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Tenth Annual PAN Summer Reading List

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Ariel Burch Novak
Director | Boston, MA
  • Blog
  • Culture/Agency Life

Tenth Annual PAN Summer Reading List

Ariel Burch Novak
Director | Boston, MA

With the approach of Memorial Day and my personal favorite PAN benefit, Summer Fridays, it’s also time for another PAN annual tradition: The Summer Reading List, now in its tenth year. As always, the list features books that PAN employees have loved and recommended or those that they’re excited to read this summer.

One of my favorite things about reading is being able to gain a glimpse of someone else’s experience and perspective. The Summer Reading List includes a variety of books from diverse authors, covering a wide range of topics. And, the list isn’t our only forum to get together and join in conversation.

Through PAN’s DEI Discussion Group, each month, the PANid committee picks a piece of content – whether it’s a book, film, article, video or documentary – that offers insights into a diverse perspective and experience. Employees are encouraged to read/view the content on their own prior to the monthly discussion group, where we come together virtually to have a conversation in a safe and inclusive space. PANid members lead the discussion with thoughtful questions about how the content may have changed people’s perspectives, taught them something new, and reinforced or challenged certain beliefs about a particular community or lived experience.

To date, content has focused on Black, LGBTQIA, AAPI, Latinx and other experiences, and we continue to search for diverse perspectives and content that will continue to further our education and broaden our understanding of experiences and cultures outside of our own. Favorite PAN DEI Discussion Group books (some of which have been included on prior Summer Reading Lists) include:

  • Such A Fun Age, the debut novel by Kiley Reid and instant New York Times Bestseller, is an engaging story about race and privilege.
  • Natives by Akala, which sparked conversation about race and class history across our US and UK offices.
  • Just Mercy, the memoir by Bryan Stevenson, lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiativea legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need within our criminal justice.

Read on for the full 2021 Summer Reading List, and bookmark your next page-turner:

summer 2021 reading listt

Summer 2021 Reading List

Contemporary Fiction

This tends to be the favorite genre among PAN staff each year and there are many new releases to look forward to this summer.

  • Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo. “This is an amazing book that I just finished. It’s a beautiful and raw novel that offers perspective on the Dominican culture”– Meg Dedyne, Senior Account Executive, Chicago

“This is an amazing book that I just finished. It’s a beautiful and raw novel that offers perspective on the Dominican culture”– Meg Dedyne, Senior Account Executive, Chicago

  • Klara and The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. I just wrapped up this book and recommend it for everyone. It tells a story about love, our reliance on technology, and the confines of modern society, all through the eyes of a robotic “Artificial Friend” – but somehow is beautiful and moving rather than creepy and Black Mirror-esque (although I do love Black Mirror!).
  • Anxious People by Fredrik Backman is my other pick for the year. About an accidental hostage situation at an apartment open house, it’s literally laugh-out-loud funny, but hides some deep insights and cleverly interwoven story lines beneath its glossy beach read exterior.
  • Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, an instant New York Times and USA Today bestseller that centers around the question “What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?”
  • Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah, a “tearjerker” about love, loss and friendship that PAN readers enjoyed even more than the Netflix series.
  • Infinite Country by Patricia Engel, a highly anticipated novel in which Engel, a dual citizen and the daughter of Colombian immigrants, explores a family torn apart by war and immigration.
  • Imposter Syndrome by Kathy Wang will be released just in time for Memorial Day weekend. It’s a satire on Silicon Valley, written from the perspective of a BIPOC narrator.

Mysteries and Thrillers

Always a PAN favorite genre, we have several choices with fast-moving plots and intrigue.

  • The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. “I don’t usually love mystery books, but I literally read this one in about 3 hours. I couldn’t put it down! It would be a great beach read. Some of the reviews say it’s a bit predictable, but I did not see the twists coming. Wow!”Kally Lavoie, Senior Account Executive, Boston

“I don’t usually love mystery books, but I literally read this one in about 3 hours. I couldn’t put it down! It would be a great beach read. Some of the reviews say it’s a bit predictable, but I did not see the twists coming. Wow!” – Kally Lavoie, Senior Account Executive, Boston

  • Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz, a who-done-it double feature with a novel-within-a-novel framework.
  • Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala puts a spicy spin on the murder mystery genre, blending it with Filipino-American food and culture.
  • The Chain by Adrian McKinty, a quick-read suspense thriller with a clever plotline that puts readers right into the action.

Historical Fiction

We always have a few picks for Historical Fiction, one of my favorite type of books to bring to the beach.

  • Outlawed by Anna North, a Wild West adventure story of a fugitive girl, billed as The Crucible meets True Grit.
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab crosses genres as well as centuries and continents following the life of a woman who is cursed to live forever but be forgotten by everyone she meets.

History, Non-Fiction and Memoirs

Rounding out our list are non-fiction books on a wide range of topics.

  • The Splendid and The Vile by Erik Larson. “Winston Churchill has always been a fascinating historical figure for how we faced real adversity with resilience and swagger. Given what we’ve all been through, I thought it would be useful to have a lot of both going into this summer.” – Adam Novak, VP, Boston

“Winston Churchill has always been a fascinating historical figure for how we faced real adversity with resilience and swagger. Given what we’ve all been through, I thought it would be useful to have a lot of both going into this summer.” – Adam Novak, VP, Boston

  • Open Me Carefully, edited by Ellen Louise Hart and Martha Nell Smith. “It’s a compilation of Emily Dickinson’s love letters and poems to Susan Huntington Dickinson (who was also her sister-in-law). It’s extremely interesting and beautiful to see her words and passion poor out onto the page, and how vulnerable and honest she was with Sue – in the 1800s no less! Sue is largely considered to be Emily’s muse, and who she wrote most of her poetry for and about. 19th century queers for the win!”Marki Conway, Director, Boston

“It’s a compilation of Emily Dickinson’s love letters and poems to Susan Huntington Dickinson (who was also her sister-in-law). It’s extremely interesting and beautiful to see her words and passion poor out onto the page, and how vulnerable and honest she was with Sue – in the 1800s no less! Sue is largely considered to be Emily’s muse, and who she wrote most of her poetry for and about. 19th century queers for the win!” – Marki Conway, Director, Boston

Business Books

We couldn’t close out a PAN Summer Reading List without a few business and leadership books.

One more note: For ease of viewing, Amazon pages for each book are linked above. But, please shop at your local bookstore if you’re able!

For more inspiration, check out some of our past years’ lists here:

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