But it doesn’t matter to Gilbert because she believes that many of us have a personal story or a work of art within us that can be created and shared. Further, she says that someone else will share it if we don’t. And if you have ever read anything and said, “I could have written that!”, you will relate. Big Magic helps unleash the Creator in all of us and inspires action. If you read this at the beach, I see a box of paints or a notebook in your future.
Possessing strengths in leadership, authority and making things happen in an orderly fashion.
Ten Must Reads on Leadership, Harvard Business Review Press – This collection of leadership case studies and examples is a mainstay in the classes I teach at NYU. It can generate a discussion on almost any aspect of the processes and styles necessary to lead teams within organizations. The best part about this little-curated collection is that it can become a reference book for challenges in the moment and it can also lead you to many other “deeper dives” into books by the same authors.
One whose presence and ideas are transformative, catalytic or healing.
Transatlantic by Colum McCann – The author of this book is himself a magician. The very fact that he could weave together the tales of a famous former slave from pre-civil war America, pilots who flew the Atlantic from Newfoundland, and a statesman who helped to resolve an age-old religious conflict, all within the tiny country of Ireland, is a testament to his ability to both mesmerize and inspire. This is a beautiful story, based on historical facts, which will compel you to the very end and leave you breathless.
Those who believe “to know is to grow”
Quiet by Susan Cain – There probably hasn’t been a non-fiction book that has inspired me more recently than this well-researched exploration into the introvert personality. Cain, an introvert herself, who started her career as a consultant, describes the origins of extroversion in a Capitalist society; the intellect and attributes of the introverted personality; how introverts learn to adapt among extroverted peers; and the reasons to acknowledge the great potential within an introvert’s characteristic behavior. Reading this will be comforting to introverts and extroverts alike. If you like the book, I recommend following Susan Cain’s community Quiet Revolution on twitter @livequiet
One who can succeed in taking the pain out of out of life’s hardest moments.
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah – Arguably one of the most popular comedians on nighttime television, Noah has written a memoir about growing up and coming of age during the last years of apartheid South Africa. His Jester skills were honed during one of the most painful childhoods I’ve ever read about. The title is based on the fact that it was literally illegal to have an interracial marriage that bore mixed-race offspring during that time. In each of the vignettes about his childhood and teen years, we can’t help but shed tears from laughing over the humor he injects into every story.
So, readers, whether you are sitting by a pool, on a beach, in a plane, a train or an automobile (yes you can get all of these on Audible) or even in your own backyard – I wish you an enjoyable read.