Not Your Typical Summer Reading List
Summer reading is all about easy, relaxing, fun books, right? But what if you want more? Summer books can do more than entertain you while sunbathing. They can challenge you, introduce you to whole new genres, and step you out of your comfort zone. The books that bring the most pleasure and excitement aren’t the tired and predictable novels. They’re the books that push the boundaries, create mayhem, and stir-up a passion deep inside of you. If you want a typical summer read, this list isn’t for you. Here are our top unconventional summer books that break the stereotypes and challenge your understanding of literature.
Journeyman by Mark J. Rose
A slow burn novel about time-travel to colonial America, Journeyman is not your typical sci-fi adventure. Matt is stuck in a time he’s only read about in history books. With only a few personal belongings, he finds himself trapped in back in time. With knowledge and skills from the future, does he have what it takes to survive 250 years in the past?
Unlike most time-travel premise novels, which rely heavily on action-packed end-of-the world scenarios, Journeyman focuses on the social aspect of being lost in another time. Matt’s internal struggle with starting over inspires self-reflection and deeper thought about life.
The Engine Woman’s Light by Laurel Anne Hill
An unconventional young-adult novel, The Engine Woman’s Light grapples with the concepts of death, morals, and sacrifices. The book creates a whole new world with steampunk, spirits, and Mexican heritage. Juanita is given a mission at birth, to save the “undesirables” from an asylum where they are used and mistreated. She is guided by spirits as she takes on the challenge, however, some spirits have their own agenda in mind.
Unlike typical young adult novels, The Engine Woman’s Light creates a unique steampunk world filled with gadgets and locomotives.
Gates of Midnight: Warrior at the Gate by Debbie Lynn Smith
A graphic novel with a female heroine who fights the monsters of New York City. The Gate has opened, the Gate that has kept the monsters out, until now Mankind’s acts of violence and hatred have invited ancient Gods and monsters into our world. Some wreak havoc in the city, while others live among us, waiting to enact their vengeance. Raven Alice Moon is a veteran medic with PTSD. After losing her father, Raven starts to investigate and finds herself searching for the creature who is responsible – but is she ready for what she’s about to find? Can she handle the monsters from the other world along with humanity’s own fiends?
Divergent from the typical graphic novel, Gates of Midnight is aimed at women but enjoyable for everyone. With a powerful female heroine who can stand up against her foes and a unique storyline, Gates of Midnight is a must-read unconventional summer graphic novel.
Ivory Ghosts Adapted by Caitlin O’Connell, Art by Debora Carita and Liezl Buenaventura.
Not your typical comic book; battling to save the elephants with education and awareness. Ivory Ghosts is not only an entertaining mystery, but also a comic book that teaches people about the illegal ivory trade. Protagonist Catherine Sohon is tasked with conducting an elephant census, but she soon discovers that there is a greater threat to their lives than she could ever imagine. Poachers, politics, and corruption all play a part in the declining population. A quadruple homicide raises the stakes in the battle to save Africa’s elephants.
Beyond the thrilling storyline, Ivory Ghosts manages to capture the heart with its unforgettable, breathtaking artwork that immerses you in the world of the elephants.
The Prince by Nanishka Torres
A romance that breaks stereotypes. In this fantasy novel politics is governed without religious interference and the kingdom enjoys the peace that comes with a strong and fair leader. But the prince is about to be put to the test when his lover is kidnapped by a radical group. The fight to safely bring home the man he loves pushes him to the extreme. This LGBTQ friendly novel focuses on the love between two strong men, and the power that their love brings.
The Prince is definitely not your typical love story. The fantasy novel shows two strong men and their commitment to fighting for each other and for what is right. Expand your understanding of love and appreciate a new side of passion.
Next Therapist Please by Laurie Finkelstein
Fun and humorous with a twist; this book discusses mental illness and the struggles to stay positive. A lighthearted look at a difficult topic. Janie Weiss is “like a dandelion in a sea of roses”; social anxiety, depression, and OCD are just the tip of the neurotic iceberg. Janie recounts her multiple therapists, devastating losses, and her battles with mental illness.
Next Therapist Please is relatable for those who struggle with mental illness and a great learning opportunity for those who wish to understand. Fun and heartwarming with a heavy topic, not your typical summer read.
XX v XY: The Final World War by Christina Cigala and Bobby Goldstein
A dystopian future novel to make your skin crawl. President X has the women in his society altered physically, emotionally, and mentally to fit his ideal of beauty. The girls then compete in a beauty pageant where one “lucky” winner is selected to become another child-bride while all other contestants meet a lethal fate. Perverted with power, he must be stopped. His opposition is a country lead by women. These women, however, are drugged and lied to. With a strong dislike for all men, the women of this society take a mind and body altering drug to suppress their weaker qualities, so they can overcome any man. These drugs and this philosophy comes at a cost, as they lose the emotions that make them uniquely woman.
Not your typical summer book, this dystopian future eerily resembles some of the struggles women currently face. Explore what society could eventually face if we continue to suppress and demoralize women.