Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog

Read On…

By Peggy O’Brien


In our June issue of BardNotes, I posed four questions to y’all.  Three of them were requesting your advice about our blog and some new directions it might take.  I snuck in the fourth question, purely for my own selfish purpose.  I asked you what I should read this summer.

Summer Reading. (Image: James Brantley)
Summer Reading. (Image: James Brantley)


Thanks to the many, many of you who sent responses to some or all of the questions.  They were wildly helpful.  We’ll be back in a bit about the blog, but for now . . . the books you recommended!   A completely fabulous list.  And since many of you said, “Send us the list!”  we’re doing just that.  In all, 126 recommendations.  Data point that is amazing to me:  only two titles were recommended by more than one of you.  You are a fascinating and eclectic group of readers!  Two or three of you recommended All The Light We Cannot See and Americanah.


In this blog post, you’ll find the first half of the list.  In our next post, the rest of the list plus a bonus.  We got so excited about your recommendations that we decided to ask our squad of summer interns–two undergrads, a recent high school grad starting college next month, and a rising high school junior–for their reading recs too.


We’re having kind of a wild summer here.  Hope yours is restorative and big fun.


A Brief History of Time Stephen Hawking
A Dramatic Approach to Reading Comprehension Lenore Kelner and
Rosalind Flynn
A Moveable Feast Ernest Hemingway
A Spool of Blue Thread Anne Tyler
A Tale for the Time Being Ruth Ozeki
All Quiet on the Western Front Erich Maria Remarque
All the Light We Cannot See Anthony Doerr
Allen Quartermain H. Rider Haggard
Americanah Chimamanda Ngozi
Anything by: Adriana Trigiani
Anything by: Anne Michaels
Anything by: Liane Moriarty
Audition Barbara Walters
Beautiful Ruins Jess Walter
Bel Canto Ann Patchett
Belzhar Meg Wolitzer
Beyond the Five Paragraph Essay Kimberly Campbell and
Kristi Latimer
Black Cherries Grace Coates
Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love Wendy Ruderman and
Barbara Laker
Cat’s Cradle Lurt Vonnegut
Ceremony Leslie Silko
Church of Marvels Leslie Parry
Dead Wake Erik Larsen
Divergent series Veronica Roth
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future Ashlee Vance
Euphoria Lily King
Flavia de Luce series Alan Bradley
Footlights on the Prairie Jere Mickel
Garbage Land Elizabeth Royte
Gifts from the Sea Anne Morrow Lindberg
God Help the Child Toni Morrison
Grasshopper Jungle Andrew Smith
Half a Yellow Sun Chimamanda Ngozi
Handling Sin Michael Malone
Hilary Tamar mysteries Sarah Caudwell
History of the Rain Niall Williams
Human Voices Penelope Fitzgerald
I Will Always Write Back Caitlin Alifirenka, Martin
Ganda, and Liz Welch
I, Iago Nicole Galland
I’ll Give you the Sun Jandy Nelson
In the Light of What We Know Zia Rahman
In the Woods Tana French
Interpreter of Maladies Jhumpa Lahiri
Jim Henson: The Biography Brian Jay Jones
King Solomon’s Mines H. Rider Haggard
Kristin Lavransdatter Trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter
Let the Great World Spin Colum McCann
Looking for Alaska John Green
Love Medicine Louise Erdrich
Lullabies for Little Criminals Heather O’Neill
March Geraldine Brooks
Middlemarch George Eliot
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore Robin Sloan
My Life Bill Clinton
My Promised Land Ari Shavit
My Salinger Year Joanna Rakoff
My Year of Meats Ruth Ozeki
Night Circus Erin Morgenstern
Nine Parts of Desire Geraldine Brooks
Olives: Poems A.E. Stallings
One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd Jim Fergus
Outlander Diana Gabaldon


Peggy O’Brien is the Director of Education at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Follow her on Twitter at @obrienfolger or send her an email at pobrien@folger.edu.