Summer’s officially ending, which means several things: days are getting shorter, stores are already stocking holiday decorations(!), and kids are back in school. We may not be kids anymore, but there’s still time to expand your mind and learn something new. Below we’ve listed some incredibly thought-provoking and eye-opening books—both fiction and nonfiction—to help you do just that.
We are often taught that until Christopher Columbus arrived, the so-called New World was a vast, untapped wilderness. In this groundbreaking feat of research, you can learn how Native American tribes created large cities, had running water, and were more technologically advanced than previously thought. A brilliant and fascinating look at American history as never before.
For some Americans, THE GREAT GATSBY is simply a book they read in high school. But in this fresh, witty, and engaging evaluation, critic Maureen Corrigan analyzes the history and significance of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece. Compelling and passionate, this is a book for fans and those who want to become more familiar with the classic.
Books about death aren’t often witty or charming, but PLAYING DEAD isn’t an ordinary book about death. Elizabeth Greenwood conducts a lively investigation into how to fake one’s death in today’s modern, superconnected world. From consultants whose job it is to help you disappear to black market morgues, this is a captivating look at death fraud.
A brilliantly touching depiction of mental illness, this award-winning novel follows teenage Caden as he grapples with schizoaffective disorder. Straddling two worlds—his high school life and his belief that he is on a voyage to the deepest trench of the Pacific Ocean—Caden’s story is an unforgettable and compassionate one that will move readers of all ages.
A timely and invaluable exploration of the evolution of racism in America’s modern age of so-called colorblindness. From the Jim Crow laws of the Reconstruction era to today’s mass incarceration of black men, this is an expertly researched, deeply engaging, and profoundly important call to action in the United States.
Though the world seems to change every day, the study of geography has unfortunately been overlooked by many. Yet, as Harm de Blij effortlessly explains, it is geography that helps us fully comprehend our global interconnectedness. With engaging and stimulating prose, de Blijshows us how geography continues to influence the complicated events in our world.
Few writers are as talented at making science as emotional, evocative, and alive as Siddhartha Mukherjee. In THE GENE, he explores how our understanding of heredity has developed over time. From Aristotle to the tragic eugenics movement and beyond, Mukherjee helps us understand our own humanity through the beauty of science.
Discover the inspiring story of Harvard’s female calculators. Hired to make sense of their male counterparts’ telescopic observations, these women soon used their knowledge of photography to study the cosmos themselves. Starring a compelling group of women, THE GLASS UNIVERSE demonstrates the vital role played by women in helping us understand our place in the universe.
In the mid-nineteenth century, the Harvard College Observatory began employing women as "human computers" to interpret the stellar observations made by their male counterparts. The “glass universe” that the group amassed over the following decades enabled the women to make extraordinary discoveries, and change the face of astronomy forever.
Who knew that trails surround and influence us constantly? From the superhighway of the Internet to the winding paths across and between countries, Robert Moor effortlessly draws connections between humanity and the trails we blaze. An outstandingly insightful book that will help you reevaluate the journey of life, ON TRAILS is both passionate and enlightening.
For the outdoorsy type
From tiny ant trails to hiking paths that span continents, from interstate highways to the Internet, ON TRAILS explores how trails help us understand the world. Drawing on his own globe-trotting adventures and findings in science, history, philosophy, and nature writing, Robert Moor reveals how trails can shed new light on age-old questions about humanity.
A Pulitzer Prize winner, THE COMPLETE MAUS is a graphic novel unlike any other. Interwoven with an account of his own tense relationship with his father, Art Spiegelman crafts a haunting portrayal of his father’s survival during the Holocaust. This is a moving, complicated work of art and historical testimony.
From the time of Mohammed to today, DESTINY DISRUPTED challenges stereotypes, analyzes how our cultures evolved, and reveals an eye-opening view of global history through the Islamic perspective. Illuminating and expertly researched, this is a crucial book for people of all backgrounds.
You may think that a zombie book wouldn’t have much to teach you about humanity, but you’ve never read a zombie book like this. Enlightening and thoughtful, WORLD WAR Z explores multiple perspectives on the zombie apocalypse. Offering fresh perspectives on politics, greed, isolationism, and mass hysteria, this is a somber and moving novel for horror fans and non-fans alike.
Few men have had such a bloody effect on Africa as King Leopold II of Belgium. In this powerful book, discover how this royal brutally plundered the Congo and changed the course of African history. KING LEOPOLD’S GHOST is a vital story that reveals how the effects of colonialism are still being felt in Africa today.
As European powers scrambled for Africa in the 1880s, King Leopold II of Belgium seized the vast territory surrounding the Congo River. Carrying out a genocidal plundering, he looted its natural resources and brutalized its people—reducing its population by ten million souls—all the while cultivating his reputation as a great humanitarian.
A fascinating and clear-eyed exploration of the commercialization of feminism, this social critique compels us to understand how a political movement can be appropriated by capitalism. By analyzing Beyoncé as well as Planned Parenthood and everything in between, Andi Zeisler effortlessly demonstrates the relevance of feminism and how we can reclaim it.