Saturday, April 20, 2024



Generocity’s 2021 summer reading list

June 22, 2021 Category: FeaturedLongPurpose
Summer is practically a synonym for “time to read,” yeah?

Schools and libraries make summer reading available to students; the Free Library of Philadelphia‘s “One Book, One Philadelphia” holds its literary-star-studded finale; and the New York Times publishes a summer reading list that is the stuff of dreams for readers and authors alike.

Even Bill Gates has a summer reading list.


We all know that reading over the summer helps students retain critical literacy skills, and understand that, for adults, keeping up with reading is an integral component of professional development.

But we underestimate just how many physical and mental health benefits reading offers.

All the better if it takes place outside, on a beautiful, balmy day, with the sunlight dappling the page (or the eReader’s screen) and a cool beverage readily at hand.

With that in mind, we asked members of Generocity’s community what was on their “To Be Read” list for this summer, and they responded with a surprising variety of fiction and nonfiction. This list is compiled from the responses we received.


1. Empowering Science and Mathematics Education in Urban Schools

  • Description: A unique look at a frustratingly understudied subject, Empowering Science and Mathematics Education pushes beyond the idea of teaching for social justice and into larger questions of how and why students participate in math and science.
  • Authors: Edna Tan and Angela Calabrese Barton
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ University of Chicago Press; Illustrated edition (August 15, 2012)
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0226037975
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0226037974

“I will be reading this as part of a summer reading circle with fellow STEM educators. We all choose our own book and discuss and reflect with each other every other week!”

From our Partners

Ami Patel Hopkins, educator and columnist

2. The Psychology of Money: Timeless lessons on wealth, greed, and happiness

  • Description: Doing well with money isn’t necessarily about what you know. It’s about how you behave. And behavior is hard to teach, even to really smart people…. In The Psychology of Money, award-winning author Morgan Housel shares 19 short stories exploring the strange ways people think about money and teaches you how to make better sense of one of life’s most important topics.
  • Author: Morgan Housel
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Harriman House (September 8, 2020)
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0857197681
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0857197689

3. The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War

  • Description: In the century after the Civil War, an economic revolution improved the American standard of living in ways previously unimaginable. Electric lighting, indoor plumbing, motor vehicles, air travel, and television transformed households and workplaces. But has that era of unprecedented growth come to an end? Weaving together a vivid narrative, historical anecdotes, and economic analysis, The Rise and Fall of American Growth challenges the view that economic growth will continue unabated.
  • Author: Robert J. Gordon
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Princeton University Press; Illustrated edition (January 12, 2016)
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0691147728
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0691147727

“I bought several friends ‘Psychology of Money’ by
@morganhousel and I just finished Robert Gordon’s 2016 ‘Rise and Fall of American Growth’. I have a stack of other nerdy economics, finance and history books, many on inequality.”

Christopher Wink, CEO of Technically Media

4. The Seat of the Soul

  • Description: The Seat of the Soul encourages you become the authority in your own life. It will change the way you see the world, interact with other people, and understand your own actions and motivations… The Seat of the Soul has sold millions of copies around the globe, and as it changes lives, more and more people begin to live by the values of the spirit. Indeed, a new world is emerging, and this book brings its message to you.
  • Author: Gary Zukav
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Simon & Schuster; Anniversary edition (March 11, 2014)
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 147675540X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1476755403

“Next up for me is ‘The Seat of the Soul’ by Gary Zukav. It’s an atypical read for me, but looking forward to intentionally exploring the four values (harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence) of the soul.”

Vincent Better, VP of Technically Media

My nonfiction TBR list includes a Caroline Criado Perez book mentioned in this recent Generocity article, a book by Nathalie Molina Niño who I heard speak at an ImpactPHL conference some years ago, and one by Mikki Kendall, which I fully expect to be as smart and incisive as Kendall is in real life:

5. Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

  • Description: Data is fundamental to the modern world. From economic development to health care to education and public policy, we rely on numbers to allocate resources and make crucial decisions. But because so much data fails to take into account gender, because it treats men as the default and women as atypical, bias and discrimination are baked into our systems. And women pay tremendous costs for this insidious bias, in time, in money, and often with their lives.
  • Author: Caroline Criado Perez
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Harry N. Abrams (March 2, 2021)
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1419735217
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1419735219

6. Leapfrog: The New Revolution for Women Entrepreneurs

  • Description: Refreshingly frank and witty, author Nathalie Molina Niño is a serial tech entrepreneur, the founder and CEO of BRAVA Investments, and a proud daughter of Latinx immigrants. While teaching budding entrepreneurs at Barnard College at Columbia University and searching the globe for investment-worthy startups, she has met or advised thousands of entrepreneurs who’ve gone from zero to scalable business.
  • Author: Nathalie Molina Niño and Sara Grace
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ TarcherPerigee (August 28, 2018)
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0143132202
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0143132202

7. Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot

  • Description: Today’s feminist movement has a glaring blind spot, and paradoxically, it is women. Mainstream feminists rarely talk about meeting basic needs as a feminist issue, argues Mikki Kendall, but food insecurity, access to quality education, safe neighborhoods, a living wage, and medical care are all feminist issues. All too often, however, the focus is not on basic survival for the many, but on increasing privilege for the few.
  • Author: Mikki Kendall
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin Books (February 23, 2021)
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0525560564
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0525560562


1. The Hidden Palace: A Novel of the Golem and the Jinni

  • Description: In this enthralling historical epic, set in New York City and the Middle East in the years leading to World War I— the long-awaited follow-up to the acclaimed New York Times bestseller The Golem and the Jinni—Helene Wecker revisits her beloved characters Chava and Ahmad as they confront unexpected new challenges in a rapidly changing human world.
  • Author: Helene Wecker
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Harper (June 8, 2021)
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0062468715
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0062468710

2. Mary Jane: A Novel

  • Description: Almost Famous meets Daisy Jones & The Six in this “delightful” (New York Times Book Review) novel about a fourteen-year-old girl’s coming of age in 1970s Baltimore, caught between her straight-laced family and the progressive family she nannies for—who happen to be secretly hiding a famous rock star and his movie star wife for the summer.
  • Author: Jessica Anya Blau
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Custom House (May 11, 2021)
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0063052296
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0063052291

“My local bookstore [A Novel Idea on Passyunk] had just received “The Hidden Palace” by @helenewecker when I went to pick up “Mary Jane” by @JessicaAnyaBlau! Thanks, @anovelideaphl”

Neil Bardhan, executive director of First Person Arts and of Broad Street Review

3. Such a Fun Age

  • Description: A striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice, Such a Fun Age is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both.
  • Author: Kiley Reid
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ G.P. Putnam’s Sons; Reissue edition (December 31, 2019)
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 052554190X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0525541905

4. Where the Crawdads Sing

  • Description: Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
  • Author: Delia Owens
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ G.P. Putnam’s Sons (March 30, 2021)
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0735219109
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0735219106

5. The Water Dancer

  • Description: This is the dramatic story of an atrocity inflicted on generations of women, men, and children—the violent and capricious separation of families—and the war they waged to simply make lives with the people they loved. Written by one of today’s most exciting thinkers and writers, The Water Dancer is a propulsive, transcendent work that restores the humanity of those from whom everything was stolen.
  • Author: Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ One World (November 17, 2020)
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0399590617
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0399590610

“Just ordered my [3] summer reads from @Bookshop_Org supporting @harriettsbooks! Excited to dive into these.”

Valerie Johnson, director of institutional advancement at Pathways to Housing PA, and columnist

6. The Sympathizer

  • Description: The winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as seven other awards, The Sympathizer is one of the most acclaimed books of the twenty-first century. With the pace and suspense of a thriller and prose that has been compared to Graham Greene and Vladimir Nabokov, The Sympathizer is a sweeping epic of love and betrayal.
  • Author: Viet Thanh Nguyen
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Grove Press; Reprint edition (April 12, 2016)
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0802124941
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0802124944

7. The Overstory

  • Description: The Overstory, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of―and paean to―the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers’s twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
  • Author: Richard Powers
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (April 2, 2019)
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 039335668X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0393356687

“Summer is for fiction. I’m moving through Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer, and excited to dig into Richard Powers’ The Overstory next.”

Stephen Babcock, assistant editor at

And my picks — because summer deserves  no less than luminous prose:

8. Monkey Boy

  • Description: Francisco Goldman’s first novel since his acclaimed, nationally bestselling Say Her Name (winner of the Prix Femina étranger), Monkey Boy is a sweeping story about the impact of divided identity― whether Jewish/Catholic, white/brown, native/expat―and one misfit’s quest to heal his damaged past and find love.
  • Author: Francisco Goldman
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Grove Press (May 4, 2021)
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 080215767X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0802157676

9. Whereabouts

  • Description: This is the first novel Lahiri has written in Italian and translated into English. The reader will find the qualities that make Lahiri’s work so beloved: deep intelligence and feeling, richly textured physical and emotional landscapes, and a poetics of dislocation. But Whereabouts, brimming with the impulse to cross barriers, also signals a bold shift of style and sensibility. By grafting herself onto a new literary language, Lahiri has pushed herself to a new level of artistic achievement.
  • Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Knopf; 1st Edition (April 27, 2021)
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0593318315
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593318317



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