Jul 30, 2021 · 5 min read

4 Books To Read Before the End of Summer

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Leadership Team gives their summer reading recommendations.

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Four people smile in front of an illustration of a book.
(From left to right) Priscilla Chan, Josue Estrada, Cori Bargmann and Ruby Bolaria Shifrin share their book recommendations to enjoy this summer.
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It’s that time of year when people unplug, travel and go on vacation. So we’re celebrating the joy and necessity of relaxing and recharging by sharing our leadership team’s recommendations for memorable summer reads. From musings on identity to breathwork to scientific discoveries to social justice — there’s something on this list for every reader.

1. Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Recommended by Priscilla Chan

A woman tilts her head and smiles. There is a yellow circle behind her head and the book "Crying in H Mart" illustrated to her left.
CZI Co-Founder and Co-CEO Priscilla Chan resonated with the book Crying in H Mart, and the author’s journey with her identity and culture.

From singer and guitarist Michelle Zauner, Crying in H Mart is a powerful memoir about family, food, grief and endurance.

“This book highlights the strength that one builds when one is well anchored in their identity,” explains Priscilla Chan, CZI co-founder and co-CEO.

The author shares her experiences growing up as one of the few Asian American kids at her school in Eugene, Oregon. She also tells readers what it was like to lose her mother to terminal cancer and to forge her own identity rooted in the taste, language and history her mother had given her.

One of the highlights is Michelle’s stories about staying in her grandmother’s apartment in Seoul, South Korea, where she and her mother would bond late at night over food. Priscilla also relates to this tradition in the book.

She says, “Food is something that anchors me to my past and my heritage. It is something that I actively work to pass down to my girls.”

2. Breath, The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor

Recommended by Josue Estrada

A man smiles and there is a teal circle behind his head. A yellow book with the word "Breath" is illustrated to his left.
Josue Estrada, CZI’s chief operating officer, says that the breathing techniques in Breath, The New Science of a Lost Art could be beneficial to professionals navigating their day to days.

In this nonfiction work, journalist James Nestor travels the world to better understand the role breathing plays in our well-being.

Josue Estrada, CZI’s chief operating officer, says the book caught his eye because he’s been exploring meditation.

“It explains the science behind breathing — a simple task that most human beings don’t pay too much attention to,” he says.

Breath, The New Science of a Lost Art makes the case that slight adjustments to the way we inhale and exhale can jumpstart athletic performance, rejuvenate internal organs, and halt snoring, asthma, and autoimmune disease.

Josue personally attests to the power of the breathing techniques in the book for overall health, saying some of the methods detailed in the book have helped him stay focused during the challenges of the pandemic. He added that many CZIers would benefit from learning practical breathing techniques from the book and ultimately reduce stress.

3. The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race by Walter Isaacson

Recommended by Cori Bargmann

A woman smiles and is pictured next to an illustration of the book Code Breaker.
Cori Bargmann, CZI’s head of Science, recommends The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race, which explains the science of CRISPR.

CRISPR, or Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, is a relatively new yet powerful tool for genome editing. But, in less than a decade, it’s already led to remarkable scientific discoveries, a Nobel Prize, and emerging therapeutics for genetic diseases.

The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race weaves together the story of Jennifer Doudna, a biochemist who co-determined the essential components of the CRISPR gene editing complex and the science of CRISPR.

Cori Bargmann, CZI’s head of Science, recommends reading it both for the personal and scientific perspectives it details.

“At CZI Science, our goal is to support basic science and technology that will make it possible to cure, prevent, or manage all diseases by the end of the century, ” Cori says. “It seems very likely that CRISPR, or something like it, will be a significant step toward that goal.”

4. The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee

Recommended by Ruby Bolaria Shifrin

A woman smiles and is pictures in front of a green circle. An illustration of a book called The Sum of Us is to her left.
Ruby Bolaria Shifrin, the director of CZI’s Housing Affordability initiative, recommends reading The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together. It reinforced her belief that, “We must organize to rebuild a more equitable and inclusive future where everyone can thrive.”

In The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together, author and economist Heather McGhee talks about the shared costs of racism in the United States and how we can prosper together.

“I love the message of hope that is underlying in this book, despite the heart-wrenching stories of our racist past,” says Ruby Bolaria Shifrin, director of Housing Affordability

The book shares the author’s deeply personal journey across the country from Maine to Mississippi to California, tallying what we lose when we buy into the zero-sum paradigm — the idea that progress for some of us must come at the expense of others.

Ruby says the book’s themes — particularly the sentiment that we are stronger together — relate strongly to the Housing Affordability team’s work at CZI,

“We are having similar conversations with our housing partners,” she says. “We must organize to rebuild a more equitable and inclusive future where everyone can thrive.”

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