Now that summer is almost here, you may be thinking of more than just reading class assignments. To help you, our law faculty has offered some summer reading suggestions. Whether you like non-fiction or thrillers or something in between, we hope you’ll find something to interest you here. (And for more suggestions, see our posts from previous years: 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014.)
Find something you like? Do you want to tell us about it? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies detail the reign of Henry VIII from the perspective of Henry’s chief minister, Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell, a lawyer, rose from common birth to become one of Henry’s most trusted advisors and facilitated Henry’s split from the Catholic church, his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, his marriage to Anne Boleyn, and, ultimately, her execution for treason and heresy.
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Capote’s most famous work, In Cold Blood, tells the true story of the murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb Kansas in 1959. Capote spent six years writing the book, which examines the relationship between the killers, Dick Hickock and Perry Smith, and the events in their lives that ultimately led them to commit the brutal crime.
The World According to Garp by John Irving
John Irving’s Garp, both tragic and comedic, is the story of the only child of feminist icon Jenny Fields and the people (or, more appropriately, characters) around him. Garp is difficult to summarize; you must read it for yourself. Few books have impacted me in the way that Garp and Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany have.
The Vatican Diaries by John Thavis
It’s a fascinating book in the way that “behind the scenes” books about institutions are fascinating, but on an grander level, because this is the Vatican. This is a place where a proposed parking lot uncovers priceless artifacts, and where the Pope sends a team of scientists in under cover of darkness to verify that St. Paul is really buried in St. Paul’s tomb. It’s incredibly interesting.
The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness by Elyn Saks
Professor of Law, Psychology and Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, Professor Saks delivered GSU College of Law’s Miller lecture in Fall 2014. Professor Saks’s memoir details her life with chronic schizophrenia, allowing the reader to feel her psychotic episodes, including those she experienced as a law student. Professor Saks book validates that people with significant mental illness can achieve personal and professional success.
The short film, The Russian Ark, is enjoyable, though nostalgic in a way that I now doubt was possible for the aristocrats who endured the death rattle of the Romanovs. Leon Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution is showing me why. The brilliance of Trotsky’s prose and humor equals Mark Twain’s, but he takes his responsibility as an historian with the gravest seriousness. Trotsky does not try to delude himself or anyone else by claiming to have adopted a disinterested viewpoint for the task. In fact, he indirectly shows how any such viewpoint conceals the heart of things. The book also stimulates the thought that our time, too, shows signs of becoming one in which “the antagonisms of society reach their highest tension.”
I recently finished Tomorrow’s Lawyers by Richard Susskind and would strongly recommend reading it to anyone planning on being an attorney over the next 10-30 years. This very short book (only 165 pages) provides lots of food for thought about the future of legal practice and education.
The Lawyer Myth: A Defense of the American Legal Profession by Rennard Strickland and Frank T. Read
Interesting discussion and evaluation of some of the criticisms of our profession.
Lauren Sudeall Lucas
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
Bryan Stevenson is not just a remarkable lawyer, but a talented writer and storyteller. His memoir will leave you with a sense of how deeply flawed our criminal justice system is, but also inspired by those working in the struggle against injustice. Stevenson’s work is a shining example of the legal profession at its hardest working and its best.
The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead: Dos and Don’ts of Right Behavior, Tough Thinking, Clear Writing, and Living a Good Life by Charles A. Murray provides invaluable insight into the opinions and thought processes of many people you will encounter in your legal career (think senior partners and judges, for example). Murray covers a wide variety of topics, from writing a professional email to piercings and clothing choices, and from when to swear and when not to suck up to someone. In short, Murray wants you to know how and why people you encounter as a professional adult may be judging you and your behavior. You may not always agree with him — if fact, that’s rather the crux of the book — but it’s also an opportunity to see yourself through someone else’s eyes. This summary probably sounds a bit curmudgeonly itself, but this short, concise book is well worth the time.
And then for something completely different, I can also recommend Moonraker by Ian Fleming. The third James Bond novel sees our hero infiltrating a rocket program run by the mysterious Sir Hugo Drax. I’ve been slowly listening to the Bond novels, in part because of the excellent set of readers, and assumed this one would be as redonkulous as the movie version, but it was delightfully fun instead. High stakes card games! A man without a past! Racing against the clock! Enjoy.
I’ve recently read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. I enjoyed both very much, although All the Light We Cannot See is a much more serious and well-written book. I’ve also read The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and The Stranger by Harlan Coben, both of which are good “beach reads.”
I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes is one of the best books I have read in a while. It is a spy thriller, but far from the usual genre. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it is a compelling read.
10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress, without Losing my Edge, and Found Self-Help that Actually Works describes ABS News correspondent Dan Harris’s journey after experiencing a panic attack on national television toward mindfulness meditation. He goes into full journalistic mode in his exploration, bringing along his skepticism and self-criticism, so it is unlike other self-help books (a genre that usually does not end up on my reading list).