By the Book: Swash Reads 2017

School is back in session for our tiniest Can Bear (good luck in first grade, Harper!), which means that summer has almost come to a close. This means that we only have a few weeks left for Swash Labs Summer Reading Challenge, our agency-wide event in which we read books in the name of team-building, professional development, and book worminess. We’ve been sharing our reads all summer, including short summaries and our thoughts about them, and now we’re going to share some with you. Because what’s more thrilling for a book nerd than a bunch of reading recommendations?

Swash Reads, Summer 2017:

Charlie Hunter, Media Analyst, read:

Torment Saint: The Life of Elliott Smith by William Todd Schultz
Machine Man by Max Barry
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Satan Speaks by Anton LaVey

Charlie’s recap of Machine Man has us all adding it to our must-read list:


“Charles Neumann is a scientist and developer at Better Future, a military research developer. He accidentally loses a leg in an accident at work and starts developing an extensive line of prosthetics. Eventually this becomes an obsession and he starts turning more and more of himself into a machine, intentionally replacing body parts. Not long later, the company decides that he is company property and he must fight to save himself — what's left of him, his mind, and the woman he loves.”

Stephanie Delk, Director of Media & Planning, read:

To The Nines by Janet Evanovich
5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins

Here’s Stephanie’s thoughts on To The Nines:


“Janet Evanovich's To The Nines is the ninth in the light hearted Stephanie Plum series. Stephanie Plum is a clumsy but charming bounty hunter. As she searches for hapless criminals, she is joined by her 'assistant' (former prostitute Lula) and often saved by her fellow bounty hunter friend Ranger. I started the Stephanie Plum series because it’s light and involves crime, but isn't a tv show — and because the main character is named Stephanie, which pleases me. I picked it back up after finding a stash of the series at Half Price Books and remembering what an easy read they are for summer.”

Scott Garrison, Insights & Research, read:

The Weight of Night by Christine Carbo

Scott set the scene for us:


“The Weight of Night is a crime thriller set in and around Glacier National Park. While wildfires are raging throughout the region, a shallow grave is uncovered by firefighters constructing a fire brake. Meanwhile, a young boy goes missing from a park campground. It was an enjoyable, easy read — a character-driven novel that uses the natural backdrop and fires to frame the narrative.”

Joan Wells, Art Director, read:

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Joan gave us glimpse into Born a Crime:


“There's not a lot of detail I should share if anyone's going to read it, but a general summary is that it's about his childhood under Apartheid, and the way his mother navigated the challenges. It's also about the insane things that his family went through in an increasingly abusive relationship, when abusing women wasn't considered a problem by the men in authority.”

As far as my summer went, I read the following titles:

The Girls by Emma Cline
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
Marlena by Julie Buntin
Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion


It’s tough to choose, but my favorite of these reads is probably Fates and Furies. Fates and Furies is labeled as a “book about marriage,” but it’s so much more than that. One half of the book is told from the husband’s perspective and the other from the wife’s, but both are equally intriguing and well-written. I love that the author doesn’t confine herself to standard narrative structure — for example, the husband is a playwright, and she sometimes uses his plays to jump through time, listing the play title and the year and throwing the reader into that moment. The characters here are complicated and the story plays with reality in a way that keeps things unexpected.

If you want to stay up-to-date on our bookscapades you can check out our #swashreads hashtag on Instagram and Twitter. And please give us your recommendations — our ‘to read’ book pile can never get too large.