Are you looking for a great read this summer that is not pure fluff, but not so heavy that you wonder why you are reading it for fun? Here are some books with great insights about life, different cultures, history, and society. They also happen to be fantastic reads, although not necessarily fun reads. These books would be good choices for a curious high school student, the college bound, and for adults that are just looking to expand their knowledge and reading while not afraid to cross the threshold of the teen room doors.
1. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. The great-granddaughter of Iran’s last emperor and the daughter of ardent Marxists describes growing up in Tehran in a country plagued by political upheaval and vast contradictions between public and private life.
2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.
3. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson. An account of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 relates the stories of two men who shaped the history of the event–architect Daniel H. Burnham, who coordinated its construction, and serial killer Herman Mudgett.
4. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. In an action-packed modern fable about the problems young Chinese Americans face when trying to participate in American popular culture, the lives of three apparently unrelated characters–Jin Wang, Monkey King, and Chin-Kee–come together with an unexpected twist.
5. The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan. Presents an oral history of the dust storms that devastated the Great Plains during the Depression, following several families and their communities in their struggle to persevere despite the devastation.
Looking for even more books that are smart and fascinating read? Here are a few more reading suggestions. If I missed one you would like to recommend please leave a comment and let us know so other readers can add it to their list as well! Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Maus and Maus II by Art Spiegelman, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam by Ann Marie Fleming, Walden by Henry David Thoreau, I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala by Rigoberta Menchú, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling, Persepolis 2: the Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi, First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers by Loung Ung, Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed
Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh, or The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures by Anne Fadiman.