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8 Inspiring Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List

8 Inspiring Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List

Summer is officially here, and there is no better time than summer to escape reality by curling up with a good book on the beach in the sun, at that getaway vacation house, or on your couch on a rainy day. Need some ideas for your next book? We polled YSC staff, and here’s our list of must-read summer books to give you a little inspiration.

Traveling Mercies

Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, by Anne Lamott
Publisher: Anchor Books

“A wonderful snapshot of life spanning struggle and celebration. I think the author touches on many themes to which we can all relate.” -  Jean Rowe, Associate Director of Survivorship Programs


Bossypants, by Tina Fey
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

“This is the funniest book I’ve ever read. I literally laugh out loud and am brought to tears reading Tina Fey’s hysterical take on life. It’s a good reminder to find the funny in everyday life.” -  Annie Hiller, Senior Database and Finance Manager

Number the Stars

Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

“I had a very hard time choosing just ONE inspiring book, but if I have to choose, this is a great pick. It’s a children’s book, but it has stuck with me ever since I first read it in the fifth grade. I really appreciate the themes of friendship and loyalty and willingness to do what is right in the face of a terrible situation. To me, these messages make it an incredibly hopeful book.” - Sitara Mahtani, Development Associate

When Breath Becomes Air

When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi
Publisher: Random House

“Yes, it’s sad. But it’s also incredibly inspiring. You are drawn in, and completely forget these words of wisdom are coming from a dying man. Reading this has given me peace and guidance.” - Medha Sutliff, Senior Regional Outreach Manager


Frindle, by Andrew Clements
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers

“This is a children’s book - one I read with my daughter when our family was dealing with the flu this past winter. It’s a fun book to enjoy with your kids during the summer, with a story of believing in yourself and following your dreams.” - Naomi Gewirtz, Director of Employee Relations

The Alchemist

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
Publisher: HarperOne

“I was introduced to this book by a colleague, Danielle Armour. This is a story of a boy who has a dream of a hidden treasure near the Egypt pyramids. He has the courage to follow ‘the signs’ that lead him on a journey of exploration and self-discovery. This book changed the way in which I look at the challenges and opportunities that life presents and every time I re-read this book I continue to find insights and wisdom into my own life’s journey.” -  Kay Butts-Pruett, Associate Director of Individual Giving

“This book lets you see the world through different eyes and challenges you to see the light in all. It asks you if you are truly doing what you enjoy in life and if not, what is holding you back. I read this book every year and it speaks to me each time.” - Danielle Armour, Events Associate

When Women Were Birds

When Women Were Birds, by Terry Tempest Williams
Publisher: Picador

“This is one of those books I give out like medicine. Upon her death, Terry Tempest Williams’s mother left her one important thing: her journals. But when Williams opens the journals, they are all blank. Every single one. What was her mother trying to communicate, or not communicate? The ensuing memoir is an exploration of what it means to be a woman in America, and also in the natural world. It’s also about legacy, and the love we leave behind.” - Emily Helck, Senior Marketing and Communications Manager

Little Bee

Little Bee, by Chris Cleave
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

“This book takes you on a real emotional rollercoaster. It is both devastating and inspiring at the same time. It follows the parallel stories of a little girl from Nigeria seeking asylum and a British magazine editor who meet during an oil conflict and are reunited years later. I can’t say anything else, otherwise I’ll ruin it.” - Jennifer Richey, Associate Director of Corporate Partnerships


Be sure to click on the links listed to purchase these books using AmazonSmile and support YSC! AmazonSmile is an automatic way to support a charity every time you shop. Simply search these books using or click on the links provided, select Young Survival Coalition as the charitable organization of your choice, and AmazonSmile will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from all of your summer book buys to YSC. Happy reading!