Keep Calm and Carry Read on this Summer

How To | June 26, 2015

Imagine this: You’re at the beach, contemplating the sand between your toes and the blue ocean stretching out in front of you. The sun is warming your skin, while the _____ (fill in: beer, cocktail, smoothie) in your hand is keeping you cool. There’s only one thing that could make this (almost) perfect scenario even better: A good book!

As a gift of sorts, and because you deserve only one hundred percent perfect beach days, we put together a list of our favourite summer page-turners, handpicked by our friendly Chimpers. Happy reading!


(take me straight to Non-Fiction)



Melanie Benjamin: The Aviator’s Wife

picked by Erin Dexter, Executive Assistant to the CEO

What is it about? 

For much of her life, Anne Morrow, the shy daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, has stood in the shadows of those around her. Then Anne, a college senior with hidden literary aspirations, travels to Mexico City to spend Christmas with her family. There she meets Colonel Charles Lindbergh, fresh off his celebrated 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic. Anne is certain the celebrated aviator has scarcely noticed her. But she is wrong. Tell me more.

What I like about this book:

This is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. The development of the main character is inspiring, and the story is emotional and raw, with some adventure too.

historical fiction • aviation • Charles Lindbergh • Ann Morrow Lindbergh • Lindbergh Baby



James Clavell: Shogun

picked by Arif Bandali, Software Developer

What is it about? 

A bold English adventurer. An invincible Japanese warlord. A beautiful woman torn between two ways of life, two ways of love. All brought together in an extraordinary saga of a time and a place aflame with conflict, passion, ambition, lust, and the struggle for power. Tell me more.

What I like about this book:


epic Japan historical can’t-go-wrong



Tatiana DeRosnay: Sarah’s Key

picked by Linda Wong , Client Success

What is it about? 

Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family’s apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.

Paris, May 2002: On Vel’ d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France’s past. Through her investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. As she probes into Sarah’s past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life. Tell me more.

What I like about this book:

It haunts me in the best way possible.

history •1942 Paris roundup • French Roundup • World War II



Paula Hawkins: The Girl on the Train

picked by Teresa Virani, Online Campaigns Manager

What is it about? 

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good? Tell me more.

What I like about this book:

Totally intriguing storyline and written in a really interesting way. The timelines are jumbled up and the story is told from three different perspectives. I’m not usually a fan of mystery novels, but this one totally hooked me in. It’s really articulate and the details are so well described. I was transported straight back to being a commuter on a London train. Accurate and perceptive, but also depressing and sad.

psychological thriller


Adam Johnson: The Orphan Master’s Son

picked by Reuben Jones, Product Designer

What is it about? 

Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother—a singer “stolen” to Pyongyang—and an influential father who runs a work camp for orphans. Superiors in the state soon recognize the boy’s loyalty and keen instincts. Considering himself “a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world,” Jun Do rises in the ranks. He becomes a professional kidnapper who must navigate the shifting rules, arbitrary violence, and baffling demands of his Korean overlords in order to stay alive. Driven to the absolute limit of what any human being could endure, he boldly takes on the treacherous role of rival to Kim Jong Il in an attempt to save the woman he loves. Tell me more.

What I like about this book:

North Korea is such a mystery to me, so I’m always intrigued to read something that can help tear down some of the wall. It’s a fascinating journey for the hero, from orphan to tunnel fighter, to professional kidnapper, fisherman, diplomat, spy, and general. Beautifully written, and both sad and funny, often at the same time.

adventure • comedy • romance


Jean Kwok: Girl in Translation

picked by Jen Sing, Software Developer

What is it about? 

When Kimberly Chang and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to Brooklyn squalor, she quickly begins a secret double life: exceptional schoolgirl during the day, Chinatown sweatshop worker in the evenings. Kimberly learns to constantly translate not just her language but herself back and forth between the worlds she straddles. Tell me more. 

What I like about this book:

Heart-warming tale of the struggles of an immigrant girl, who manages to overcome poverty and drive her own success by hard work and strong relationships.

poverty • love • success


Dennis Lehane: Mystic River

picked by Eva Sorokacova, Senior Programmer Analyst (Peer Giving Solutions)

What is it about? 

When they were children, Sean Devine, Jimmy Marcus, and Dave Boyle were friends. But then a strange car pulled up to their street. One boy got into the car, two did not, and something terrible happened — something that ended their friendship and changed all three boys forever.

Now, years later, murder has tied their lives together again. Tell me more.

What I like about this book:

Twist of fate, controversial and I enjoy the writer’s style.

mystery • emotional • Boston • sense of right or wrong


Emily St. John Mandel: Station Eleven

picked by Christine Smith, Client Success

What is it about? 

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be saviour, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity. Tell me more.

What I like about this book:

It wasn’t something I’d normally choose but it came recommended by a friend and I really enjoyed it. I figured I would pass on the favour! While it’s a book about the collapse of civilization, it’s also hopeful. And it takes place in and around Toronto so as a former Torontonian, it was cool to be able to identify with the setting in a personal way.

civilization • art • humanity • love • survival • memory • ambition • fame



Philipp Meyer: The Son

picked by Corey Black, PR & Content Strategist

What is it about? 

Spring, 1849. The first male child born on the newly established Republic of Texas, Eli McCullough is 13 years old when a marauding band of Comanche storm his homestead and brutally murder his mother and sister, taking him captive. Eli quickly adapts to Comanche life, learning their ways and language, answering to a new name, carving a place as the chef’s adopted son, and waging war against their enemies, including white men. But when disease, starvation, and overwhelming numbers of armed Americans decimate the tribe, Eli finds himself alone. Tell me more.

What I like about this book:

It’s the story of western expansion, and the decline of an empire. The story traces one family’s 200 year history in Texas, and it’s beautifully told in minimalist prose. The story is at times bleak, but it’s full of moral lessons and Meyer’s descriptions of nature and geography are stunning.

Fiction • Western • oil • nature • family • empire


Mordecai Richler: Solomon Gursky Was Here

picked by Mikael Bingham, Compliance Consultant (Benefic)

What is it about? 

Berger, son of the failed poet L.B. Berger, is in the grips of an obsession. The Gursky family with its colourful bootlegging history, its bizarre connections with the North and the Inuit, and its wildly eccentric relations, both fascinates and infuriates him. His quest to unravel their story leads to the enigmatic Ephraim Gursky: document forger in Victorian England, sole survivor of the ill-fated Franklin expedition and charismatic religious leader of the Arctic. Tell me more. 

What I like about this book:

Canada! The Franklin Expedition! Rum running! Jewish Montreal! Richler’s sense of irony (and slightly snide empathy)! My favourite book by my favourite author.

Canada • exploration • magical realism • Montreal • Franklin



Brandon Sanderson: The Final Empire

picked by Kareem Mayan, Technical Product Manager

What is it about? 

In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with colour once more? Tell me more.

What I like about this book:

Epic first part of a trilogy about a young woman with underdeveloped magical powers who’s welcomed and mentored by a crew of thieves to help them overthrow an evil ruler. But so much more than this…

civilization • art • humanity • love • survival • memory • ambition • fame


John Kennedy Toole: A Confederacy of Dunces

picked by Dee Keilholz, Copy Writer  

What is it about? 

A Confederacy of Dunces is an American comic masterpiece. John Kennedy Toole’s hero is one Ignatius J. Reilly, “huge, obese, fractious, fastidious, a latter-day Gargantua, a Don Quixote of the French Quarter.” His story bursts with wholly original characters, denizens of New Orleans’ lower depths, incredibly true-to-life dialogue, and the zaniest series of high and low comic adventures. Tell me more.

What I like about this book:

I’ve recently reread this book and was reminded that it’s one of my all-time favourites. It’s one of those books that don’t just make me chuckle, but full-on belly-laugh. Following Ignatius on his adventures through New Orleans is a lot of fun, but what’s really special about this book are its deeply flawed, lunatic, but somehow loveable characters. I always dread getting to the last page: it’s like when you’re a kid and you’re having a play date at a friend’s house and then it’s time to go home and you just don’t want it to end.

comedy • Don Quixote • New Orleans • antihero



Andy Weir: The Martian

picked by Nick Fühling, Visual Designer

What is it about? 

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity and his engineering skills, he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him? Tell me more.

What I like about this book:

It’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars! A firmly realistic yet gripping tale of survival, I never thought I would read a book full of so much math and still enjoy it. It’s almost hard to categorize it as science fiction. Plus, you need to read it before the movie trailers spoil the whole plot.

Science Fiction • action • mathematics • NASA • space • against the odds • MacGyver




Susannah Cahalan: Brain on Fire

picked by Nadine Britton, Benefic

What is it about? 

One day, Susannah Cahalan woke up in a strange hospital room, strapped to her bed, under guard, and unable to move or speak. Her medical records—from a month-long hospital stay of which she had no memory—showed psychosis, violence, and dangerous instability. Yet, only weeks earlier she had been a healthy, ambitious twenty-four year old, six months into her first serious relationship and a sparkling career as a cub reporter. Tell me more.

What I like about this book:

A guy on the bus told me I should read this book, so I did. Now I’m telling you you should read it, so you probably should. It’s such a confusing story (in a good way) that makes you wonder if it really is a true story. I probably finished reading it in two days. It’s that good.

mental illness • memoir



Ed Catmull: Creativity, Inc. 

picked by Clayton Correia, Product Manager

What is it about? 

Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, a manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation—into the story meetings, the postmortems, and the “Braintrust” sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made. It is, at heart, a book about how to build a creative culture—but it is also, as Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull writes, “an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible.” Tell me more.

What I like about this book:

I’m currently reading this. So far it’s a great read for anyone working in technology or in the creative field. The focus is on building a great team and getting the highest quality work out of them.
Lots of great insights on culture, risks, teamwork and avoiding errors that could harm a company. This is a very accessible business/management book for folks who don’t tend to read a lot of those kinds of books.

Want to know what Clayton is reading? Follow him on goodreads.


business • management • creativity • Pixar • technology • animation • design • culture • teamwork • art



Lewis Hyde: The Gift –  Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property

picked by John Bromley, CEO 

What is it about? 

Starting with the premise that the work of art is a gift and not a commodity, this revolutionary book ranges across anthropology, literature, economics, and psychology to show how the ‘commerce of the creative spirit’ functions in the lives of artists and in culture as a whole. Tell me more.

What I like about this book:

I haven’t read it yet, come on.  But the book positions the work people do as either “transactional/commerce” or as a “gift” (to/for society and humanity). Right up my alley.

human contribution as gift


Twyla Tharp: The Creative Habit

picked by Jen Cook, Visual Communication Designer

What is it about? 

A guide to unlocking creative potential provides exercises, anecdotes, and advice for evaluating one’s creative history, finding creative stimulation through activity, and making time for creative change. Tell me more.

What I like about this book:

It’s non-fiction, but has some pretty great advice for integrating creativity into your everyday, from a person who has been professionally creative (choreographer) for around 40 years.

creativity • life hacks • advice

Do you have a book recommendation you’d like to share? Leave it in the comments section or share on  social (use the hashtag #wearechimp).

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