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  • Špela Dolinšek & Emily Gravesteijn

Summertime - book recommendations!

Now that summer finally has arrived, we did not want to commence our holiday plans without providing you with some good book recommendations. Keep reading, because Spela, Shreya and Emily have some wonderful tips for you!


Spela's recommendations


Fiction

Battle Royale by Jay Rubin

What happens when a bunch of high school kids are forcefully sent on a deserted island in Japan, as part of the governmental program, and told that the only way out is to become the last man standing? Are they able to fight their urge for survival and work together, or will they turn on each other? Tale as old as time, but this reads differently. This witty, violent and addictive book follows the actors (students), as they progress through the game, day by day, heightening the tension. Each day, a new student takes on the storytelling role and the reader learns about their unique personalities, background stories, relationships, and motivations for survival. Sooner or later, you will find yourself having a list of kiss or kill yourself. At the end of each day, numbers of remaining students are presented, making the reader feel as if they’re part of the game. Is there a way for more than one student to make it out alive? And how would life look like afterwards? If you have some thoughts about the idea, I recommend Humankind: A Hopeful History by Ruther Bregman as a follow up!


Sanshiro by Natsume Soseki

This Japanese classic from 1908 follows the protagonist Sanshiro, as he starts his new life as a university student in Tokyo. Coming from a rural background, he struggles to find his place in the academic sphere and his naïve and simplistic outlook on life, makes him an easy target of a trickster, his friend Yojiro, who is always up to no good, but has a witty way of going about it. Sanshiro’s shy nature makes it hard for him to follow his romantic interest in Mineko. The timing is always off and as things are always left unsaid, their innocent love is doomed from the start. This book offers an interesting peek into relationships, academic sphere and academic tension with the western world in 20th century Japan and is a perfect, easy, summer read.


Nonfiction

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

I picked this one for its title. I didn’t expect much from it and was skeptical when I read that it was written by an iCarly and Sam & Cat child star of Nickleodeon. However, it turned out to be an excellent read. In this darkly comic memoire, Jennette writes about her experience as a child actress and her relationship with her abusive mom through the eyes of a naïve child. At first, she is convinced that her mother is perfect, despite repeated abuse. As she gets older, the reader can feel her cognitive dissonance and ultimately her rebellion starting to build up. Anyone who has struggled with abusive parents or had difficulties with separation will find a piece of themselves in this book. I would say this is one of the best memoirs I’ve read so far. I’m considering getting an audio book for my long drive to the sea side.



Shreya's recommendations


Fiction

Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo

Think Animal Farm by George Orwell. Now add more satire and wit. That is exactly what this revelation of a book does very well – a thrilling story of a goat (yes, a GOAT) aptly named Destiny who returns to the fictional African land of Jidada after the fall of its leader, Old Horse. What unfolds is a story filled with character, courage, and liberation. Personally, the book also took me back to summers as a child in India, reading Panchatantra (pronounced punch-tantra), i.e., moral tales based on animal characters. I am sure any readers would appreciate the book’s easy flowing text as much as its forceful ideas.


Non-fiction

Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard

Dr Simard, who is a Professor of Forest Ecology in Canada, wrote this excellent book that traces her research on the inner lives of trees with personal anecdotes sprinkled throughout the text. If you are looking to escape from the human condition this summer, I strongly recommend delving into the fascinating world of trees. The book describes the complex ways in which trees communicate with each other via underground connections – a humbling experience as we continue to lose touch with nature.


Poetry

Poetry Unbound: 50 Poems to Open Your World by Pádraig Ó. Tuama

This summer, I urge you to give poems a chance. Let this collection take over an afternoon in the park. Underline the phrases that stay with you; dog ear the pages that make you feel something. Maybe read a poem out loud and let the verse soothe you in a way children’s rhymes tend to do. And if listening is more your thing, there is a podcast where all you have to do, is give poems a chance.


Honourable mention

Pageboy by Elliot Page

There is no way I was going to leave out an autobiography I have anticipated since the announcement – a memoir so powerful that I had to stop reading it at times and sit with what had been said. Elliot Page (the actor from Juno) gives a gut-wrenching peek into the world of a queer and trans- person struggling to hear their own cries for help, and the joys of finding love in one’s body. I will be revisiting this book time and again, as a reminder that the pain of not being seen as one’s true self is universal, and only self-compassion can get us through it.



Emily's recommendations


Fiction

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

Captivating from the start, a very enjoyable read about the lives of three women. I liked the book because first, the storylines were very interesting, but secondly, Tadeo also succeeds in building truly layered and intriguing characters. Must read for the summer!


Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton

Dolly Alderton is – in my opinion – one of the funniest and wittiest women of our time. The book reads very well and Alderton is magnificent in showing us the duality of life: joy and sadness.


Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Albom’s memoir on his endearing relationship with his sociology professor Morrie. Tear-jerker this one, but lovely and beautifully written.


Enjoy reading this summer!

the ComCom team

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