Many nerdy families are planning trips to the major tourist attractions around the globe this summer, some of you might have something a little more adventurous in mind: reading.
From young adult novels to history to projects for kids, here are my picks for six notable books to read this summer.
1. The 5th Wave (Rick Yancey)
Nothing says summer like a post-apocalyptic alien invasion.
The 5th Wave takes place in a world that has ended not with a bang, but a whimper: The first four attacks from the aliens have decimated the world’s population without epic space battles or lasers flying through the skies. As the few remaining survivors wait for the fifth wave of attacks, young Cassie searches desperately for her brother. While the novel is aimed at young adults, the page-turning story hooks teens and adults immediately.
2. The Astronaut Wives Club (Lily Koppel)
I’m not into Real Housewives or Desperate Housewives or any of that drivel, but as soon as I heard about this book, based on the (actually real) wives of the Mercury Seven astronauts, I was intrigued.
The Mercury Seven were the first astronauts selected in 1959 to fly in space: Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Wally Schirra, Gordon Cooper, and Deke Slayton.
The Astronaut Wives Club follows the women who were launched into stardom as their husbands were launched into space. The group became lifelong friends, supporting each other in times of tough missions and rough marriages. It might seem like drama, but it’s also history, making it a perfect beach read.
3. Joyland (Stephen King)
Stephen King takes us to a small-town amusement park with a dark secret in Joyland. The book introduces readers to college student Devon Jones as he works at Joyland in the summer of 1973. He uncovers the mystery behind a murder that took place at the park years ago, and along the way makes friends and comes of age in true King style. Joyland doesn’t seem to be as horrifying as King’s usual fare, and might make a good read for teens as well. Proceed with caution.
4. The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Neil Gaiman)
While The Ocean at the End of the Lane also follows a young protagonist, the novel is Neil Gaiman’s return to books for an adult audience. In a Seattle Times interview, Gaiman described the novel as “more of an adult book because it deals with the matter of childhood, the matter of memory. You don’t need to talk to kids about that.” The story tells the tale of a 7-year-old boy who discovers a supernatural secret and begins a journey through a strange, creepy world. This novel isn’t your typical beach read, and it should make for some magical nights as you stay up late to find out what happens.
5. Robotics: Discover the Science and Technology of the Future with 20 Projects (Kathy Ceceri)
If your kids are looking for something to do this summer that doesn’t involve a television, get them to work on the engineering projects in Robotics. Aimed at ages 9 and older, the book contains instructions for 20 projects that call for easy-to-find parts. But these aren’t activities to be taken lightly: Your little engineers will be building real robots. Adults who have always wondered how things work can also benefit from the projects as you tackle them together.
6. Superman: Birthright (Mark Waid)
Though Superman: Birthright was written in 2005, you’ll see many familiar elements from the upcoming Man of Steel film trailers in its pages. If you want to get a good feel for a Superman origin story done right, or you just haven’t read a good comic book in a while, pick up Superman: Birthright this summer. Birthright is a re-telling of Superman’s origin story that captures the sense of wonder that we all feel for the Man of Steel. The graphic novel also gives us a feeling of Clark Kent’s real personality, which is not easily accomplished in most Superman comics. But Birthright is missing something that Man of Steel has added: Clark Kent’s super-beard, which is a topic that Conan O’Brien is quite passionate about.