[media-credit name=”Haden Hamblin” align=”alignright” width=”220″][/media-credit]Many students may not enter summer break looking for reasons to keep reading, but for those Wildcats sailing through summer doldrums, there are some captivating options out there.

As the WSU The Signpost Arts and Entertainment editor, here are my top five recommendations in fiction and non-fiction for summer reading. These books are perfect for students looking for a readable, fast-paced story or an interesting, casual paper companion. They are all guaranteed to get you reading this summer.


  1. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon, 2003. This novel, set in England, is told from the perspective of a boy with autism. He discovers a dead dog in his neighborhood and goes about trying to solve the mystery while also interacting, in his own way, with his neighbors and family. It’s a bit darker and more language-heavy than the title might indicate but definitely worth the time.
  2. Atonement – Ian McEwan, 2001. The book which spawned the 2007 Oscar-nominated movie is a beautifully written romantic war drama set in WWII England and France. Two lovers are sent in tragic directions because a little girl tells a lie, and the book chronicles their paths and the girl’s efforts to atone.
  3. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro, 1989. This may be my favorite book on the list. Yes, it’s stuffy. Yes, it’s wordy. Yes, it’s British. But if you loved PBS’s Downton Abbey, you’ll salivate over this heartbreaking story of a butler who is the master of an obsolete universe.
  4. The Chosen – Chaim Potok, 1967. Loosely based on the author’s childhood, this classic tells the story of two Jewish boys and their fathers, baseball, faith, WWII and the embracing (or abandoning) of religious traditions.
  5. Okay For Now – Gary D. Schmidt, 2011. One of the best youth authors you haven’t heard of yet delivers an eccentric tale of boyhood life in 1968 New York City. It’s an easier read than the others on this list, but that doesn’t make it any less good.
  6. Unaccustomed Earth – Jhumpa Lahiri, 2008. I came across this as a requirement for one of my classes and fell in love with this author. She tells the stories of people who find themselves in new territories, writing frequently from the perspective of Indian-Americans. It’s heavier and more adult than the others on this list but worth the effort.


  1. What the Dog Saw – Malcolm Gladwell, 2009. Gladwell writes about hair dye, infomercials, the Dog Whisperer and choking with the narrative pace of the best novels. Ever wonder why there are so many types of mustard, but only one flavor of ketchup? He’ll tell you and enthrall you with the answer.
  2. All Creatures Great and Small – James Herriot, 1972. Recounting his life as a rural veterinarian in early-1900s England, Herriot writes about animals and humans like they’re the same thing. Okay, it’s a bit sappy, but there’s nothing wrong with that. And if you like it, he wrote several more.
  3. All the President’s Men – Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, 1974. This is the book that shook the nation. It details the journalistic efforts of Bernstein and Woodward to expose Nixon and his cronies during Watergate. It’s written like a 300-page news article, so pace yourself. The information, now old, will still shock you.
  4. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid – Bill Bryson, 2006. Bryson, normally a travel writer, recounts his life growing up in post-Depression Des Moines. It’s hilarious, happy, informative and makes you miss your childhood.
  5. In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash – Jean Shepherd, 1966. Have you ever seen that famous movie A Christmas Story? Ever wonder where that material came from? Well, it came from this book. More specifically, it came from a small piece of this book, which compiles the radio essays of storyteller Shepherd into a wonderfully exaggerated look at childhood. It’s 99 percent autobiographical and one percent hilarious embellishment.
  6. Behind the Beautiful Forevers – Katherine Boo, 2012. Okay, I haven’t actually read this yet, but I wanted to beat the crowd of other newspaper folks to recommend it. Boo recounts the lives of several people in a Mumbai, India slum. It’s supposed to be gritty and eye-opening without being preachy, and if it doesn’t win all the awards, I’ll eat this newspaper.
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