4 Book Recommendations for August

The days of summer are now numbered, which means you better make these last few weeks count.  If you’re like me and have no more travel plans until the summer rush is over, reading a good book on a balcony or by a local pool is enough to make you feel like you are on vacation. And if you’re soaking up sun away from home, the next best thing to bringing me along with you as a travel date is having a good book as your companion. When you pack your beach bag, don’t forget one, or all, of these books for leisurely reading:

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi - Fiction 

The debut novel by 25 year old, Nigerian American Tomi Adeyemi is nothing short of consuming - so much so that the author was able to earn a multimillion-dollar publishing and movie deal before it was even released. The first book of the planned trilogy is enormous and still feels too short. Inspired by her travels to Brazil, African culture, cult fantasy classics like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, and her lived experience as a black woman, Adeyemi thrusts the reader headfirst into a fantasy set in the mystical country of Orïsha. Zélie Adebola sets out on an adventure to reclaim the magic and power that once belonged to the Maji, a culture that has been persecuted for years by the fearful Kosidán. What emerges from this novel is a powerful lesson in discrimination, injustice, and oppression- making it a very relevant commentary on the world today.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan - Fiction

Before the movie hits theaters on August 15, you’ll want to dig into this. Kevin Kwan makes you a spectator to the exceedingly opulent, and often cut-throat, world of extraordinary wealth. When Rachel Chu meets Nicholas Young, life initially mirrors the traditional love story of college sweethearts… until Nicholas invites her to attend the wedding of his best friend in Singapore and shows her the world he grew up in. There are all the regular rich people things, like rare cigars and ultra-premium open bars and luxury resorts... then there are the crazy rich people things, like jets outfitted with yoga rooms and libraries, private estates that could never be found on a map, and mothers that request a copy of your family tree for consideration before they will entertain your presence at the next ladies lunch. Yes, it reads like an updated (and more monied) Gossip Girl; but Crazy Rich Asians is so wildly entertaining that it is much more gender neutral. The chances that anyone not born into this world could or would ever become this rich are slim to none-  but with Kwan’s depiction of it, why would you want to be?

Failing Up by Leslie Odom, Jr - Non-Fiction

Leslie Odom, Jr. might best be known for his award winning roles in theatre and his on-screen characters, but this personal reflection regarding his personal struggle of making it in the acting world is what I will remember him for. In intimate detail, Odom describes how he grew into his passion for acting. In contrast to most personal memoirs recounting success careers, Odom doesn’t solely focus on the “big breaks” and the opportunities that naturally fell into place afterwards. Instead, he spends a considerable amount of time describing the many challenges he faced in his career, how he processed the inevitability of failing, and the universal truths that each failure revealed. It’s a pep talk, but one of the realer ones; the sincerity and authenticity of his writing makes him less of an unfamiliar successful figure talking at you. Indeed, he becomes more of a personal mentor.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman - Non-Fiction

Hailed as a “major intellectual event” by Harvard University economist Andrei Shleifer, Thinking, Fast and Slow offers incredible insight into the behavioral process that governs our decision making and rationality (or irrationality). Kahneman asserts that we use two systems to think and arrive at every decision we make: System 1 is fast, or intuitive, and System 2 is slow, or critical. While most people would like to think they govern their lives by decision made using System 2, it is in fact System 1 that is most often engaged. The challenge, then, is that how often we allow cognitive biases, past experiences, and snap judgements to all of the things we encounter on a day to day basis. After dispelling this knowledge to the reader, Kahneman then challenges us to be more diligent in challenging our own intuitions, prejudices, and beliefs by applying objective logic and reason. In doing so, we may start to see our businesses, relationships, and the world around us in a completely different light.