When the temperature rises, thoughts of days at the lake, the beach, in the backyard, or wherever lying under a big umbrella is a sublime thing to do come readily to mind. After all, what beats slathering on coconut-scented SPF 40 sunscreen and diving headlong into an icy cold Arnold Palmer—with a great summer read or podcast, of course! You have every excuse to do so, as scientific research shows that reading offers many mental and emotional benefits as we age. Similarly, audiobooks have been seen to boost elderly mental health.
With the summer solstice, curated sources such as The New York Times and Goodreads, book critics, and other literary pundits emerge with their list of recommended “beach reads.” But whatever you choose to call them, and in whatever season you choose to read, reading and listening open the universe to us—same as when we were children. As we age, no doubt taking in lots of stimulating information helps keep the cognitive juices flowing.
Audiobooks? Amazon Kindle? Kobo Libra? Apple iPad? Barnes & Noble Nook? Or for purists, the woody smell and grainy texture of a real book can never be replaced by technology—even at the beach. For them, page-turning paperbacks might just be synonymous with passion fruit popsicles. But whatever your choice, there’s no such thing as too much of a good read—or listen. Whether you prefer fiction or nonfiction, or want to lift the top of your head off with an intense podcast that makes you see the world in a different way, take stock and stock up on the following to make the beginning, middle, and end of summer 2022 all add up to the summer to remember.
And They Called It Camelot: A Novel of Jacqueline Kennedy Bouvier Onassis by Stephanie Marie Thornton, Berkley
A deep narrative offering a far more intimate portrait of Jackie’s life than may be found in other books.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Balzer & Bray
Intense dialogue and masterfully drawn characters make this book about a black teenaged girl, living in a diverse neighborhood while attending a privileged white school, who witnesses the death of an unarmed black man at the hands of the police.
The Seaplane on Final Approach by Rebecca Rukeyeser, Doubleday
A recent high school dropout journeys to Kodiak, Alaska, where she lands at a remote Alaskan resort, trying to win the heart of an Alaskan fisherman amidst the untamed wilderness of the region and her own heart.
Ordinary Monsters by J.M. Miro, Flatiron Books
The first book in Miro’s The Talent Trilogy, the story is set in Victorian London where two children with mysterious powers are hunted by a figure of darkness: a man made of smoke.
Funny Farm: My Unexpected Life With 600 Rescue Animals by Laura Zaleski, St. Martin’s Press
The story of Annie McNulty, Laurie’s mother, who fled an abusive marriage with three children and no skills, money, or resources. She acquired hundreds of abandoned animals along the way, quietly inspiring her daughter to open a rescue which she eventually did on a 15-acre farm in rural New Jersey. Though her mother died two weeks before moving day in 2001, Annie’s legacy continues.
Freezing Order: A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath by Bill Browder, Simon & Schuster
Following his New York Times bestseller Red Notice, Browder chronicles the Moscow jail beating death of his young Russian lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, seeking justice for the killers. First step of the mission was to uncover who was behind the $230 million tax refund scheme over which Magnitsky was murdered. Browder and his team tracked the money as it was laundered out Russia though the Baltics and Cypress, onto Western Europe and the Americas, discovering none other than Vladimir Putin as a beneficiary of the crime.
Rickey: The Life and Legend of An American Original by Howard Bryant, Mariner Books
Written by the author of The Last Hero: The Life of Henry Aaron, this is the definitive biography of epic Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson, whose five decades in baseball reflect the nation’s evolving, always controversial view of race in sports and America.
Watergate: A New History by Garrett M. Graff, Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster
Kirkus Reviews calls it “the best and fullest account of the crisis, one unlikely to be surpassed anytime soon…,” dissecting the full scope of the scandal through the lens of politicians, journalists, investigators, and informants.
Sounds Like a Cult (All Things Comedy) with Amanda Montell and Isabela Medina-Mate, All Things Comedy Network
Using a different cultural element in each episode (minimalism; Trader Joe’s; theater kids; etc.), the hosts compare it to the framework of a cult. The podcast functions as an extension of Montell’s book Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism, which explores language’s integral connection to cultlike dynamics.
Dead Eyes with Connor Ratliff, Headgum
The actor/comedian endeavors to solve a mystery that has plagued him for 20 years: why Executive Producer Tom Hanks fired him from the cast of Band of Brothers. One episode even includes an interview with perpetrator Hanks.
Crypto Island with PJ Vogt, Reply All
Billed as “the most formalistically exciting new narrative podcast that’s come out in a while,” the “utterly bonkers universe” of crypto is deftly filleted in take no prisoners style.
Ghost Church with Jamie Loftus, iHeart Media and Cool Zone Media
The latest project from Jamie Loftus melds together two of the universe’s greatest provocations: (1) Can the living ever speak with the dead? and (2) Why does everything peculiar seem to reside in Florida? Ghost Church follows the comedian to Cassadaga, a town halfway between Orlando and Daytona Beach, known as the “Psychic Capital of the World,” to learn more about the history and contemporary state of American spiritualism.
Whatever your informational cup of tea (or iced tea), nothing replaces the summer joys of broadening your horizons in all kinds of formats for years to come.
“2022 Summer Reads and Listens for Seniors,” written by Beth Herman, Amada blog contributor.