Sure, there are plenty of page-turner mysteries and sci-fi doorstops to transport you for hours. Science says you'll get more benefit than you probably think from "guilty pleasure" books. But if you're aiming not just to be absorbed in other worlds but also to learn something useful about this one, Adam Grant has some suggestions for you.
Every few months the star Wharton professor (and best-selling author) comes out with a list of new books he recommends. His latest contains newly released titles to stir your thinking while you work on that tan. Here are five coming out this month.
1. If Nietzsche Were a Narwhal by Justin Gregg
Rarely have I heard of a book with a weirder title, but Grant explains that this book about how animals think is actually as useful as it is interesting. "A dazzling, delightful read on what animal cognition can teach us about our own mental shortcomings," he writes. "I tore through his book in one sitting. I dare you to read it without rethinking some of your basic ideas about intelligence." (It's out August 9.)
2. The Neuroscience of You by Chantel Prat
"Move over, outer space--this book is a stunning tour through inner space. This neuroscientist has a rare, remarkable gift for making neurons sing and dendrites dance. She's written the smartest, clearest, and funniest book I've ever read about the brain," Grant enthuses about The Neuroscience of You. (Out August 2.)
3. What We Owe the Future by Will MacAskill
Grant isn't the only public thinker raving about this book by an Oxford philosopher about our "moral responsibility to do right by our grandchildren's grandchildren." Says Ezra Klein, "This book will change your sense of how grand the sweep of human history could be, where you fit into it, and how much you could do to change it for the better. It's as simple, and as ambitious, as that." (Out August 16.)
4. Longpath by Ari Wallach
Next on the list is another book about long-term thinking (apparently a preoccupation of Grant's at the moment). He explains his second pick on the topic this way: "This book is an antidote to nearsightedness. A futurist offers an actionable guide for planning multiple generations in the future." (Also out August 16.)
5. Both/And Thinking by Wendy Smith and Marianne Lewis
This book by a pair of business school professors is specifically aimed at leaders trying to navigate uncertain times. "Life is full of paradoxes, and too often we ignore them or try to erase them when we should be learning how to manage them. Two top scholars of paradox examine how to embrace tensions and overcome tradeoffs," says Grant. Fellow business writer Tom Peters is more succinct: "This book is, pure and simple, a masterpiece." (Out August 9.)
Happy summer reading!