With a long weekend looming and vacations starting, the annual summer reading lists have begun to appear. We thought it would be fun to share what IDRI employees are reading this summer — you might be surprised!
Ayesha Misquith just finished reading Still Alice by Lisa Genova, which portrays an accomplished female professor who realizes she has early onset Alzheimer’s disease, which is a devastating diagnosis as this form of Alzheimer’s (under the age of 65) is more aggressive and rapidly progressing than the older onsets. “It resonates with the work we do at IDRI, to be able to accurately diagnose a disease and the race to find a cure for it,” said Ayesha, who also recommended checking out this list in Nature for popular “lab lit” summer reading.
With two little ones at home, Jessica Cohen is skimming through books — including Brain Rules for Baby by Dr. John Medina and Positive Discipline by Dr. Jane Nelsen — about babies and preschoolers and what scientists have learned about baby development, parenting and sleeps.
Randy Howard has lots of insight to share: “Permanent Present Tense by Suzanne Corkin is very interesting examination of different aspects of memory and follows the experimental investigation of subject Henry M. (The hippocampus is important!) The Bone Tree by Greg Iles is a great drama/mystery read, a follow up to Iles’ Natchez Burning, which was also really well written with interesting characters set in Natchez, Mississippi and surroundings (warning: there is racial violence depicted in the books that may turn some readers off). The Windup Girl by Bacigalupi is a book I’ve just started, set in Thailand in the future; it is a little strange so far with trying to understand the characters, the setting (time and geography), and society. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is a really well written book. I’m about half-way through this, and can see why it is on the best seller list. Tom Ashbrook had a whole hour with Doerr on a recent radio show. I couldn’t get involved with The Familiar by Mark Danielewski, described as an atypical book (it sure is) and the first in a series of books by him. And, finally, you’ve got to read The Martian by Andy Weir.”
Lisa McNeil echoes Randy’s recommendation of The Martian, calling it “a fabulously geeky book with a hefty dose of cynicism and humor.”
Douglas Joerss is currently (re) reading Eleni by Nicholas Gage, an investigation into Gage’s mother’s unjust execution for organizing her children’s escape from a village in northern Greece during the second World War and the simultaneous Greek Civil War. Gage retells the story of his childhood and offers insight into rural, primitive Greek culture, the devotion of Greek motherhood, and the tragedies that befell Greece at the hands of Axis occupation and civil war. The account is triumphant, infuriating, informative and heartbreaking, says Douglas.
A native of England, Tanya Parish says she’s reading Mother London by Michael Moorcock. A fictional story set across a large timescale, the book deals with the history and spirit of London as viewed from the perspective of its inhabitants, both in snippets of individual voices and in the lives of its three main protagonists. “It makes me feel homesick for London and its variety and history,” she said.
IDRI summer intern Brandon Paris, a student at Whitman College, is reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. “This has been a multi-year endeavor because the novel is 1000+ pages of dense writing, but every so often, after you’ve trudged through some boring prose, Wallace throws some humor at you that you’ve never seen before and makes you remember why you started the novel in the first place,” Brandon said.
Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia by Peter Pomerantsev is recommended by Rob Lin. It’s an Amazon Best Book of the Month from November 2014, taking a look at contemporary Russia through stories told by Pomerantsev, a former reality TV producer for one of Russia’s top television networks, who uses tales of media corruption to illustrate the culture of today’s Russia.
Natasha Dubois is reading Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey. Her take on the book: “I haven’t read a lot of ‘western American’ literature, so it is very new for me, but I love it. The characters are deep and engaging and the story so gripping that I can hear the trees falling as the plot takes shape.”
Chris Antony reports he’s reading two books: Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley and Henry Lodge, as well as China’s Second Continent by Howard S. French.
Happy summer reading from IDRI to you!