During quarantine, the IAHI staff have been keeping busy both in and out of the “office” by doing some much needed reading. We’ve compiled a list of our personal favorite books to read that keep us entertained and sane.

Today’s list is brought to you by Emily Leiserson, a graduate research assistant at the IAHI and PhD student in the IUPUI American Studies Program.

  • The Broken Earth Trilogy, N.K. Jemisin
    AMAZING! Jemisin won three Hugo Awards in a row for each of the three books in this series. It’s set in a distant-future, dark and dystopian earth, where some people have developed abilities to control the elements, but the rest of humanity has enslaved and discriminated against that subset of the population.
  • The City of Brass, S.A. Chakraborty
    A con woman meets a djinn warrior in eighteenth-century Cairo. Enough said, right? But it also has complex and unusual world-building and flawed but loveable characters.
  • The Kingdom of Back, Marie Lu
    This new release from Marie Lu is a historical YA fantasy featuring the sister of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I liked the feminist spin and the compelling sibling relationship. It’s more character-driven than her usual action stories, but I found it a welcome change of pace.
  • Too Like the Lightning, Ada Palmer
    This book is totally bizarre and has a tendency to go on philosophical tangents. But I can honestly say that I haven’t read anything else like it. The 25th-century world is ostensibly a utopia based on Enlightenment principles, and it has no nation states, no organized religion, and no gender binary. (Hint: it’s also not a utopia.)
  • Harry Potter series, JK Rowling
    Every time I pick up one of these books for laughs, I’m sucked into it again. But what better time to read (or re-read) the series that was the foundation for contemporary YA fantasy?
  • And a bonus book (because I always have to have nonfiction going at the same time as fiction): 
    The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith
    There’s more to this than a summary of policies on how nations accrue wealth. If you want to learn more about the assumptions underlying our capitalist system, you may find it fascinating to ride along as Smith works through the various economic systems of the early industrial revolution.

We hope you enjoyed this list! Stay tuned for more staff book picks!

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