OHP Summer Reading List

by Abby Whelan

As the school year winds down and comes to a close, Office of Health Promotion is here to help you find some relaxing and motivational reads to balance your life and find inspiration throughout the summer months! Check out these highly recommended books that cover topics ranging from positivity and optimism, sleep and self help, living alongside African wildlife, and the ultimate underdog comeback.

1. Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

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A story of perseverance and resilience, Boys in the Boat is about an American crew team who found themselves competing against Nazi Germany in the Berlin Olympics. Find out how this rookie group of college athletes from Washington proved on an international Olympic stage just how far some hard work and inner strength will truly take you!

2. Presence by Amy Cuddy

If you have ever viewed Harvard professor Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on power posing and communicating confidence and found it truly interesting, this is most definitely the book for you! Cuddy’s book inspires the reader to grow into your boldest self and take on those challenges that at first may seem to tower over you.

3. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell


Wondering about what your personal “key to success” might be? Attempting to tap into your natural talents while also willing to put in the hours to achieve greatness? Malcolm Gladwell offers advice and presents the facts about how every individual can make the most of their own personal situation, regardless of where you come from and who you are.

4. The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington


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For those who have in the past dismissed or not appreciated a good night’s sleep, here is the book that may just change your mind! In this fast-paced, high stress world today, Huffington argues that people are forgetting about the importance and the hidden power that can be found in a good night’s sleep. Huffington goes on to offer insight and some tips for maximizing and optimizing your “zzz’s”, so read up and enjoy!  

5. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi


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Written as a memoir of his own life by surgeon Paul Kalanithi, this sentimental re-telling of his life, his experience with lung cancer, and his career as a surgeon is sure to both tug on your heartstrings and maybe illicit a few tears. However, despite the tragedy, this tale of a man who made the most of his life is one that ultimately inspires all.

6. Love, Life, and Elephants by Dame Daphne Sheldrick


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For all of the animal lovers out there, this woman shows us how love for all of earth’s creatures can help us to learn more about life than we ever knew! Written by Dame Daphne Sheldrick, who moved from Scotland to Africa with her family, she details her life experiences growing up next to, then eventually caring for, different types of African wildlife.

7. The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama, Desmond TuTu, Douglas Carlton Adams


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Some of the happiest people in the world are those people who have seen incredible hardship and experienced violent oppression. Learn how noble peace prize winners the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have dealt with all sorts of obstacles, yet still have managed to maintain positive outlooks and express kindness and generosity in their daily lives. This book is so heartwarming and is sure to put a smile on your face!

8. Mind Gym by Gary Mack, David Casstevens

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If you are looking for some motivation to jump start a new workout routine, or seeking to overcome a challenge in your athletic career, this book is perfect for you! A sports psychology consultant, Gary Mack details the ways in which you can change or build your mindset to be a help rather than a hindrance to your athletic performance. Proving to all types of athletes that your mind is a muscle and also needs training is the name of the game!

9. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Hillbilly Elegy is an autobiography written by J.D. Vance, who writes about his family’s experience starting out in Appalachia and details his journey to Ivy League school Yale University. A lifetime of over overcoming challenges and a hugely impressive display of resilience, Vance explains how he bounced back from these circumstances and how they still fit into his life today.

10. Swimmer Among the Stars by Kanishk Tharoor

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A bit different from our other recommendations, this book is a compilation of short stories that will enchant and engage the readers. Written creatively and with a sort of internationally adventurous feel, this book uses each story to compliment each other and comment on events and on goings of our world past, present, and even future.

11. Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder


In this amazing true tale of Dr. Paul Farmer, Kidder takes the reader along with Farmer to all corners of the world as he travels around fighting infectious disease. With numerous job titles, including Harvard professor, and an individual that makes time for house calls in Boston, this story hits close to home and shows us that we, as individuals, truly can help to unite communities and make a difference in the world.

12. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel

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If you are looking for a modern classic, this is absolutely the book for you! Martel takes us along for a voyage with 16 year old Pi, who becomes shipwrecked on a small boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. However, Pi is not alone- he has a hyena, zebra, orangutan, and even a tiger to keep him company. The Life of Pi is a fascinating story of the unique relationship between man and animal, and how this relationship can tell us/teach us about life.

13. The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman

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Anne Fadiman captures a picture of what a clash of culture looks like today in modern day America. Bringing to light some new perspectives and cultures surrounding the field of medicine, Fadiman shows how these cultural miscommunications affect even the smallest of individuals.

14. A Chance in the World by Steve Pemberton

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This story is bound to capture and pull at your heartstrings, as Pemberton introduces the reader to Stephen Klakowicz. As a child, Stephen endures physical and mental abuse in the foster care system, however, against all odds, is able to graduate college and settle down with a family of his own. A Chance in the World follows Stephen’s search for his true family and backstory where he finds out who he, and his biological family, truly are.

15. Option B by Sheryl Sandberg

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Written by the incredibly successful Sandberg, Facebook’s COO and one of Wharton’s top professors, this story is about how to move forward when it just doesn’t seem very possible. For those working towards building their resilience, this book explains how she herself and still others were able to bounce back and, most importantly, find joy in their new situations and live a happy and fulfilled life. Even though the new situation might not be Option A, we can find happiness and discover new, untapped strength in our “Option B.”

16. You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein

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If you are looking for a few laughs and some relatable reminiscing on moments of uncertainty, try Jessi Klein’s book You’ll Grow Out of It! The book takes the reader back to her childhood, growing up as a tomboy, and talks about her transformation into a writer for incredibly popular shows such as SNL and Inside Amy Schumer.  

Stay tuned for our weekly posting on social media as a part of #OHPSummerBookClub!