We asked students around the Bay Area “What are you reading this summer and why would you recommend this book?” They responded in 150 words or less with their recommendations.

Name: Izzi Tallerico
Age: 20
School: University of Miami
City of Residence: Kentfield

The book I’m reading this summer is called Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. It’s about a young Black lawyer in Alabama working different cases to fight death penalty sentences. I would recommend this book very strongly, especially right now, because it’s a really moving story, and it educates the reader a lot on social injustices. It touches on the struggle of making it as a respected Black attorney in the South, as well as the death penalty in America and how disproportionately it affects Black people. The book spreads awareness on how our criminal justice system directly continues to oppress the Black population in America. It’s so important to become more educated on the topic.

Name: Ruby Lucas
Age: 24
School: UC Berkeley alumni, graduate student at University of Washington
City of Residence: Richmond

For a summer book club with my graduate program cohort, I am reading Dorothy Roberts’ Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty (1997). This book is a necessary read for those interested in exploring Black feminist literature. Roberts’ analysis intersects history, law, politics, and policy to highlight the role policing Black women’s bodies has played in gender and racial oppression in the U.S. The author explores issues such as the convergence of the eugenics and birth control movements in the 1920s; the criminalization of Black mothers through the war on drugs and expanding prison industrial complex; the escalating restrictions on access to abortion following Roe v. Wade, and the coercive sterilization of Black women under government welfare programs. Roberts shows how blaming Black women for structural inequities reinforces the white supremacist, patriarchial, and capitalist regime in the U.S. It is our responsibility to recognize and challenge these systems of oppression to achieve equity and social justice.

Name: Caroline Rafner
Age: 20
School: Southern Methodist University
City of Residence: Kentfield

This summer, I read The American Kingpin by Nick Bilton, which is about the FBI’s take down of an anonymous online drug and arms dealing site called the Silk Road. This book is written from multiple perspectives: the creator of the site, the FBI agent, the ex-girlfriend of the creator and a few more. Having these perspectives unravel the story gives the book a movie-like feel, and it keeps the reader on the edge, wanting to continue to turn the pages and find out what happens next. Not only is it well-written, the plot is fascinatin, and draws upon issues pertaining to human rights while also discussing potential harms and past acts of terrorism.

Name: Shauna Perigo
Age: 23
School: UCLA 2019 alumni
City of Residence: San Francisco

This summer I am reading Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen, a book that discusses the biases of high school history classes in the U.S. Loewen discusses the alienation of Native American, African American, Latino, and female readers of history textbooks caused by the whitewashing of history books. I would recommend this book to others for a number of reasons. First, understanding our country’s real history is so important to learn from our previous mistakes and shape policy in the future (for example, taking advice from previous pandemics in the past to shape the response to the COVID-19 pandemic). Second, this book will help you recognize the biases that have shaped your education. Finally, a greater understanding of the whitewashing of U.S. history is important for the general public to recognize the problems that still lie in America today.

Name: Geary Aubert
Age: 20
School: UCLA
City of Residence: Greenbrae

The book I’m reading is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, and I highly recommend it especially considering the time period we’re in. It helps to change your mindset in a positive way and teaches you how to gain more control over your life in healthy ways. Reading this book helps me a lot with my anxiety in a very realistic way.

Name: Paul Mullins
Age: 20
School: New York University
City of Residence: Tiburon

My summer reading book is The Road by Cormac McCarthy. While I chose to read it for my own enjoyment, it was the darkest and heaviest novel I have ever read. At the same time, it garners an emotion in the reader that not many books have done to me before, which is definitely a good thing. I highly recommend it if you’re ready to not only feel sad and empty, but also hopeful and on the edge of your seat. It’s powerful and moving and reminds you of both the fragility of life and the tenacity of the human race. Give it a read.

Name: Jake Kristy
Age: 21
School: UCLA
City of Residence: Tiburon

I read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Although the book has some dated references, I highly recommend this book for everyone. The book explores various ways in which humans can further their connections with fellow peers. For example, it is important to be an active listener, remember names and talk about what the other person is curious about. I feel like I am a friendly person, and I hope that I seem interesting to people I meet, but this book elaborated on how I can get people to enjoy my company even more. This book is more relevant than it ever was before, especially in America with our current leader.

Name: Elia Chou
Age: 20
School: Wake Forest University
City of Residence: Corte Madera

I’m reading Michelle Obama’s autobiography Becoming, in which she describes her childhood on the South Side of Chicago, her education and career and, later, her family’s move to the White House after her husband’s presidential election. I would recommend this book to others not only because it is well written and inspirational, but also because it provides a personal story that sheds light on many of the issues we are dealing with in society today regarding racism, poverty, and inequality.