A definitive ‘veg-out’ summer reading list

Isn’t it nice to be able to read something a professor didn’t assign?

You’ve had a tough school year. But it’s over, and you have a sweet couple of months before you have to think about coursework, papers, and exams again. It’s time for relaxation, parties, maybe a beach vacation – eight weeks of music in headphones, and no thought of academic stuff. Books may be the last thing you want to think about, but there really are some great reads that will not tax your brain and you will actually enjoy. Here’s a list with brief descriptions. You’ll find a few that will pique your interest. Go for them.

The Cuckoo’s Calling by J.K. Rowling (Robert Galbraith)

And you thought Rowling was only good for Harry Potter. Writing under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith, this is the first of a series featuring Detective Cormoran Strike, a disabled war veteran who has been contracted by a client to investigate the supposed suicide of his sister.

The Son by Philipp Meyer

If you like stories set in the old West, this one’s for you. It’s the story of Eli, captured by the Comanche’s in 1849 and the saga of his eventual freedom and determination to make something of himself in the new state of Texas. He is cunning, conniving and ruthless, but eventually builds an empire. The family saga is amazing.

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler

She writes like she acts. This is a book full of comedic yet inspirational stories, poetry, lists, and more. With chapters like, “Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend, “Talk to Yourself Like You’re Ninety,” and “Humping Justin Timberlake,” who can refuse this read?

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

For the science fiction buff, this is a world of the future that is not on Earth. In fact the Earth has been ruined by the destruction of the moon (cause: space junk), and some surviving pioneers have headed for parts unknown to preserve the human race. Their descendants, thousands of years later, develop an interest in a strange planet – Earth.

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

OK, so there is one book on the list that is historical non-fiction. What makes this book so cool is the detail about these two brothers everyone else laughed at for believing that humans could actually fly. For a history book, it’s pretty darned exciting. This is one of the top summer books for anyone who likes to see history through people rather than events.

All the Old Knivesby Olen Steinhauer

A six-year old terrorist hostage rescue is the subject of a luncheon meeting between two of the CIA agents, lovers at the time, at a luncheon reunion meeting. The rescue went horribly wrong and both are wondering how their agent on the inside was compromised. They may find out at a dinner that evening. Espionage at its finest, for those who enjoy spy thrillers.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

A psychological thriller that will probably remind you a bit of Gone girl, but not in terms of the plot. Rachel is a commuter who travels by train to and from London every day, always seeing the same happy family until one day things take a twist. Really nothing more can be said, because the reader will have to navigate through this page-turner without any more information.

Memory Man by David Baldacci

If you have ever read any of Baldacci’s books before, you understand what a great storyteller he is. And if you ever watched the TV series “Unforgettable,” you will have an idea of the challenges of someone who has a perfect memory. Amos Decker is the memory man – a police detective whose family is murdered. His “curse” of a perfect memory may be able to solve the case.

The Vacationers by Emma Straub

A two-week vacation for the Posts, celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary with their daughter, a recent high school graduate, along with extended family and friends, does not quite turn into the idyllic, restful respite from Manhattan that they all envisioned. Lots of old wounds opened, secrets exposed, and hidden natures of people weave into a funny, poignant, and at times, inspirational tale. It’s an easy read.

The Pines by Blake Crouch

Another thriller, this time in the form of a strange town to which Secret Service agent Ethan Burke has come to find a couple of federal agents who have gone missing. The town is weird and sinister. Burke is involved in a car accident and wakes up in the hospital with no ID or phone. Even when he attempts to use a local phone to call home, he is unable to. Enough said – read it yourself. It’ll keep you up at night.

It is nice to have a summer without a reading list that has been supplied by a teacher or professor, isn’t it? You can pick and choose based on your own preferences rather than the demands of someone else.

Georgia Tech