May 30th, 2019

We're not sure what it is about summer, but it always puts us in the mood to read. Whether your summer is full of poolside vacations or work trips, there's always time to squeeze in a few pages here and there.

We've put together a list of 15 books (and audiobooks) that are on our radar for the summer. Some are new releases and some have been around for a little while, but they've all caught our eye for one reason or another.

Take a look and let us know if there are any you think our list is missing.

Looking for something to wear beachside? Take a look at our summer essentials.


When you’re on vacation, it’s nice to have a roster of books that are so interesting or so easy to devour you can get through each one in a couple days. Sometimes it’s easy reading, and sometimes it’s just a story so captivating you can’t put it down. Here are a few that are on our list.

1. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Why we’re interested: This sounds like the kind of book you won’t want to put down. This is a memoir from a neurosurgeon who was just starting his career when he is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Sounds heartbreaking and captivating.

Synopsis: A profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis who attempts to answer the question, “What makes a life worth living?”

First Man In: Leading from the Front by Ant Middleton

Why we’re interested: Ant Middleton is an English former soldier, and he’s had some pretty incredible and difficult experiences. This memoir for him is sure to have some outstanding insights.

Synopsis: No one is born a leader. But through sheer determination and by confronting life’s challenges, Ant Middleton has come to know the meaning of true leadership. In First Man In, he shares the core lessons he’s learned over the course of his fascinating, exhilarating life.

Special forces training is no walk in the park. The rules are strict and they make sure you learn the hard way, pushing you beyond the limits of what is physically possible. There is no mercy. Even when you are bleeding and broken, to admit defeat is failure.

The Empress of Idaho by Todd Babiak

Why we’re interested: Todd Babiuk is a best-selling and award-winning author from Edmonton, so he is always on our radar. This is his newest release, and it’s certainly got people talking.

Synopsis:  Monument, Colorado, July 1989. Fourteen-year-old Adam Lisinski is mesmerized the moment Beatrice Cyr steps into his life. Adam has a lot going for him: he's hoping to be a starter on his high school football team, he has a fiercely protective mom, a girlfriend, and a part-time job at Eugene's Gas Stop, where he works with his best friend. But he neglects everything that matters to him after Beatrice, his neighbour's enigmatic new wife, comes to town.

Chase Darkness with Me: How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders by Billy Jensen

Why we’re interested: The true crime genre is having a big moment, and this sounds like a fascinating look behind-the-scenes.

Synopsis: Have you ever wanted to solve a murder? Gather the clues the police overlooked? Put together the pieces? Identify the suspect? Journalist Billy Jensen spent fifteen years investigating unsolved murders, fighting for the families of victims. Every story he wrote had one thing in common―they didn't have an ending. The killer was still out there.

Open by Andre Agassi, J.R. Moehringer

Why we’re interested: Another memoir from a fascinating person. This book has outstanding reviews, and it explores the pain and challenges that come along with living out someone else’s dream.

Synopsis: From Andre Agassi, one of the most beloved athletes in history and one of the most gifted men ever to step onto a tennis court, a beautiful, haunting autobiography. Agassi’s incredibly rigorous training begins when he is just a child. By the age of thirteen, he is banished to a Florida tennis camp that feels like a prison camp. Lonely, scared, a ninth-grade dropout, he rebels in ways that will soon make him a 1980s icon. He dyes his hair, pierces his ears, dresses like a punk rocker. By the time he turns pro at sixteen, his new look promises to change tennis forever, as does his lightning-fast return.


Audiobooks are the busy person’s hack to reading. We particularly like listening to books in the car on our commutes, but it’s also great for when you’re cooking, working around the house, or doing other tasks that don’t take up too much brain power.

The narrator can be just as important as the book itself, so we’ve chosen some that are particularly well suited to the audiobook format.

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by  Trevor Noah

Narrated by: Trevor Noah

Why we’re interested: We’ve heard fantastic things about this book, and specifically about the audiobook version. Trevor Noah (now known for his work on The Daily Show) narrates his own words about growing up in apartheid South Africa--and his eventual liberation.

Synopsis: Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Narrated by: Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, George Saunders, Carrie Brownstein, Miranda July, Lena Dunham, and more

Why we’re interested: This audiobook tells the story of Abraham Lincoln and his relationship with his son in a completely unique way. It’s narrated by an absolutely killer cast of 166 people (yes, you read that correctly), and it won the 2018 APA Audie Award for Audiobook of the Year.

Synopsis: Unfolding in a graveyard over the course of a single night, narrated by a dazzling chorus of voices, Lincoln in the Bardo is a literary experience unlike any other—for no one but Saunders could conceive it. February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

Narrated by: Will Damron

Why we’re interested: There are plenty of dramatic tales that come from Silicon Valley, and this might be one of the most intriguing. It was named one of the best books of the year. We like the idea of this as an audiobook, because we don’t think we’d be able to put it down long enough to get anything else done.

Synopsis: The full inside story of the breathtaking rise and shocking collapse of a multibillion-dollar startup. In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup "unicorn" promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood tests significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fundraising round that valued the company at $9 billion, putting Holmes's worth at an estimated $4.7 billion. There was just one problem: The technology didn't work.


If you’re the type of person who is always on the hunt for new ideas or different approaches to business, these books might be up your alley.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by  Chip Heath, Dan Heath

Why we’re interested: We’re curious about the psychology behind why some ideas seem to have more permanence than others. This book takes an up-close look at that phenomenon and talks about how it can be leveraged when it matters.

Synopsis: Urban legends, conspiracy theories, and bogus news stories circulate effortlessly. Meanwhile, people with important ideas—entrepreneurs, teachers, politicians, and journalists—struggle to make them “stick. In Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath reveal the anatomy of ideas that stick and explain ways to make ideas stickier, such as applying the human scale principle, using the Velcro Theory of Memory, and creating curiosity gaps.

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE by Phil Knight

Why we’re interested: This is a book that Chad has read before, and he keeps coming back to it. It provides some astonishing insights into what it took to build one of the biggest brands in the world.

Synopsis: In this candid and riveting memoir, for the first time ever, Nike founder and CEO Phil Knight shares the inside story of the company’s early days as an intrepid start-up and its evolution into one of the world’s most iconic, game-changing, and profitable brands.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

Why we’re interested: Every business owner you ever meet will tell you that a good team is critical. This book looks at how to better motivate the people around you to ultimately create a bigger impact, both in business and in life.

Synopsis: Forget everything you thought you knew about how to motivate people—at work, at school, at home. It's wrong. As Daniel H. Pink (author of To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Motivating Others) explains in his paradigm-shattering book Drive, the secret to high performance and satisfaction in today's world is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.

Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries by Safi Bahcall

Why we’re interested: Big, bold ideas are central to success, but what do you do when you can’t get them off the ground? This sounds like an interesting look at how to nurture those big ideas, rather than watching them bounce off a wall of rejection.

Synopsis: In Loonshots, physicist and entrepreneur Safi Bahcall reveals a surprising new way of thinking about the mysteries of group behavior that challenges everything we thought we knew about nurturing radical breakthroughs. Drawing on the science of phase transitions, Bahcall shows why teams, companies, or any group with a mission will suddenly change from embracing wild new ideas to rigidly rejecting them, just as flowing water will suddenly change into brittle ice.

Books that will make you think

Every once in a while, it’s good to challenge your perspectives. These are some books that dive into topics in ways we’ve never thought about before.

Parkland: Birth of a Movement by Dave Cullen

Why we’re interested: This will likely be a tough read, but an interesting one about the political and social aftermath of the Parkland shootings, spearheaded by the students themselves.

Synopsis: The New York Times bestselling author of Columbine offers a deeply moving account of the extraordinary teenage survivors of the Parkland shooting who pushed back against the NRA and Congressional leaders and launched the singular grassroots March for Our Lives movement.

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World—and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund, Ola Rosling

Why we’re interested: This book takes a look at all the things we thought we knew, but actually know very little about. It challenges misconceptions and looks at why we tend to make the assumptions we do. It’s always good to check yourself once in a while.

Synopsis: Factfulness: The stress-reducing habit of only carrying opinions for which you have strong supporting facts. When asked simple questions about global trends—what percentage of the world’s population live in poverty; why the world’s population is increasing; how many girls finish school—we systematically get the answers wrong.

Are We There Yet?: The American Automobile Past, Present, and Driverless by Dan Albert

Why we’re interested:  This is an exploration of car culture and how it’s likely to change once the human connection has been removed, thanks to a projected future of driverless vehicles. A very interesting topic, especially considering how ingrained driving has become in our lives.

Synopsis: In recent years, tech companies have been teaching robots to drive. Those who would sell us self-driving cars promise that they will reduce pollution, eliminate traffic, and prevent countless injuries and deaths. But even if robots turn into responsible drivers, are we ready to become a nation of passengers?

In Are We There Yet?, Dan Albert combines historical scholarship and personal narrative to explore how car culture has suffused America’s DNA. It was the plain, old-fashioned, human-driven car that built the American economy, won our wars, and shaped our democratic creed as it moved us about. Drivers’ ed made teenagers into citizens; auto repair made boys into men.


What else is on your reading list this summer? If you’re in the Downtown Edmonton area, we suggest checking out Audrey’s Books for a great selection.

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