Ah, May. Summer is coming, to paraphrase a quote from our boy Jon Snow on Game of Thrones. And what’s better than working on your tan and expanding your literary repertoire, all while also looking studious and smoking hot? Nothing, that’s for sure. (except maybe getting a full-body massage from Jared Leto, but let’s be real here).
Below, some of the most literary Zum dudes and dudettes share their favorite books, picked exclusively for you and your steamy summer reading needs. Read on, if you dare.
- Caroline, Phone Chick (left); Missy, Phone Chick (right) and Daisy, Pug (Center): Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” by Lena Dunham
Two fabulous phone chicks, one fantastic memoir. Both Caroline and Missy love Dunham’s show Girls (catch it on HBO if you haven’t already) and follow the manic-yet-lovable writer/director/actor on Instagram as well; Daisy gives her paw of approval since Dunham’s dog Lamby is mentioned frequently. The book is a natural next step for any Hannah Horvath fan, but even if you’re on the fence about Dunham, her memoir does an excellent job of juxtaposing uproarious anecdotes with raw, heartfelt, confessions.
Recommended if you like: Broad City, Bridesmaids, or any other badass chick comedies, irreverent and candid narrators, laughing until your beverage of choice shoots out your nose.
- Katie, Labeler: Dear Life: Stories by Alice Munro
Looking for a more serious summer read? Look no further than Alice Munro. Katie recommends this short story collection to anyone who enjoys powerful characters in separate settings; each of the vignettes are different, but all are significant and sure to bring out your inner literature nerd. This lovely labeler describes the tone of the collection as “wistful”, a descriptor that’s not for the casual reader. Pick up Munro’s book if you want something that satisfies this summer.
Recommended if you like: short stories, serious literature, feeling superior to everyone else reading poolside.
- Ellen, Labeler: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
This label table regular is a talented artist and a kid at heart, two qualities that could also describe the author of this children’s picture book. Ellen says that the illustrations and colors used in The Very Hungry Caterpillar are wonderful, topped only by the captivating story. If you want to entertain the kids in between trips to the pool and nap time, or if you just want to relive the best part of your childhood, be sure to grab this lively picture book by Eric Carle. You won’t be disappointed.
Recommended if you like: coming-of-age stories, bright illustrations, indulging your inner kid.
- Jordy, packer/puller: Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler
Jordy, a more recent addition to the Indigo Crew, always keeps us on our toes, never failing to make us laugh til we cry or snort or do something else embarrassing. It’s only fitting that she loves books by one of the funniest women around: Chelsea Handler. Jordy’s latest pick is Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang; reading it, she says, is like leafing through the pages of Chelsea’s journal. If you’re looking for a light summer read that goes great with string bikinis and poolside pina coladas, make sure you grab this oldie-but-a-goodie from the queen of bawdy comedy.
Recommended if you like: serious laughs, Mindy Kaling or other female comedians, a sassy sense of humor.
- Keith (left), Max (center), and Gavin (right), packers: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami; Tibetan Book of the Dead and The Boy Kings of Texas: A Memoir by Domingo Martinez; Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin, respectively
Is there anything sexier than a man that reads? We don’t think so. Look out, ladies (and gentlemen), the literary hunks of Indigo are here to stay. When they’re not busy packing your boxes full of love and other Zum goodies, these boys are reading seriously good stuff. Keith, a huge Murakami fan, enjoys Kafka on the Shore; if you’ve been too scared to dive into Murakami’s impressive yet intimidating oeuvre, this metaphysical, sexy page-turner is a great place to start. Filled with his signature blend of humor and magical realism, Murakami’s novel will leave you wanting more. Speaking of the metaphysical, indulge your inner yogi with The Tibetan Book of the Dead— your guru will be so proud. Max, a self-professed reader of offbeat literature, also recommends The Boy Kings of Texas: A Memoir, an unflinching look at one man’s gritty childhood on the border of Texas and Mexico, and his family’s attempts to assimilate into American culture. And Gavin, ever the Game of Thrones fan, recommends A Clash of Kings to anyone who wants to go beyond the T.V. show and truly immerse themselves in the world of Westeros. Filled with great writing and familiar characters like Arya Stark and Joffrey Lannister, a true G.o.T. fan won’t be able to resist this book.
Recommended if you like: Gabriel Garcia Marquez or other magical realists, Buddhist philosophy, a new angle on memoirs, fantasy, Jon Snow.
- Joe, packer: Lunch Poems by Frank O’Hara
Joe is an Indigo legacy– his mom and sister also work at the factory. An aspiring musician and packing prodigy, Joe makes time for reading too, especially when it’s this collection of poems by the New York poet Frank O’Hara. Simple and succinct, Joe says that O’Hara’s poems contain an element of truth that everyone can appreciate. Channel your inner Beat poet with this poetry collection that’s the epitome of downtown cool.
Recommended if you like: Allen Ginsberg, food imagery, New York in the 1960’s.
- Collin, Zum Scenester and Production Guru: People, Parasites, and Plowshares by Dickson Despommier
When this Zum expert isn’t gracing the factory with his magical presence, he’s probably somewhere reading this fascinating scientific account of– you guessed it– parasites and their relationship to humans over the years. If you’re at all interested in the millions of parasites that we encounter in our daily life, Collin recommends this informative read. While it’s not for those who hate all things creepy-crawly, it’ll definitely make you see human bodies in a whole new light.
Recommended if you like: biology, The Hot Zone or other books about humans and disease, the secrets of the human body.
- Violet, labeler: Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
Never made it to the Oscar-nominated film version of Pynchon’s novel? Violet says the book is just as good, maybe better. It follows a stoner detective named Doc and his efforts to help his former girlfriend, Shasta, all set against the hazy backdrop of 1970’s California. While the movie is definitely worth checking out, the book contains a few elements not found in the film adaptation. Pick up Inherent Vice for a smoky, shimmering detective story that you won’t be able to put down.
Recommended if you like: Boogie Nights or other 1970’s period pieces, pot-smoking detectives, books more than film adaptations.
- Annie, Zum Expert Extraordinaire: The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
Word around the factory is that Annie’s the place to go when you when you’re in desperate need of a new read. (yes, that rhyme was intentional). Although it was hard for this goat’s milk goddess to narrow down her current list of favorites, she finally settled on this non-fiction, feel-good account of the 1936 Olympics and the University of Washington crew team which represented the U.S. there. If you love rooting for the underdog (or undergoat), don’t miss this captivating account of struggle and reward.
Recommended if you like: Seabiscuit or other feel-good stories, the song “I’m On a Boat”, hunky rowers from the 1930’s.
- Troy, Manager and Man of Steel: Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography by Rob Lowe
Think you know everything about this St. Elmo’s Fire babe? Think again. Troy recommends this autobiography to anyone who enjoys a funny, personable narrator, already used to engaging an audience. Stories I Only Tell My Friends proves that Rob Lowe is more than a pretty face– he’s also a gifted storyteller and brilliant narrator. Ever wondered what lies underneath that chiseled jaw and those soulful eyes? Rob Lowe is more than happy to tell you.
Recommended if you like: celebrity autobiographies, attractive authors, making any men in your life feel inadequate.
- Leslie, Marketing Babe and Lover of Pugs: I Must Say: My Life As a Humble Comedy Legend by Martin Short
Ed Grimley, Nathan Thurm, Jiminy Glick– all of these names are familiar to any fan of Martin Short, a comedian still making audiences laugh even today. His memoir traces his humble beginnings in Canada to his involvement with the famed Second City comedy troupe, and his stint on SNL, all while maintaining his signature voice and humor. Leslie recommends this book to anyone who loves to laugh (isn’t that everyone?) as well as those who want to learn more about one of comedy’s self-proclaimed “legends”.
Recommended if you like: Steve Martin, Saturday Night Live alums, laughing out loud while reading in public and possibly looking like an idiot.
- Emily, aka Mama, aka the Queen of Zum: Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
Prudish readers, look out! Portnoy’s Complaint, a favorite of our fearless leader, is not for the faint of heart. Criticized when it was published in 1969 for its explicit treatment of sexuality, this novel by Philip Roth also launched his career as a literary superstar. Consisting of a young, lustful Jewish man’s monologue to his psychoanalyst, the book is undeniably frank in its depictions of sexuality. If you feel like spicing up your summer, Roth’s early novel will do the trick. You won’t want to eat liver for a while, though. (as if you ever did before!).
Recommended if you like: The Catcher in the Rye or other coming-of-age novels, untraditional narrative structure, guys with mommy issues.
We hope you enjoy these choice summer reads, courtesy of the Zum babes. But if things get too steamy, don’t say we didn’t warn ya…