Summer is here at last. And while these months might be associated with barbecues and beaches, there’s something to be said for spending a lazy afternoon with a good book. As a company of voracious readers (and an active book club), Team Tribal wanted to share the fiction and nonfiction books we’re reading this summer.
What’s on your To Be Read list?
Summer Fiction Picks
The Summer of Bitter and Sweet – Jen Ferguson
A Métis girl comes of age while investigating her family history of generational trauma, substance abuse, racism, and missing and murdered Indigenous women.
Lincoln in the Bardo – George Saunders
Set in the Civil War, this novel stars Abraham Lincoln and his dead son Willie, who is trapped in a purgatory where he and his father talk to the deceased about the nature of love and the transience of life. Named One of Paste’s Best Novels of the Decade, One of the Ten Best Books of the Year by The Washington Post, USA Today, Time, and NPR.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – Ocean Vuong
This lyrical novel from one of today’s top poets explores poverty, masculinity, addiction, and self-discovery as a gay man.
Project Hail Mary – Andy Weir
From the author of The Martian, this interstellar adventure features an astronaut who wakes up on a ship with a dead crew and a desperate mission to save humanity.
The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows – John Koenig
A unique book that defines emotions we’ve never been able to name until now. Nostalgic for a time you never lived in? That’s “anemoia.” Turning 40 and feeling like time keeps getting faster? That’s “zenosyne.” The unarticulated shadows of the human heart take form in a poetic lexicon.
Matrix – Lauren Groff
A French teenager deemed too wild for 12th century courtly life is sent to an impoverished abbey, where she taps into her creative power and leads her community of nuns out of starvation and suffering. One of President Obama’s Favorite Books of 2021 and a finalist for the 2021 National Book Award for Fiction.
Firekeeper’s Daughter – Angeline Boulley
This thriller about a Native student who roots out the corruption in her community using her unique knowledge of chemistry is being adapted as a Netflix series.
Ballad for Sophie – Filipe Melo and Juan Cavia
A beautiful graphic novel about an interview between a young journalist and an elderly famous pianist, leading to meditations on old rivalries, professional regrets, and the price of success.
Afterparties – Anthony Veasna So
A riveting short story collection about Cambodian-American life, these stories explore everything from school shootings to falling in love in Silicon Valley to surviving Khmer Rouge genocide.
A Snake Falls to Earth – Darcie Little Badger
Indigenous science fiction! This futuristic story about a Lipan Apache girl who confronts a catastrophic event on Earth blends contemporary Indigenous culture, fantasy, and science. It’s received the Newbury Honor, was named a Best of the Year by Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, and is currently on the National Book Awards longlist.
The Midnight Library – Matt Haig
In a metaphysical library suspended between life and death, each book offers a different alternative life you would have led by changing a regretted decision.
The Only Woman in the Room – Marie Benedict
She invented technology that helped defeat the Nazis and provided the foundation for WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth communication – but today she’s remembered only for her beauty. Fascinating historical novel about Hedy Lamarr’s escape from the Third Reich and her dual roles as scientist and Hollywood star.
Rites – Savannah Johnston
Johnston’s short story collection explores the lives of Indigenous people living in Oklahoma, with vignettes that cover family relationships, dating in the digital age, and burying a grandparent.
Summer Nonfiction Picks
Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty – Patrick Radden Keef
Called a member of “American’s modern Gilded Age,” the Sackler family built a fortune on Valium and lost their reputation on OxyContin. A National Book Critics Circle nominee and NYT bestseller, this saga covers their beginnings in the Great Depression, their boardroom and courtroom battles, their personal scandals, and their role in the opioid crisis.
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood – Trevor Noah
The Daily Show host offers a memoir about growing up during the twilight of South African apartheid, from surviving an attempted kidnaping to dating in high school to his mother’s shooting. Hilarious, disturbing, and inspiring.
Poet Warrior – Joy Harjo
Our first Native U.S. poet laureate, Harjo’s follow-up to Crazy Brave shares essays on her ancestors, the theft of her ancestral homeland, her relationship with nature, and the literary and Tribal influences that shaped her poetry.
Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Indians But Were Afraid to Ask – Anton Treuer
The most recent addition to our book club, this book answers questions about Native American terminology, religion, history, holidays, and … well, everything you always wanted to know. We hosted a live AMA (Ask Me Anything) after reading the book and it was an incredible hour for our team.
12 Bytes: How We Got Here. Where We Might Go Next. – Jeanette Winterson
One of the preeminent novelists of our time offers 12 essays exploring artificial intelligence, the impact of the digital age on our relationships, and a future where non-biological life forms become our instructors, healthcare providers, coworkers, and companions.
Letters to a Young Female Physician – Dr. Suzanne Koven
A physician reflects on her experience with sexism, “imposter syndrome,” pay inequity, and her residency in the AIDS era, as well as her advice to the next generation of female providers.
How to Train Your Mind – Chris Bailey
For each minute you spend meditating, you’ll earn back around nine minutes of productivity – or so this guide to meditation claims. A look at how meditation can de-stimulate your mind so you can think more clearly, procrastinate less, and be more effective.
Ghosts of the Tsunami – Richard Parry
A renowned journalist covers the disastrous earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in 2011, and the stories of the survivors – from incredible rescues to stories of hauntings to strategies for disaster prevention. Named One of the Best Books of the Year by The Guardian, NPR, GQ, The Economist, and Bookforum.
Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness – Ingrid Fetell Lee
TED star Lee shares a research-based blueprint for creating joy by making small changes that build extraordinary happiness.
A Wolf Called Romeo – Nick Jans
This riveting true story of a black wolf who befriended the dogs and people of an Alaskan town explores our relationship with animals and our place in nature.
The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred – Chanda Prescod-Weinstein
A leading young star theoretical physicist examines the night sky, the wisdom of Star Trek, and the wonders of the universe – and asks for a scientific landscape free of misogyny and racism. A Smithsonian Magazine Best Science Book of 2021, a finalist for the 2022 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award, and the 2021 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Science & Technology.
The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness – Meghan O’Rourke
This New York Times bestseller explores the rise of chronic illness and autoimmune diseases in America. Based on a decade of interviews with doctors, patients, and public health experts, the book examines the intersection between Western medicine and illnesses that defy traditional clinical frameworks.
The Nordic Theory of Everything – Anu Partanen
When a Finnish journalist moved to America, she was stunned by the complications of American life compared to Nordic countries. Here she offers insights and solutions on everything from childcare to taxes to healthcare to homelessness.
What are you reading this summer? Tell us in the comments!
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