Summer Readin’ Had Me a Blast

Open books with pencils marking the place lay stacked on each other

At Minerva, summer relaxation often includes a good book or six. And since summer finally decided to show up in Seattle, we agreed it was time to release our summer reading list. Here are a few of Minerva’s suggestions, wrapped together with the things we learned while reading them.



Feminists aren’t born, they’re made. Dear Ijeawele or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a must-read for parents. Chimamanda masterfully describes how and why to raise feminist kids. She wrote this book for a friend and it provides an urgent, intimate plea to embrace feminism to make the world a more understanding, empathetic, and equitable place.



Vicarious living can be inspiring. The ability to walk a mile in someone’s shoes – and learn something from the experience – is easier when you can get into her head through a well-written memoir.


Educated, Tara Westover’s personal account of going from a fundamentalist, survivalist Mormon family (led by a paranoid, deranged father) to studying at Cambridge, is incredible. We do not casually use the word resilient but damn she is. And her enduring love for her family—even if she profoundly disagrees with them—is inspiring, deeply sad, and instructive for those who find themselves separated from loved ones by an ideological chasm.


Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming gives us an inside look at how our former First Lady became the powerhouse role model she is. One anecdote from the book stood out as a good glimpse into the Obamas’ relationship and the challenge of being married to someone grappling with the concerns of a nation: Early on in their relationship, she woke up in the middle of the night to find her husband staring at the ceiling, deep in thought. Afraid he was troubled by something in their relationship, she asked him what was wrong. He looked at her and said, “Oh, I was just thinking about income inequality.” The book is an inspirational story about the importance of knowing your value, standing your ground in relationships and life, and understanding that what you hope to accomplish can’t come at the cost of personal relationships and integrity.


In Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come: An Introvert’s Year of Living Dangerously, Jessica Pan describes her introverted launch into a year-long experiment of extroverted living. She tries her hand at things that many introverts fear more than death: stand-up comedy, public speaking, speed dating, improv classes, and a solo vacation. Through these harrowing experiences, she learns a lot about the value of bravely challenging what is true about ourselves and how we can let new experiences rewrite our stories.



Non-fiction can be entertaining… It’s not all life-lessons, business skills, and hard-charging journalism, though that’s part of it. Our nonfiction choices prove these books can also be fun to read.


John Carreyou’s Bad Blood about the downfall of the high-flying, blood-testing start-up Theranos reads like a heart-pounding thriller, even though you know how it will end. Hearing how this Wall Street Journal reporter blew the lid off Theranos’ lies makes for a fantastic read. There are also business leaders’ lessons here: Don’t over-promise and under-deliver. Treat your employees with respect and honesty. Oh, and don’t be a sociopath.


If you’re the type of person who loves to have conversations with straight-shooting and wryly humorous elderly people (if not, see the above note on not being a sociopath), you’ll love No Time to Spare, a collection of essays by now-deceased writer Ursula Le Guin. Le Guin was best known for her legendary ability to not just spin a tale, but to create the land in which that tale unfolds. In this collection of essays she wrote while in her 80s, she brings poignant insights about life from a perspective deeply undervalued in our youth-worshipping culture: old age. From adopting a cat to brutally honest commentary on facing the loss of health and mobility, Le Guin’s insights are timeless, at times hilarious, and always heart-opening.



…and fiction can be instructive. Superb fiction writing offers the opportunity to live in a different world, at least for a short time. This is not just fun; it can also provide important lessons and perspectives – especially if we’re thrust into a world very different than our own.


In Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri describes the intimate events of immigrant family life, from living in a foreign land to returning to a parents’ home or place of origin.  This collection of short stories gives people who aren’t recent immigrants a look into the lives of those who are.  Finding love, losing a loved one, longing for home are the recurring themes that make this book so relatable – no matter where you’re from.


Margaret Atwood poignantly describes a dystopian world in which the deterioration of women’s rights leads to unthinkable abuses in The Handmaid’s Tale. Many have extolled the book’s – and now Hulu Original series’ – prescience as we fight to salvage hard-won women’s rights in the U.S. and around the world. Her Oryx and Crake three-part series is similarly prescient, but in this series, Atwood covers the perils of advancing corporate-owned science without proper regulation in place.


From extremist Christian religious groups splicing together the DNA of lamb and lion so that the two can lay down as one and bring about Christ’s return to Earth, to the creation of a super-intelligent pig species that began as a noble effort to grow human transplant tissue and ends with the pigs as human’s greatest predator, the series creatively gives insight into a future where social class divides, profit is king, and progress is unregulated. Despite the fantastical scenarios, Atwood’s characters are undeniably human and relatable. She makes seeing yourself in this world just a little too easy – and the result is terrifying. Reading this story may motivate you to care more about protecting the delicate ecological systems on which we all depend.



That’s all for our Minerva summer reading list. We hope you enjoy and have a great summer. These books – and way too much more – can be purchased online through our friendly local bookstore Or for a change of pace, try ordering from our friends at Elliott Bay Book Company or Powell’s.

About The Author

Minerva Strategies

Minerva Strategies

The Minerva team has decades of experience working with nonprofits, foundations, and values-driven companies. Minerva also partners with experts—trusted designers, web developers, global communications professionals, and others—who share our excitement for creating positive social change. Through these partnerships, we can build a team that is tailored to your needs. Learn more about who we are or what we do.