It’s Officially Summer: What’s on Your Recreational Reading List?


For those of us in and around the law school, the close of the academic year is often a time to catch up on all of that recreational reading we’ve been wanting to do. Maybe your recreational reading is a non-fiction book on a topic you’ve been wanting to learn more about; maybe it’s a classic you’ve read before (or have always wanted to read); maybe it’s the newest fiction you plan on reading on the beach. Whatever your choice of a for-fun read, let’s start a list here.

After many, many months, I finally finished Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, a book I finished just to say that I finished it.

I will recommend, however, Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. I downloaded the full book to my Kindle quite by accident; I meant to download just the sample because I just wasn’t sure about it. But within just a few days, I had finished the entire book. The writing was engaging and lively, and although it was easy to figure out the connection between Fern (the sister) and Rosemary (the narrator), the “why” of it all kept me reading until the end. (See here for a book review.) Fowler also wrote The Jane Austen Book Club, a book that was not nearly as interesting or as lively as We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves.

A few of my favorite reads from last summer include all three of Stieg Larsson’s books: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest. (Read with care – the subject matter is graphic and can be disturbing.) And although I am not a Hemingway fan, I did enjoy The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.

This summer, I may make it through Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-first Century; it’s pretty thick, so I may end up being satisfied with reading the reviews. Also on my list are John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, and Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.

What are your recommendations for a summer read?

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Mark Fremgen

    I plan on reading Gone Girl as well; I started A Lesson Before Dying (Ernest Gaines), and have bought Flash Boys (Michael Lewis) and the Woodrow Wilson biography by Scott Berg. I also plan on reading Daniel Silva’s The Heist once it is published in mid-June.

  2. Irene Ten Cate

    Read Kazuo Ishiguro’s “Never Let Me Go.” It’s an easy read but will give you plenty to think about. If you don’t know the plot yet, it pays off to keep yourself in the dark.

    I’m intrigued by Karl Ove Knausgaard’s “My Struggle,” which seems to be quite a hit in Europe. But at six volumes, it’s quite a commitment (it could also become quite a distraction).

    If you want strictly non-law-related recommendations, don’t read further…

    Ok, so here are three recommendations that are law-related, but still recreational. The first two are accounts of the inner workings of the U.S. Supreme Court: Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong’s “The Brethern” (about the Burger Court) and Jeffrey Toobin’s “The Nine” (about the last few years of the Rehnquist Court). Both are especially recommended for students who have just taken Constitutional Law and for prospective 1Ls.

    My third recommendation is Thomas Healy’s “The Great Dissent,” about Justice Holmes’s dissenting opinion in Abrams. This is a great read for anybody who is interested in our free speech tradition or in Justice Holmes.

  3. A.J. Peterman

    Great post! I have four books on my list: Claire Keegan’s Walk the Blue Fields, William Trevor’s The Old Boys, Elizabeth Lev’s The Tigress of Forli: Renaissance Italy’s Most Courageous and Notorious Countess, Caterina Riario Sforza de’ Medici, and Noah Feldman’s Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR’s Great Supreme Court Justices.

    While these books are not as lengthy as Anna Karenina or Capital in the Twenty-first Century, they should certainly keep me occupied and entertained.

  4. Lisa A. Mazzie

    I second Irene’s recommendation of Ishiguro’s “Never Let Me Go.” It does leave you with much to think about.

  5. Julie Darnieder

    Having read & enjoyed “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves” I recommend you follow the book with the HBO Documentary, “Project Nim,” about the chimp that lived with humans and was the subject of research at Columbia University. And if you loved the Dragon Tattoo books, as I did, you might enjoy the “Bangkok 8” series by John Burdett, crime novels set in Bangkok. I really enjoyed “Gone Girl” and “The Goldfinch.” I am working my way through “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” finding it a good read.

  6. Melissa Greipp

    I’m hoping to read two history books–1492: The Year the World Began, by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto and The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, by David McCullough. I really enjoyed McCullough’s biography of John Adams.

    A few weeks ago I read a review of The Opposite of Loneliness, a posthumously published collection of essays and stories by Marina Keegan. Keegan died in a car crash a few days after graduating from college, but left this collection for the world to read. I would pair this book with something by Joan Didion like Slouching Towards Bethlehem. I like everything about the way Joan Didion puts words together. Didion says in “Why I Write”:

    By which I mean not a ‘good’ writer or a ‘bad’ writer but simply a writer, a person whose most absorbed and passionate hours are spent arranging words on pieces of paper. Had I been blessed with even limited access to my own mind there would have been no reason to write. I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. Why did the oil refineries around Carquinez Straits seem sinister to me in the summer of 1956? Why have the night lights in the bevatron burned in my mind for twenty years? What is going on in these pictures in my mind?

    Who wouldn’t want to spend a summer with Didion’s words?

  7. sean samis

    I have nothing as enlightening as others: I’m reading GoT to try to catch up to the series and the next installment of Alastair Reynolds’ sci fi series “Poseidon’s Children” named “Steel Rain”.

    sean s.

  8. Melissa Greipp

    I’m reading The Goldfinch right now, and I can’t put it down. I read it in every spare minute. It’s a long novel, but the pages float by effortlessly.

  9. Melissa Greipp

    Since it’s almost summer, here’s a good core list of books. I especially like number 1 on the list–Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

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