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20 Books That Will Breathe Life Into Your Summer

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What is there not to love about summer? Between summer Fridays, warm skies, and the promise of a beach or pool day, sometimes we wish this time was forever. But is it really the weather that we love or the leisure time? Whether you're taking a road trip or just looking for reassurance during the difficult 20-somethings, we have compiled 20 books that you have to read this summer. There is something for everyone so if you're into inspirational memoirs, political tales, stories of love and loss, and most importantly finding mindfulness in your everyday life, this list is for you!

1. Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

According to DoSomething approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and over 58% of college-aged women feel the pressure to be a certain size. Roxane Gay's memoir Hunger dives deep into her journey with food and self image and learning how to love herself again. This book is perfect because as we go into "summer body season" it is so important to love oneself. This book reminds us to take an introspective look at how we discuss weight and self image in society.

2. Weird in a World That’s Not: A Career Guide for Misfits, F*ckups, and Failures by Jennifer Romolini

In your 20-somethings you're either plagued by finding a job or stuck in a rut and looking for a way out. Romolini's honest guide dives deep about how she went from a broke, divorced, college dropout to running some of the top websites in the world. This book is perfect because it's not just a straightforward how-to career memoir. This book pulls from real life struggle and Romolini reminds us all that even when the odds are stacked against you, it is still possible to push through and go after what you want.

3. You are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero


If you were a fan of Jen Sincero's first novel You are a Badass then you are definitely going to love her follow up piece! This entertaining step by step on how to overcome fears that keep us out of financial success give us permission to make the money we want. Drawing from her own experience Sincero includes relatable anecdotes of a dry bank account and living off of Taco Bell. This novel filled with personal essays and concepts will inspire you take charge and become a badass when it comes to making money.

4. Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me by Janet Mock


Isn't your 20's all about finding your purpose and place in the world? Mock takes us on a journey that begins before her 20th birthday as she is adjusting to her new life as a first generation college student. As we follow Mock through her disadvantages in love, living away from home and life, we can relate to her dreams and drive. But also her story adds nuance as she builds a career in the magazine publishing world while being trans, a woman, and a person of color. This books shows us the girl before she became one of the most respected media figures and social justice advocates.

5. Dare to Be Kind by Lizzie Velasquez


YouTube personality and motivational speaker Lizzie Velasquez was born with a rare genetic condition and at the developmental age of 17 years old she ran across a viral video entitled "World's Ugliest Woman". Instead of letting the video discourage her, she now investigates the source of bullying and uses her platform to speak up for victims everywhere. In this inspirational book Lizzie talks about the forces that perpetuate self-hatred, shame and cruelty and forces us to look deeply to unlock empathy and kindness. This book forces us to come face to face with anxiety, disappointment and most importantly, finding the strength to overcome obstacles.

6. Kennedy and King: The President, the Pastor and the Battle over Civil Rights by Steven Levingston


The novel Kennedy and King goes back to 1960 and discusses the powerful impact that these great leaders had on one another. These two men, from different worlds, grew together in the fight for civil rights and ultimately a commitment to equality. As our country still grapples with the conversation of race relations and discrimination, this dense read is perfect for those history or social justice buffs looking to expand their scope of knowledge.

7. Boss Bitch: A Simple 12 Step Plan to Take Charge of Your Career by Nicole Lapin


According to bestselling author Nicole Lapin you don't need hundreds of employees to be a boss. All you need to do is channel your inner savvy and ambitious self and most importantly own it. In this book you will learn the steps needed to be the boss of you and learning to seize the power to believe in yourself.

8. Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West


Coming from a shy childhood where she struggled to hide her larger figure, to developing into an adult that goes head to head with stand-up comedians over rape jokes, Lindy West has become somewhat of an accidental activist. She turns her life stories into funny anecdotes while still being vulnerable with her readers. This novel is perfect for those that can relate to being silence but wanting to live a bold life.

9. The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs


Deemed "Most Anticipated Summer Reading Selection" by The Washington Post, Glamour, Vulture, InStyle and more The Bright Hour is a memoir about how to love and live with "death in the room". The direct descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nina Riggs just 37 is diagnosed with Breast Cancer. A year later the mother of two sons age seven and nine, and married to her best friend of sixteen years finds out the Cancer is terminal. As she explores motherhood, marriage, friendship, and the legacy of her great, great, great grandfather, most importantly Riggs grapples with the question: What makes a meaningful life when one has limited time?

10. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant


Best selling authors of Lean In and Originals, Sandberg and Grant come together to talk about finding joy after the sudden death of her husband. Combined with psychologist Adam Grant's eye-opening research on finding strength in the face of adversity, and Sandberg's personal insights, this novel is meant for those that don't have an Option A. This novel goes beyond the scope of loss to explore hardships including illness, job loss, sexual assault, natural disasters, and the violence of war and reveals how the human spirit can persevere and rediscover joy again.

11. The After Party by Anton Disclafani


Deemed "A vintage version of Gossip Girl meets bigger hair" by The Skimm, character Joan Fortier is the Belle of Texas glamour. Based in 1950's Houston, Joan is considered one of the most beautiful, independent woman and her escapades dominate the gossip columns. But the summer they are twenty-five her best friend since childhood Cece feels a responsibility to reel Joan's radical behavior back in. This thrilling novel gives a glimpse into the rich and beautiful time of the 50's.

12. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid


This breathtaking novel explores a country teetering on the brink of civil war but when Nadia and Saeed meet they embark on a passionate love affair. As the violence in the city escalates and they hear whispers of doors that whisk people away to other dimensions these two make a decision to leave their homeland and old lives behind.

13. Startup by Doree Shafrir

This entertaining story is about youth, ambition, love, money and of course the startup world. The novel follows Mack McAllister, whose mindfulness app TakeOff is about to flip into a billion dollar business. Katya Pasternack is an ambitious young journalist at a gossipy tech blog looking for a scoop to turn her into the go to writer in the industry. Sabrina Choe Blum, a mother of two, and failed creative writer is just trying to stay afloat. As we follow these three as they become entwined in a scandal, we begin to question technology's inability to crack human nature.

14. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't by Simon Sinek


In a world where your coworkers don't just show up to work every day inspired, this novel will help you develop into a great leader . With an extended chapter on leading millennials in the workplace this novel is perfect for those looking to step up and take on more responsibility.

15. Touch by Courtney Maum


In a world that puts so much importance on technology, Touch follows Sloane Jacobsen a powerful trend forecaster. Companies pay her to discuss where she sees global fashion, lifestyle, and tech companies in the future and she is the best of the best. But when her recent forecast shows that the world is overpopulated and she is tapped by a tech giant to head their annual conference, her professional reputation is at risk.

16. This Is Just My Face: Try Not To Stare by Gabourey Sidibe


Sidibe launched to fame when she played the leading role in Lee Daniel's movie Precious. But in this one of a kind story "Gabby" peels back the layers to let fans get to know the real her. Whether it's talking about living in Bedstuy with her polygamous father and gifted mother, or her first job as a phone sex "talker" this memoir dives deep into the topics of friendship, depression, fashion, race, weight and more. All the while resonating with readers that have felt different, or inspired to make their dreams happen.

17. 10 Minute Mindfulness: 71 Habits for Living in the Present Moment by S.J. Scott and Barrie Davenport


Hate negativity? Feeling stressed, and overwhelmed? Scott and Davenport break down the 71 habits that will help you love in the present moment! Even in this fast-paced society.

18. The Well Life by Briana and Dr. Peter Borten

No matter how much effort we put into Leaning In, in regards to our careers and life, it is so important to maintain a balanced sense of self. According to Briana and Dr. Peter Borten the secret is filling your life with three fundamental principles: sweetness, structure and space. If you're looking for a read that causes you to sit back and contemplate how you can implement balance in your life, even if your work/life structure is not aligned, this book is for you. It reminds us to create meaningful relationships, and add a bit of sweetness back in our lives!

19. The Leavers by Lisa Ko

If you're looking for a deep read while you're on the beach The Leavers is a beautifully written novel that dives deep into the examination of borders, belonging, and learning from the past. Told from the perspective of both Polly, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, and her son Deming Guo, we go through their journey as Guo struggles to assimilate to American culture. If you are looking for a political read that dives deep into social justice this is the book for you!

20. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman


Eleanor Oliphant struggles with social skills and lives an isolated life, devoid from social interactions. But everything changes when she meets the IT guy from her office Raymond. After they rescue Sammy, an older man that fell on a sidewalk, the three pull each other out of their mundane everyday lives. This soon to be produced motion picture by Reese Witherspoon follows Oliphant as Raymond's big heart helps her repair her damaged one.

Photo by Symphonie for Getty

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