The Best Books We Read This Summer

Whether summer vacation finds you on a beach or caught in a whirlwind of planes, trains, and automobiles, opportunities abound for reading.
We’ve collected our faculty and staff’s favorite books of the summer, so the next time you find yourself in need of new material, you’ll have a few ideas at the ready!  

If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dussen [My daughter] Winnie loves this book! Anything Chris Van Dussen is a hit in our house! The story follows Jack, who has designed the ultimate fantasy car inspired by zeppelins, trains, Cadillacs, and old planes, with brilliant colors and lots of shiny chrome, Jack and his dad set off on the wildest test drive ever!
- Alexis Liston ’03, Dean of Community Life & Belonging  

I’m in the middle of a novel called Northern Spy by Flynn Berry about a BBC journalist whose sister participated in an IRA robbery of a convenience store. The journalist claims to know nothing about it, but the truth is more complicated than that. It’s beautifully written.
- Scribner Fauver P’09 ’12, World Languages Department Chair, French Teacher  

This is How They Tell Me the World Ends by Nicole Perlroth is not a light beach read, as you can tell from the title, but it is a powerful description of cyber-weapon development and the dangers such weapons cause. This riveting, thoroughly researched piece of nonfiction is impossible to put down.
- John Custer P’02 ’05, History Teacher  

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert I read this every other summer and it never loses potency. It’s the hard-hitting story of a woman who finds her own way in the world after being rejected from her family, set against the backdrop of the Second World War. I laughed. I cried. I got angry and I healed. This book takes you everywhere and, if you let it, changes your life.
- Jes Lessard, Associate Director of Marketing & Communications  

Here are a few of my recommendations: Where I Belong, Small Town to Great Big Sea by Alan Doyle (the lead singer of the band Great Big Sea records his memoir of growing up in a small fishing village in Newfoundland before taking on massive performance venues worldwide), Hatchet Island by Paul Doiron (a murder-mystery penned by a Maine native), and The Drowning Sea by Sarah Stewart Taylor (a mystery novel centered around a homicide detective who attempts to take a vacation and, needless to say, ends up working a case instead).
- Darrell Beaupré ’86, English and Art Teacher  

Just finished Colson Whitehead’s Harlem Shuffle. I would definitely recommend it – much different than Underground Railroad by the same author. It’s a story set in Harlem in the early 1960s about complex family issues, morality, race, and power. Ultimately, it’s a love letter to New York City.
- Deborah Springhorn P’17, English and History Teacher

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon. Orphaned by their mother’s death and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. The book is 700 pages long, but I wouldn’t cut a single page!
- Anonymous Employee  

My family just read The Vast Wonder of the WorldBiologist Ernest Everett Just. My kids were fascinated to read about this pioneering scientist and the time he spent right here at Kimball Union as a high school student. Just graduated from KUA in 1903 and this book for little readers opened opportunities to talk about many topics, including racial injustice, the importance of observing the world around us, marine life, and the value of education. Every time we walk past the EE Just Environmental Center on the quad, we can reflect on what we've learned. Anyone with young readers at home will benefit from adding this to their bookshelf.
- Tricia McKeon, Director of Marketing & Communications  

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is my favorite book of all time. Set in France in 1939, this story of two sisters faced with impossible decisions and heartbreaking circumstances celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the strength of women.  
- Carly Young, Assistant Director of Development, Student & Young Alumni Philanthropy   

I’m happy to share two books that I’ve read this summer. One is a pretty heavy hitter that was both epic and profoundly impactful: The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers. The other was a fun summer read by the author of The Martian, Andy Weir, called Project Hail Mary. It was a great thriller set, again, in outer space. Seems like it will make a great movie!
- Julie Haskell, Visual Art Teacher, Dean of Faculty  

I recommend Facing the Mountain by Daniel James Brown is a celebrated novel named one of NPR’s 2021 “Books We Love” and winner of the Christopher Award. It’s the story of four Japanese-American families and their sons during World War II.
- Sandy Bryant, Director of the KUA Fund  

I would like to recommend Contact by Carl Sagan. It inspired me to become an astrophysicist!  
- Inés Camacho, Science Teacher