2020 ASTHO Summer Reading List

August 06, 2020 | Mattie Quinn

Deciding what book to read is a task in itself. To make things easier, ASTHO’s staff curated a list of page-turning and thought-provoking books guaranteed to be worth your time. There’s something for everyone on our list, whether you're looking for an escape or working on personal and professional growth.

Fiction for Respite

Thirteen Moons by Charles FrazierThirteen Moons by Charles Frazier

Thirteen Moons is a gripping fictional account of the forced relocation of the Cherokee. Frazier is a master at putting his characters ringside at important historical events and exploring their motivations, internal conflicts, and inner turmoil.
Recommended by Karl Ensign, chief of territorial support.




Pachinko by Min Jin LeePachinko by Min Jin Lee

A gorgeous novel that spans multiple generations across Japan and Korea, Pachinko is a tale of complex and passionate characters for the reader seeking historical fiction that doesn’t center on Western voices.
Recommended by Suja Shunmugavelu, senior director of engagement.




My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa MoshfeghMy Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

A darkly funny book about a trust fund baby who decides she’s bored of her pampered life and enlists the help of a comically incompetent therapist, who prescribes her just enough medicine to keep her asleep most of the day. Set in New York City in the year leading up to 9/11, this black comedy is for anyone in the mood for a very long nap.
Recommended by Mattie Quinn, director of public relations.



The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The Shadow of the Wind is a Gothic story set in post-civil war Barcelona. This is a book for book lovers and has everything you might look for in an escapist novel: mystery, romance, murder, and unforgettable characters.
Recommended by Leah Silva, director of state health policy.




Seveneves by Neal StephensonSeveneves by Neal Stephenson

If a post-apocalyptic novel is your preferred way to escape the world, Seveneves is for you. As the end of the world becomes inevitable, countries band together to preserve Earth’s human race in outer space. This thrilling novel is an in-depth exploration of what it would take for humans to live in space.
Recommended by Ariel Brandt Lautman, director of online community engagement.



Non-Fiction for Motivation

Dare to Lead by Brené BrownDare to Lead by Brené Brown

Brené Brown is an expert on leveraging people’s vulnerability for a greater good. In this book, Brown challenges us to rethink what we think we know about being a leader—tropes of status, power, and fancy titles—and tap into empathy and human connection to build braver leaders for these trying times.
Recommended by multiple ASTHO staff members.



How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. KendiHow to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

America is in the midst of an upheaval in advancing civil rights. As the country reckons with its history on race, many argue that it’s not enough to not be racist—one must be actively antiracist. This necessary read for this era builds a blueprint of what an antiracist society could and should look like, and how we can all take a role in making it happen.
Recommended by Mike Fraser, ASTHO CEO.



The Death of Expertise by Tom NicholsThe Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters by Tom Nichols

The internet age has democratized information, but it has also given rise to widespread conspiracy theories and anti-expert sentiment. Nichols explains how this has happened, and how experts in every field can combat this trend and argue for the need for expertise in a functioning, thriving society.
Recommended by Mike Fraser, ASTHO CEO.



So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma OluoSo You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

As many Americans get more comfortable with having uncomfortable conversations around race, Oluo offers a way for Americans to get acquainted with answers to questions they might be too afraid to broach. This book offers a much-needed perspective on the Black Lives Matter movement, microaggressions, white privilege, and more. This is a must-read for anyone seeking to dismantle the racial divide in this country.
Recommended by Kelsey Donnellan, senior analyst of health improvement.



We hope these books spark new ideas and conversations. Happy reading!