A summer reading list with something for everyone

5 min readJun 19

Wherein a reader with eclectic taste recommends five wonderful books for your consideration

Woman lying on a towel outside on a grassy lawn, reading a book
Photo by Skylar Zilka on Unsplash

This is the time of year when a lot of “summer reading lists” are published: suggestions for beach reading, cottage reading, or perhaps something to pass the time on a long flight. Here’s my unorthodox list, all highly recommended.

Birnam Wood

Let’s start with fiction. This third novel by Man Booker Prize-winning author Eleanor Catton continues her tradition of cinematic, evocative, gripping story-telling. But don’t come looking for an historic, literary tale like her previous triumph, The Luminaries.

Book cover: Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton
Published by Penquin Random House in Canada, Farrar, Straus & Giroux in the US

Birnam Wood is a thoroughly modern, clear-eyed indictment of jingoistic political theorists, naïve environmentalists and nihilistic tech bros — all in one ripping yarn! This is a story that demonstrates what happens when good intentions, sexual frustration, egos and profit clash in the unlikely setting of a bucolic New Zealand sheep farm.

The title references Macbeth, and Catton delivers a fitting tribute that starts with a slow burn and then all hell breaks loose. Set some time aside: once you get into this book, you won’t want to put it down.

The Wager

This is an equally gripping tale but it’s all true: The Wager, a tale of shipwreck, mutiny and murder, by David Grann. This author has a track record of producing New York Times bestselling nonfiction, and The Wager will continue the streak.

Grann masterfully recreates the bone-chilling, heartless, grasping nature of life at sea on a British privateer ship in the 1700s, risking everything to steal Spanish treasure. The ship sank, and survivors faced a future that makes the Lord of the Flies look like child’s play.

Book Cover — The Wager by David Grann
Published by Penguin Random House in Canada, Doubleday in the US

For the majority of those who set off on this mission, the adventure ends in terror and death. The story of those who did survive the elements…


Recreational writer, collector of antique corkscrews, urban gardener and management consultant to social profit organizations. Proudly Canadian.