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12 Feature

The Octagon

May 27, 2014

How to do your summer reading—and enjoy it It all starts with books that actually strike your fancy. So next time you have a lonely day with nothing to do but check social media and listen to “Summertime Sadness,” curl up by the pool (or in the shade) with one of our recommendations—Sparknotes unnecessary.

My favorite book is the dictionary.

Fiction or non-fiction?

I reject your reality and substitute my own.

Steve Martin or domestic violence?

I didn’t learn Elvish for nothing.

Fantasy or realism?

Mordor is out of my comfort zone.

I forced my family to watch “Cheaper by the Dozen 2.”

“Born Standing Up”

Yeah, (auto)biographies are kinda dry. But this one is by Steve Martin, so there’s plenty of comic relief. —Daniel Hernried

“The Glass Castle”

“The Glass Castle” is a memoir by Jeannette Walls, an author from New York. Raised as a homeless, hopeful daughter of a drunk and an irresponsible mother, she must fend for herself while taking care of her siblings. Written with no self-pity and absolute honesty, this book chronicles the hidden struggles of a woman. —Avi Bhullar

I don’t think I’ve reached my sadness quota yet.

How do you feel about alternate timelines?

If revisionism works for the North Koreans, it’ll work for me! Swords or phasers? I like my fiction as close to non-fiction as possible.

Did I mention I also know Klingon? Superheroes, too?

Sometimes the old ways are better.

How many characters can you keep track of?

“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

Even if you’ve already read this, it’s worth another read. “Hitchhiker’s Guide,” by Douglas Adams, follows one Arthur Dent, who wakes up on a Thursday to the end of the world. He hitches a ride on an alien ship, and the adventures begin. And remember, as the Guide notes, a towel is the most useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. —Amelia Fineberg

I’ll bring my cape.


I’ll bring a notebook.


“Game of Thrones”

I’ve never been good with names.

Spoiler alert: Everyone dies, and the ones you love die twice. Author George R. R. Martin shows no mercy. —Amelia Fineberg

“The Name of the Wind”

Magic, adventure, romance and action merge for an epic read in Patrick Rothfuss’s “The Name of the Wind.” The book follows a young man named Kvothe after the murder of his family and his quest for revenge. Rothfuss does an excellent job of making the characters in the book relatable, and the book’s story is both compelling and engaging. While it is rather lengthy at nearly 700 pages, the book never seems to lose its purpose and remains entertaining throughout. —Eric Hilton

“Watchmen,” by Alan Moore, is a comic-book masterpiece. Between the complex, fascinating characters, the morally ambiguous storyline, and, of course, the stylistically nostalgic drawings, it is an iconic piece of work. —Amelia Fineberg

“The Affair”

“Cloud Atlas”

In David Mitchell’s saga, spanning centuries, six protagonists grapple with themes of free will, capitalism, racial prejudice and truth. The stories are nested like Russian dolls and tied together with repeating motifs. Each story has a unique tone and feel, and together they make a cohesive patchwork of excellent writing. —Amelia Fineberg

If you care for suspense at all, then Lee Child’s “The Affair” is right up your alley. “The Affair” marks the 16th installment in Child’s Jack Reacher series (and perhaps you’ve seen the movie with Tom Cruise), but Reacher’s toughness and the plot twists never get old. In this book, Reacher is sent to Carter Crossing, Miss., to investigate a murder that increasingly resembles a cover-up to protect a soldier with powerful backings. Reacher must uncover the truth, while others try to bury it forever. —Ryan Ho