As we anxiously await the launch of Dane Jensen’s new book, The Power of Pressure, the Summer Reading List has arrived just in time to give us the distraction we need.

This is our favourite summer tradition, in which members of the Third Factor team offer their best picks for your summer. Diverse as always, this list includes novels, nonfiction, a collection of short stories, and even an audiobook about dragons. Whether you want something lighthearted or something to chew on, your next favourite book is in this list.

Here are this year’s picks.

One book I am eager to dive into this summer is Adam Grant’s Think Again. For me, learning to stay curious longer and being less certain that I already have the answers will allow me to approach whatever the post-Covid world throws my way. Grant is an amazing storyteller with a great analytical mind so I am sure it will be an amazing read.

A bit of a departure from my previous picks, The Vanquished is a thoroughly researched, thought-provoking, and highly readable look at the period of upheaval, bloodshed, and social re-ordering that followed WWI in the defeated countries. It upended my understanding of the inter-war period and, as one reviewer put it, “makes it easier to understand why order came to be a supremely desirable objective in 1930s Europe, trumping freedom.” If you’re a history buff, this is a book that will give you a ton of new insight without putting you to sleep.

I purchased the audiobook for longer car rides as a way to entertain my kids that did not involve staring into a screen, and I ended up getting drawn into the story along with them. As a parent, I loved the imaginative storytelling and positive messages. As a person, I was thoroughly entertained. An unexpected bonus: the audiobook is brilliantly narrated by Scottish actor David Tennant, who seamlessly switches between over a dozen distinct characters. Just a heads up – this is a 4 volume series but it flies by. We are (sadly) on the fourth and final volume.

This is a great opportunity to rethink a lot of what we think we know about our health. Sinclair really challenges many of the traditional notions about health and backs it all with stellar evidence. This is a great summer read – if you don’t mind digging into the science of things! Incredible insights, research simplified, great stories and some very practical advice. I particularly enjoyed the Longevity Now chapter. All told, I’ve made a few key changes since reading this book that has put a bounce back in my step, has me sleeping better, and more energized for the coming pivot back to whatever our new normal is.

In this book, the economists Milton and Rose Friedmen promote (very eloquently) the idea of free market economy, originally introduced more than 200 years ago by Adam Smith. They discuss how the idea of a free market economy clearly manifested itself in a rapid and unprecedented development of countries like Great Britain and the United States in the 19th century – and how later, unwise interference of government bodies into the process caused more damage than help.
Over the past few years, most of my reading time has been spent sharing children’s books with my two young boys. As they’re starting to get to an age where they’re interested in novels, Roald Dahl’s The Witches has been a standout favourite. The story follows a young boy who falls victim to real witches – and exacts his revenge. The story is brilliant, the imagery fantastic, and the characters voices make it extra fun to read aloud. Bonus points for the many adaptations including the movies and graphic novel the kids will read to themselves.

From the first page, the imagery, so eloquently described, becomes reality to my senses. I see, feel and smell the sweetgrass. The meaning and symbolism shared are the first of many lessons in life that grace the pages that follow. As I continue to read the stories, I accept Kimmerer’s invitation to understand the world from a different perspective. Not a new one. An old one, ancient in fact, almost erased. The remarkable transfer of knowledge on botony, language, culture and history flows easily and beautifully. Part wonderment, part awe become woven into painful reality as I try to comprehend the injustices on our Indigenous peoples. This book is a gift to the soul and a tender reflection on what needs to be understood by all who share this earth. As we come out of the pandemic and look to restore the lives we love I clutch my heart and hope that our future is informed by the hope of braiding sweetgrass.
Eight people. A failed robbery. An open house. Anxious People centres on how a shared event can change the course of many lives. I found this novel a bland read for the first 95 pages as the writing did little to draw out the characters. But the story gains momentum as the captives’ lives and their relationships with the outside world and one another blend together. Backman’s philosophical insights and humour make the book worth a summer read.

This is a fantastic read if you’ve ever wanted practical strategies to help you manage stress and perform at your best (and, really, who hasn’t?!). In Heart Breath Mind, Dr. Lagos clearly explains her practical, 10-week breathing training protocol, which is based on the science behind heart rate variability (HRV). Your heart muscle is in a constant, two-way conversation with your brain and body via the vagus nerve. This book helps you learn to take better control of that conversation in stressful moments. I am 7 weeks into the 10-week training protocol, and I can feel the physical, mental, and emotional impact that resonant frequency breathing can have when practiced consistently over time. You may not give your breathing a second thought in everyday life, but this book shows you that it can be a powerful tool for better performance, stress management, and increased mental clarity!
This book offers great insight into the history of American music between 1950 and 1970. It’s about ingenuity, hard work and perseverance. Learn about the rivalry between polar opposites, Leo Fender and Les Paul, while enjoying the joy ride of rock music. Lots of great stories about the humble origins of the tools that allowed rockers & blues players to get loud. We know the music – here is how it got there.

This author is a great writer, researcher and story teller. The Book of Longings is a historical novel taking place in the first century during Jesus’ time. To read a book about this time period, that involves Jesus but is not about him, was really interesting. The protagonist is a bright, inspiring woman engaged in a bold struggle to realize her own potential in a time and culture where she has no power. Her life in intertwined with Jesus life in a completely unexpected way. Jesus is portrayed here from a very humanistic perspective rather than a spiritual one. Reading about their parallel journeys was fascinating. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was definitely a page turner.
My pick for the summer reading list follows the lives of three people, all on very different p aths but still intertwined. One becomes a con artist, so you know it’s good!

I’ve enjoyed Linwood Barclay’s novels for a number of years, and his latest is no exception. He weaves great character development (including a ripped from the headlines rather despicable villain) with interesting plot twists and lots of action. As with most of his novels, this is a great blend of mystery and thriller.

I really wanted to recommend Transcend, which is a revisitation of Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy of needs but that might be a bit heavy for summer reading! Not that Adam‘s book is light, but rather it’s a wonderfully easy read given his style and sense of humor. It’s basically encouraging us to keep an open mind and that if we have some humility and curiosity and reconsider our beliefs we can always reinvent ourselves. He’s a wonderful storyteller which makes for a great summer read. He and Brené Brown have a wonderful podcast that covers off some of the content as well.

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