Stanford magazine suggests what to read this summer

(Courtesy Stanford Magazine)

Stanford magazine asked faculty and its own books editor for recommendations for the best books to entertain, inspire and inform during precious breaks from work, not-so-glam staycations and socially distant trips to the beach.

JAMIL ZAKI, associate professor of psychology: A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster by Rebecca Solnit. “We often imagine that during disasters, people panic and look out only for themselves. More often, the opposite is true. By plumbing the historical records around earthquakes, bombings and hurricanes, Solnit demonstrates that disasters bring people together and inspire them to help one another. The punchline is simple and evocative: Our worst moments can bring out the best of humanity and in fact be a reminder of the kindness that resides at our core. I can’t think of a more relevant book to this moment of global shared struggle.”

ELIZABETH COBBS, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution: The Sellout by Paul Beatty. “A fantastic book and first American winner of the Booker Prize. I read the book for pure enjoyment and found it to be one of the most interesting, delightful and hilarious novels I’ve ever come across. As a twofer, it is also a wickedly balanced and insightful look into modern race relations in Southern California.”

MARGARET NEALE, professor emerita of management: The Humans by Matt Haig. “It is a story about an extraterrestrial being who takes the form of a mathematics professor who has just made a discovery that threatens the universe. The book reflects his experiences figuring out how to be human and trying to understand our rather crazy culture, family units, pets and social mores. Of course, as he experiences all the messiness that is humanity, he finds both beauty and joy in humans’ imperfection.”

Read the full list of recommendations on the Stanford magazine website