How I picked the five books for this summer’s selection

SUMMER IS A GREAT TIME TO escape: to the beach, to the mountains or to the world of a great book. This year, I have found myself drawn even more than usual to books that take me outside, and I don’t mean the great outdoors. These books push me out of my own experiences, and I learned some things that shed new light on where humanity might be headed.

Some of these books helped me better understand what it’s like to grow up outside of the mainstream: as a child of mixed race in apartheid South Africa, as a young man trying to escape his impoverished life in rural Appalachia or as the son of a peanut farmer in Plains, Ga. I hope you’ll find that others make you think deeper about what it means to truly connect with other people and to have purpose in your life. All of them will transport you somewhere else—whether you’re sitting on

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