Top Summer Reads

Books aren't just great for escaping reality. At NYU Abu Dhabi, non-required summer reading is an opportunity to stay indoors and escape the scorching heat.

To honor the UAE Year of Reading and inspire you to binge on books instead of Netflix, NYUAD library staff are pleased to share some of their favorite summertime reads.

Picks by Beth Daniel Lindsay, access and public services librarian

1. A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen by Molly Wizenberg

By the author of the blog "Orangette," this is a combination memoir and cookbook. It has the best recipe for French toast I've found. After her father dies, Molly goes to Paris ostensibly to work on her dissertation, but instead realizes that she's less and less interested in her studies and instead in cooking and writing. Over the course of the book, she meets the man who becomes her husband and business partner.

2. Bossypants by Tina Fey

I love, love, love this mostly-funny memoir and plan to read it again this summer. Tina Fey pulls back the curtain on the creation of production of 30 Rock, for my money one of the best shows on television, becoming a mother, and her Sarah Palin impression. Her advice for working women is both good and funny. My favorite: "Cry sparingly. (Some people say “Never let them see you cry.” I say, if you’re so mad you could just cry, then cry. It terrifies everyone.")

3. Hitch-22 by Christopher Hitchens

Hitchens was one of the great essayists in recent memory. His memoir tells his story, from childhood in various postings due to his father's Navy career, boarding schools in the UK and adulthood spent around the world, although mostly in the US and UK. It is a long read at 450 pages, but it is easy to stop and start as time allows. It is a bit heavy on name dropping, but includes recommended readings and writers which I enjoy.

4. Fiction Fates and Furies: A Novel by Lauren Groff

This book won many awards and accolades and was President Obama's favorite book of 2015. It tells the story of two former actors, Lotto and Mathilde, their marriage and secrets. One review from review said: "Sometimes it’s what you don’t say...that makes a marriage hum. (Until it doesn’t.)"

5. Hateship, Friendship, Loveship, Courtship, Marriage by Alice Munro

Munro is an excellent storyteller. Two from this collection have been adapted into movies ("Away from Her" and "Hateship Loveship). As always, I recommend the book over the movie any day. I am about half-way through this book and while the stories are set in rural Canada, they have a kind of "everyman" (or woman, as the case may be) aspect to them that make them feel like they could have happened anywhere. Monroe's characters are fully developed and the stories are complex, even though you can easily finish a story in one sitting.

6. The Bamboo Stalk by Saud Alsanousi

I'll be leading a discussion of the common reader this year and so while I "have" to read this, I am very much looking forward to the tale of a Filipino-Kuwaiti young man who returns to Kuwait, his birthplace, as an adult after he and his Filipina mother were abandoned/sent away by his Kuwaiti father when he was only a baby.

Picks by Ginny Danielson, library director

1. The Redeemer by Jo Nesbø

Jo Nesbø’s mysteries tend to be a little dark. This one – one of my favorites in the series featuring the detective Harry Hole – is actually uplifting. In the course of solving the crime, Oslo investigator Hole helps a Croatian community.

2. Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill

I have fallen in love with the eccentric and unexpectedly spiritual aging Laotian coroner, Dr. Siri Paiboun, his unconventional staff, his wife, and his best friend, all of whom typically contribute to the resolution of the mysteries at which he finds himself in the center. In Thirty-Three Teeth, Paiboun discovers his spiritual self. All of the books in the series combine good stories with humor and wonderful characterization.

3. A Delicate Truth by John Le Carré

I found that LeCarre’s books fell off a bit after the George Smiley series; however, A Delicate Truth is wonderful. It take up the theme of hired mercenaries in the employ of governments and features a surprising ending.

4. The Thing About Thugs by Tabish Khair

One of my favorite novels of the past ten years. Khair writes a Dickensian story that incorporates Indians in 19th century London and uses as a springboard the author’s grandfather’s personal library. A fabulous book.

5. The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing by Tarquin Hall

I cannot wait for Hall’s next book featuring detective Vish Puri, his associates, wife and mother. These books feature Indian English dialect, hilarious renderings of community and family life, and mysteries that devolve upon serious social issues. Any one of the books is wonderful entertainment. I started with this one.

6. NW by Zadie Smith

Anything by Zadie Smith is worth reading for its humor alongside commentary on the 21st century world. This book tells the story of four London urbanites from the same neighborhood, trying to make their ways out of the council flats in which they were raised.

7. The Polish Officer by Alan Furst

This book is my favorite among Furst’s excellent series that tells stories from World War II from the ground level. This one takes as its point of departure a loyal Polish officer tasked with moving the country’s gold out of Poland in advance of the Nazi invasion. As with all of Furst’s work, the narrative is intensely human.

Picks by Justin Parrott, technical and research services librarian

1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Stephen Covey has distilled generations of wisdom into seven simple habits that can lead us to success. These habits are based upon universal principles in the sense that they can be applied within any religious or philosophical tradition. Readers who apply these habits, or even a few of them, will notice improvements in their work and personal life.

2. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart Tolle provides us with an interesting look at the mind and its relationship to the self or ego. Drawing upon spiritual concepts in major religions, Tolle distills these insights into a model of mindfulness that can help people alleviate the pitfalls of obsessive negative thinking. Although Tolle is clearly influenced by religion, his explanations are simple and secular enough to be understood and applied across many religious and philosophical orientations.

3. The Joy of Living by Yongey Mingyur

Yongey Mingyur has written a synthesis of science and spirituality that also serves as a primer on Buddhist practice and thought. Mingyur combines his correspondence with neuroscientists and his experience with ancient Buddhist teachings to offer a fresh look at the way science and spirituality complement each other. Readers will learn practical advice for becoming a happier and healthier person, while also being introduced to one of the great world religions.

4. Stop Thinking & Start Living by Richard Carlson

This book is one of the simplest and easily accessible explanations of the effects of thinking, positive or negative. Many people who suffer from depression or anxiety do not realize that their compulsive runaway thoughts are the root cause of their discomfort. Richard Carlson draws upon his extensive experience as a therapeutic practitioner to help us understand how we can take control of our minds instead of being controlled by them.

5. Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins

This is a rather large work with a number of practical tips for achieving optimum performance in work and personal life. From health, to mind, to finances, Tony Robbins has brought together a wealth of experience to help us utilize the untapped power within us. Not every suggestion will work for everyone, but readers are sure to find something valuable they can take away.