What to Read: Summer 2018 Edition

Bateman Group’s Brooklyn and San Francisco offices present their recommendations for summer reading.


Bateman Group is, unsurprisingly, an office full of bookworms. A well-read PR professional is a not only a wiz at creative brainstorming and writing but is also more informed about what’s going on in the world. Bateman Group Brooklyn has started a weekly book club with rooftop gatherings because… who doesn’t want an excuse to reread The Half-Blood Prince?

This summer, we’ve found ourselves bonding over books to read on the metro, throw in our carry-on or flip through while beachside. Fiction keeps us going, helps us walk in others’ shoes and develops our imagination and creativity. With nonfiction, we can see into the minds of our idols, learn from someone else’s experience and celebrate the fact that there’s always another way to look at the world. If you’re wondering what to read next, here are some (biased and deeply nerdy) recommendations:

How to Change your Mind by Michael Pollan (Hugh Collins)

Michael Pollan, famous for works like the Omnivore’s Dilemma, takes a sideways turn with How to Change Your Mind, a fascinating work on psychedelic drugs. The book is a mix of science writing, personal history and nature of existence philosophy, all tying back to potent and naturally occurring substances. Pollan visits recovering alcoholics and terminal cancer patients who are using these drugs in controlled, scientific settings to address their different conditions. The results, though preliminary, show stunning potential for psychedelics to improve human lives. Pollan also delves into the story of how these drugs seized national awareness in the mid-20th century, only to be ostracized from mainstream science by the late decades of the century. Fundamentally, the work hinges on the powerful premise that there is always another way to look at the world. Are you an individual making your way, a member of a family striving for the greater good or a bag of genes seeking to reproduce? We all have to choose an approach to the world, but we should always recognize this is a choice and consider what that means as we make our way through life.

All Over the Place by Geraldine DeRuiter (Candice Mayan)

DeRuiter’s travel memoir takes you on a heartfelt and hilarious journey all over the world. Her stories of life, love and adventure remind us just how small we are and provide perspective on overcoming whatever unexpected events life may throw our way. It will make you laugh and cry, and might even inspire you to pack your bags and book your next trip.

The Broken Earth series by N.K. Jemisin (Victoria Butler)

After reading one of her short stories, I got hooked on author N.K. Jemisin (fun fact: she’s W. Kamau Bell’s cousin). As a sci-fi geek, there’s nothing I like more in a book than being completely transported to new worlds — and The Broken Earth series delivers. Set thousands of years in the future, a cast of multi-layered characters — including a group of people who can manipulate Earth’s energy — navigate a divided society shaped by devastating climate change. The story is heart-wrenching, suspenseful and teeters between a sense of admiration for and fear of human nature. Jemisin’s handling of topics like subjugation, racism, scientific ethics and family loyalty is particularly compelling.    

The Falcon of Siam by Axel Aylwen (Sammi Ezrilov)

I’m only about a third of the way through this book, but I really love it. I’m a big fan of historical fiction — and not only is this story informative of 17th-century Thailand, but it’s also packed with the other elements of a great book: a charismatic protagonist, compelling adventure and smart dialogue. I’m pretty in love with Constantine Phaulkon now (don’t tell my boyfriend) and I feel so excited about Thai culture, traditions and the history that brought two sides of the world together. I also recently found out this is the first in a trilogy! Awesome news.

Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance (Danny Pham)

It took me a while, but I recently read Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance, which chronicles the struggles of the author’s life — from growing up middle-class in a small Rust Belt town riddled with extreme poverty and drug issues, to joining The Marines and eventually graduating from Yale Law School. As I read,  I felt the pain he experienced while growing up — which continue to trigger him in his current life with his good job and the support of his wife and kids. A lot resonated with me throughout the book — Vance even had a stint in a communications-related position while serving in The Marines.

Next time you’re deciding which fiction or nonfiction book to bring to the beach, refer to this list of Bateman-Group-approved, heart-wrenching, suspenseful and resonant reads.