Icons in the Public Square
A Revolution By Design for a Zero-Waste Economy

Beacon Press Staff Recommends Summer Reads, 2018 Edition


If you’re not diving into the ocean at the beach this season, crack open those books and dive into summer reading! Sometimes you just need a break  from the awfulness that’s inundated the news and our social feeds. So. Fiction? Nonfiction? What’s your pleasure? We asked our staff members what they’re reading and what they’d recommend. You’ll thank us later.


Orange_El Akkad_Baker

“I’m reading Tommy Orange’s There There, which is packed with memorable, 3D characters, covers a big swath of American history (1970s to present day), and makes me laugh and think. Deserves all the prizes and accolades. Also, a bit slow to catch up to this one, but just finished Omar El Akkad’s American War, which really took me by surprised. I don’t read science fiction as a rule, but this felt like reading a novel about the civil war and one about our current climate set in the near future. No flying cars, but malfunctioning drones. Can hardly recommend it heartily enough. Also, coming to this one very late, but Calvin Baker’s historical novel Dominion, which is a very powerful look at freed slaves in the eighteenth century leading up to the revolution. I guess I’m getting lessons in American history through different lenses. Which, of course, is what we do in nonfiction with our Revisioning American History series.”
—Helene Atwan, Director

Novels in Three Lines

“I’ve read and reread Novels in Three Lines several times. Fénéon was a French anarchist and art critic and wrote anonymous filler and headlines for a French newspaper, and this book is a collection of them. Of course, now there’s a twitter feed for this content—these headlines were the original, proto-twitter micro novels.”
—Carol Chu, Creative Director

The Heads of Colored People“I recently finished The Heads of Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires, and I absolutely loved it. Each story paints a complicated and enticing vignette of unique and often humorous characters that leave the reader surprised and anxious for more. The stories delve into contemporary everyday topics that on surface might feel minute, but our drawn out to create captivating portraits of people simply existing.”
—Maya Fernandez, Editorial Assistant  

Salt Fat Acid Heat“I’m currently obsessed with Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat. I’m trying to become a better cook, and this is sort of the opposite of a traditional cookbook. Instead of just giving specific instructions with no explanation as to “why,” this book is all about figuring out how these four major elements of cooking work and how to use them in the smartest ways for all different types of food. Nosrat has insane cooking credentials, and her writing is super approachable and funny!”
—Emily Powers, Associate Marketing Manager 

Her Body and Other Parties_How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

“Two books that blew me over this summer:

  • Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado: a debut collection of short stories. Some very spooky, some very sad. All very queer and excellent.
  • How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee: A really lovely and thoughtful collection of essays reflecting on the little-scene emotional interior of becoming a writer, especially as a queer, biracial man during the AIDS crisis.”

—Ayla Zuraw-Friedland, Assistant Editor