Readers share their summer book picks

illustration of person reading a book in a hammock

During the rest of the year, students, faculty and staff lug around heavy books about literary theory, economics or U.S. history on their way to class or the local coffee shop.

But summer is different. Summer is the time for leisure reading.

Beginning this week, we ask UIC readers for their summer reading recommendations. Look for more in coming weeks online or on UIC News Facebook and send your picks to


Paul Brandt-Rauf, dean, School of Public Health 

Rauf’s list includes some heavyweights, like Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature, which debunks myths about humankind’s inherent need for violence. “We are a violent species,” Rauf said, “but definitely improving.”

Also on Rauf’s list: The Price of Inequality by Joe Stiglitz, “because it explains why wealth inequality is bad for everyone.”

His favorite? Death and the Afterlife by philosopher Samuel Scheffler, because “it shows us why we are indebted to future generations.”


Micki Leventhal, editor of AtLAS magazine and associate director of development communications, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

In between Be-Moved dance classes, yoga, theater, music concerts and movies, Leventhal is enjoying The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates, set in early 20th century Princeton, New Jersey.

“It blends a well-researched historical novel and magical realism in a massive story with fabulous character development,” Leventhal said.

Her fiction recommendation is Alex Shakar’s Luminarium and The Savage Girl. Nonfiction pick is Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.


Edward Drogos, communications and social media assistant, Office of the Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences 

Since his recent graduation, Drogos has time to relax and read for fun. He started Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican over the July 4 weekend, “a dark, but humorous, novel which follows three freshman students as they make their way through boarding school.”

He recommends J.K. Rowling’s mystery novels written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm. “I was not originally a fan of crime fiction, but this series seems to be opening the door.”

Another favorite: Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City. “It’s a book I reread about once a year.”

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