About this time each summer, with precious few weekends before Labor Day, the reading lists we made months ago start to look overly ambitious. Don't worry. We asked our Her.meneutics writers to pick just one book, maybe two, they'd list as must-reads for that last beach trip, afternoon by the pool, lazy day in the backyard, or even free evening lounging on the couch. So pick one, and get going. Also, let us know your favorite reads from this summer in the comments.

For a mindless but meaningful read that keeps you turning the pages late into the night: The Passage by Justin Cronin Cronin wrote this book in response to his daughter's challenge to write a book about "a girl who changes the world". This dystopian novel is a fusion of horror, science fiction, and fantasy, depicting a post-apocalyptic world in which most of humankind are turned into vampiric creatures. Yet, it's not the vampire aspect of the novel that makes it so appealing; it's how Cronin powerfully depicts human nature—our deepest fears and our strongest loves.

For inspiration: Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen by Mary Sharratt In this historical novel, Sharratt vividly portrays the life of Hildegard von Bingen, the 12th century Benedictine abbess, writer, and composer.

- Halee Gray Scott

For poetry that'll move you: Past Imperfect by Suzanne Buffam Carry this slim volume by the Canadian poet around with you like a happy secret. The poems, exquisite and carefully wrought, serve as a deterrent to distraction. Read them and become not only more in awe of the details of the natural world around you, but more able to attach words to the swirls of emotion and unspoken thoughts that move inside of us.

For the child ...

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