The Daily Gamecock

Dive into these summer reads


Summer break is the perfect time to catch up on some self-indulgent reading. Now that classes and textbooks aren’t leaving our brains fried by the end of each day, we feel refreshed and ready to read for pleasure. Whether you are on the beach, cuddled up in your bed or stuck in the car for a road trip, these books are the perfect light reads for your time off.

For the thrill seeker: “The Dinner” by Herman Koch

Originally written in Dutch and translated to English by Sam Garrett, “The Dinner” is a cunning tale about two couples who seemingly meet for dinner just to catch up on one another’s lives, while much more is simmering below the surface. Both couples have sons who have conspired together in a heinous act, leaving both families shocked, confused and on the defense.

As their dinner progresses, more of these issues break the surface, chillingly depicting the ways that people hide what haunts them with clever, smiling disguises.

“The Dinner” is an astute, crafty story which leaves the readers on the edges of their seats. Along with an interesting plot, Koch makes an insightful statement on the way modern society tends to construct a veil before the world, masking their demons so they can always appear happy in their seemingly perfect lives.

For the self-inspired reader: “Gift from the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

When the name “Lindbergh” is mentioned, one often thinks of Charles Lindbergh and his successes in aviation, or perhaps the tragically famous Lindbergh baby kidnapping back in 1932. Rarely does one think of his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, although she was an inspiring and insightful woman in her own right.

Lindbergh accompanied and helped map out uncharted territory on many of her husband’s flights, and she was also the first woman in America to earn a glider pilot’s license. However, Lindbergh’s true passion was writing, and she led a successful career by publishing many books and winning many awards throughout her life.

“Gift from the Sea” was her most popular book, a memoir in which Lindbergh traveled to a small beach cottage in Florida to gain inspiration, reflect on her life and provide insight to her readers. Although this book is primarily written for women, men can find an appreciation for it as well. Each chapter ties a specific shell, such as the channeled whelk or argonauta, into a piece of advice that she has learned throughout her life. This short beach read is a testament to the intelligence and resilience of a woman who was often left behind in her husband's shadow.

For the social advocator: “Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books” by Azar Nafisi

In “Reading Lolita in Tehran,” Nafisi, a literature professor and author, reflects on her time in Tehran in the late '90s, teaching Western classics in an increasingly anti-Western world. As her teachings in a university setting became more stifled, Nafisi resigned from her post as a professor and later started her own book club of sorts with her most dedicated female students.

This group of women regularly met, read classic Western literature such as “The Great Gatsby” or “Pride and Prejudice” and discussed these novels and the impact they had on their lives.

“Reading Lolita in Tehran” takes us to a world that most of us are unfamiliar with, all the while drawing on our mutual love of books. At our cores we are all simply humans, regardless of culture or beliefs, and Nafisi draws on this in a thought-provoking way.

This memoir offers political and social commentary, but it is also a tribute to the charm and power that a good book can hold in anyone’s life.

For the traveler: “Beautiful Ruins” by Jess Walter

“Beautiful Ruins” takes us on a journey through different parts of the world, ranging from old and new Hollywood to the breathtaking coast of Italy. The novel follows an Italian innkeeper, Pasquale, who meets a beautiful — but ill — Hollywood starlet in 1962. Their time in Italy was fleeting but significant, and years later Pasquale is inspired to search for his almost-lover, this beautiful actress, once again.

The prose in “Beautiful Ruins” is just as beautiful and charming as the Italian coast in which the novel is partially set. Be prepared for romance, comedy and an insatiable wanderlust after finishing this enchanting and unique novel.