Widgets Magazine

Five great reads for summer

Nothing says summer like the opportunity to lie in the sun and read a book of your own choosing. Before you ransack your local library trying to find good reading material, here are five great summer books to read.


1.“Cloud Atlas”by David Mitchell

A dizzying trip through six different stories in different times, “Cloud Atlas” is funny, sad and thought-provoking. Structured like a Russian folding doll, this book is initially disconcerting, but it is awe-inspiring when the author shows how all the stories are interconnected. Reading this book rewards determination and an eye for detail. Still confused at the end? See the solid movie adaptation. Only see the movie after you have read the book.


Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company.

Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company.

2. “A World Lit Only By Fire” by William Manchester

Who said history couldn’t be a blast? Manchester’s masterpiece is some of the most entertainingly written history you’ll encounter all year. In his writings about the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the renaissance and reformation, Manchester rivals “Games of Thrones” for scandal and action. Although the book’s historical accuracy is sometimes disputed, it is still a fascinating introduction to an age.


3. “How Few Remain by Harry Turtledove

What if the South won the Civil War? Although many books have been written on the subject, “How Few Remain” is one of the most impressive. Set during a fictional 1880s rematch between an independent Confederacy and United States, this book is entertaining because of its lively wit and thought-provoking meditations on how history could have turned out. The true genius of the book is that it follows specific historical characters (Samuel Clemens, Fredrick Douglass, Stonewall Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, George Custer, etc.) as they navigate this alternate reality.


4. “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller

“Catch-22” is one of the few classics that fully deserves that label. A darkly humorous story about American bomber pilots during World War Two, this book features superb characters and wild escapades. Besides being extremely entertaining, it gives readers plenty of material to think about and contemplate. It’s also perfect for summer reading because it is a classic that you can actually read in paperback edition.


  5. “Raise the Titanic” by Clive Cussler

Every summer reading list needs an intensely entertaining yet utterly brainless thriller, right? “Raise the Titanic” does a great job fulfilling both requirements. An addictive thriller about international conspiracies and underwater archeology (who knew they went together so well?), this rather far-fetched book still delivers a fun time and more action than Stanford’s offense in the last Big Game (or an awful lot, put otherwise). As its name suggests, the protagonist needs to raise the “Titanic.” Russian agents in the way? Bummer.


Contact Caleb Smith at caleb17 “at” stanford.edu.

About Caleb Smith

Caleb Smith '17 is a Desk Editor from Oakland, California and is majoring in public policy. Outside the Daily, Caleb is Director of news at KZSU Stanford, the campus radio station. Have a tip or suggestion? Please contact him at caleb17 ‘at’ stanford.edu.