7 Non-Fiction Alternatives to the Beach Read

Summer is the perfect time to crack open a good book, especially if you plan to spend time at one of the many local beaches along the Fairfield County coast. But in addition to quintessential beach reads, maybe try a bit of nonfiction to help expand your horizons. We’ve got some great suggestions—from memoirs to business books.

Nonfiction Books for Summer 2023

The Bezos Blueprint: Communication Secrets of the World’s Greatest Salesman

Regardless of how you feel about Amazon, Jeff Bezos has revolutionized retail, and his communication strategies are a roadmap for how to present ideas. Author Carmine Gallo condenses and highlights the key tools that Bezos and his team at Amazon use to communicate in-house—tools that are all highly adaptable for everyday life. Filled with examples of how a variety of executives have utilized these approaches, this book is not a Bezos biography, but rather a blueprint of how Amazon uses specific communications tactics for success. Be sure to take notes, as the book contains drills to allow readers to practice these skills.

Happier Hour: How to Beat Distraction, Expand Your Time and Focus on What Matters Most

Whether you’re a corporate titan, busy volunteer or stay-at-home parent, this book is packed with practical ideas and strategies to build a more satisfying life. Award-winning professor at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, author Cassie Holmes, provides concepts and tools (such as worksheets to record how you spend your time) to help you reflect on what brings you satisfaction. The book is designed to help you savor your journey and take control of your days. She includes simple ideas that are easy to apply, such as time blocking to avoid over scheduling. I recommend reading it on a tablet or with a phone handy to take pictures of some of the clever worksheets.

Smart Brevity: The Power of Saying More with Less

This book is as applicable to business executives as it is to class moms. Communicating concisely takes practice. For all those parents who feel like their family doesn’t read texts or emails, Smart Brevity helps you see things from the readers perspective in order to engage your audience. You don’t have to run a Fortune 500 company to benefit from the practical strategies on how to get your ideas across.

From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life

Please take a deep breath when I tell you that the average life expectancy is seventy-six years. So that means your second half of life technically begins at thirty-eight. (Although that’s hard to imagine, as you may be still changing diapers at thirty-eight.) Now that you’ve digested that bracing thought, don’t be put off by the title of this book. Whether you’re getting your kids into school or out of the house or pondering choices regarding your next decade, this thought-provoking book helps readers take stock of their lives and plan for a future filled with purpose and enjoyment. Brooks assures us that, yes, our best days are quite possibly ahead of us. But that requires some planning. He presents scientific data and research about aging and provides practical strategies for creating meaning, purpose and happiness.

The Defining Decade: Why your twenties matter and how to make the most of them now

If you have children—whether they are in their twenties or someday will be—this thought-provoking book by psychologist Meg Jay should be on your reading list. Drawing on her academic and private practice work, she challenges the oft-believed concept that our twenties is an insignificant decade. Compassionate and inspirational, it is not meant to evoke anxiety but rather remind readers that decisions made in one’s twenties regarding education, career and relationships set the foundation for later decades when choices become more limited. Originally written in 2013, it was revised in 2021 to include contemporary topics like online dating.

Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story

Bono seems to be everywhere—from his intimate shows at the Beacon Theatre in New York City to his special with David Letterman on Disney+ to U2’s new Songs of Surrender. The mega-star has also written an engaging memoir. In it, he shares his life in a deeply personal way, yet manages to gracefully protect his family’s privacy. The pages are filled with stories about song inspirations, reflections on his upbringing in Ireland amidst turbulent political times, and insights into his work with the AIDS crisis, famine and debt relief. Bono is a natural storyteller, and his thoughts on spirituality, marriage to his high school sweetheart and raising a family while juggling fame will have you listening to many of his songs in a whole new way. The book tackles topics in a short story type fashion, making it easy to pick up and set down without losing the thread. Written in his unmistakable voice, you can almost hear his Irish brogue in your head. But you also literally can. The audiobook is read by Bono himself.

Third Girl from the Left

Local author Christine Barker has everyone talking about her memoir about her life on Broadway. Word of mouth after a great New York Times review and her speaking engagements at the Perrot Library and Athena Books in Old Greenwich have this book shaping up to be everyone’s book club pick of the year. Her tales of New York theater life in the seventies and eighties, creating family in new places and the devastating impact of the AIDS crisis as it claims those close to her are immensely engaging.

Listen Up!

Summer is a great time to diversify how you read. Even if you’re committed to flipping the pages of a physical book, there are times the electronic side can come in handy. If you’re traveling, you’ll save weight and space. And tablet reading is great for nonfiction books so you can screenshot pages and passages to keep and share. Audio books can also make walking or driving a more interesting adventure.

Stop into any one of our local libraries and get a library card. You can then download the Libby app and use your library card sign up for audiobooks. Greenwich Library boasts an impressive list of e-books and audiobooks. And no return books to worry about.

Images: Janinadysk – stock.adobe.com; covers – contributed.

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