One of the enduring pleasures of getting away on vacation is having the time and space to get completely absorbed in a truly great book. But which should you pack in your suitcase?

You could opt for serious and mind-nourishing business reads, but if you're looking to clear your head of professional worries, something a little more offbeat might be in order. If that sounds like what you're after, a jumbo list of summer reading recommendations from former TED speakers that recently appeared on the TED blog is definitely for you.

Subdivided into different summer-appropriate categories like books for long-haul flights and titles for those on staycation, the list also includes a section offering sometimes strange but always interesting ideas for beach reads. Here they are (links on recommenders' names are to their TED talk in case you're interested):

1. What a Fish Knows by Jonathan Balcombe

What do you have in common with a fish? A lot more than you might think, according to this book by animal behavior expert Jonathan Balcombe, which was recommended by marine biologist David Gruber. Apparently it reveals, "that fish share predilections to music types, have dysfunctional family interactions and can be finicky gourmands." Who wouldn't get a kick out of learning this sort of thing while staring out at the sea?

2 Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

"This is the book I've read in the past 18 months that I've enjoyed the most," said Google X boss Astro Teller, offering a simple but extremely compelling explanation for his recommendation.

3. The Summer Book by Tove Jansson

The title of this one kind of gives it away as to why it might make a great beach read, but if you're looking for a more in-depth explanation, Finnish computer programmer Linda Liukas, who recommended it, explains that it's "the quintessential celebration of summer in Scandinavia--22 vignettes of a girl and a grandmother on an island."

4. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

Why does data scientist Riccardo Sabatini suggests you pack this classic in your beach bag? "Pirsig takes you on a wonderful adventure, trying to define the one elusive thing impossible to quantify with numbers: quality," he explains.

5. Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Evolutionary biologist Prosanta Chakrabarty praises Lab Girl as a rare, beautifully written memoir by a scientist. Geochemist Jahren "takes us through her childhood and reminds us how one can fall in love with science and nature and turn it into a successful and fulfilling career," notes Chakrabarty.

6. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

You might be planning to barely leave your lounge chair for your entire vacation, but that doesn't mean you can't at least read about people exercising. This pick is "a great adventure woven with fascinating details about running and the human ability to achieve far more than we can possibly imagine," explains cave diver Jill Heinerth, who claims that "you won't be able to put it down."

7. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

A book about cancer doesn't immediately sound like an ideal vacation read, but Stanford University Medical School scientist Russ Altman insists this "amazing and very accessible story about a woman with cancer, her family, and the cells from her cancer that have revolutionized aspects of biological research and our understanding of cancer" is well worth a read despite it's less-than-sunny subject matter.

8. River-Horse by William Least Heat-Moon

If you're looking to read about adventure this holiday, River-Horse sounds perfect for you. "This race against time, and winter weather, is an attempt to travel across the country in a relatively fragile 25-foot outboard-powered boat navigating almost entirely on America's rivers," explains journalist Stephen Petranek.

What book would you recommend to fellow entrepreneurs looking for something to devour while they're sitting in the sun this summer?

Published on: Jul 29, 2016
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