Summer 2024 Reading & Listening Recommendations

A collage of book and podcast covers recommended by Gathering Waters staff.

Read on for this year’s roundup of summer reading and listening recommendations from Gathering Waters staff.

Let us know what you think of our picks, and what you’re reading this summer! Drop us a note at

After World

By Debbie Urbanski

I’m not usually one for bleak apocalyptic novels, but this one caught my eye. An artificial intelligence narrates this novel in which the human race is going extinct due to a self-inflicted virus; it’s the best solution to climate chaos the human world could muster. Bleak, huh? The construction of the novel, however, is fascinating. As the main character, a teenage girl, struggles to survive, the AI narrator becomes emotionally enmeshed in her struggle. The novel wrestles with questions of meaning, desire, relationship, and the complicated nature of “choice” in a world fraying from climate chaos.

-Charlie Carlin, Director of Strategic Initiatives

The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History

By Ned Blackhawk

This sweeping book retells five centuries of history and centers Native American experiences. I continue to have so much to learn about Indigenous land history and justice in Wisconsin and beyond. This book provides an incredible, and at times overwhelming, amount of context and detail.

-Mike Carlson, Executive Director

Mexican Gothic

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This gothic horror novel is set in 1950s Mexico. It centers on a young woman who visits her cousin in the countryside where she meets her cousin’s new husband. The longer she stays, the more she learns about the twisted family her cousin has married into. This author always centers her stories around Mexico, which I appreciate as I didn’t always feel represented in the books I read growing up, so if horror is not your style, I would definitely recommend any of her other books.

-Alicia Espino, Communications & Outreach Intern

This Tender Land

By William Kent Krueger

This historical fiction novel tells the story of an unlikely group of orphans winding across a Midwestern landscape during the Great Depression. Through the heartbreaking, heartwarming, and sometimes hilarious experiences of the wayward children, I felt my connection to my grandparents generation both renewed and expanded.  Reviews liken this story to that of Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I agree and would add that I could not help but think of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer as we (readers) float the Mississippi River.

-Chris Gutschenritter, Director of Land Conservation Law Program

The Anthropocene Reviewed

By John Green

This author of this book is best known for young adult fiction, so I was intrigued by this work of nonfiction essays he wrote during the pandemic. Each essay explores a different aspect of our human-centric existence, ranging from science to Diet Dr. Pepper. Inspired by the 5-star rating scale he used previously as a book reviewer, he rates each topic on a scale of 1-5 after discussing its impact.

The Open Ears Project

By WNYC Radio

It’s possible you may not think a classical music podcast is for you. But I imagine both musicians and non-musicians could find peace and joy in each episode in the same way I have. The fairly short episodes feature a clip of a piece of classical music introduced by a guest talking about how the piece has impacted their life. Guests range from classical musicians to celebrities. I’m a classically trained pianist, so this podcast touches my soul in the way that only classical music does, and I just love the soothing vibe.

-Amanda Jutrzonka, Communications Manager

Achieving Excellence in Fundraising Fifth Edition

Edited by Genevieve G. Shaker, et al, Wiley Press

This comprehensive textbook details best practices in fundraising and is a recommended text for CFRE certification. CFRE stands for Certified Fund Raising Executive. It is a voluntary credential recognized worldwide that signifies a confident, ethical fundraising professional. This is maybe not your typical light summer reading, but is an exciting next step forward to becoming CFRE certified.

-Pat McMurtrie, Annual Giving & Outreach Manager

Sincerely Your Autistic Child

By the Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network

Part memoir, part guide, and part love letter, this collection invites parents and allies into the unique and often unheard experiences of autistic children and teens. This book is an incredible resource and wealth of information not only for parents of high-masking autistic children, but also an inside look into the lived experiences of individuals that are all too often told they don’t “seem autistic.” After getting to my 30s and realizing that I am on the autism spectrum, indulging in research and books like this one solidifies the value that neurodivergent individuals bring to a world that is not necessarily built for us. I recommend reading this in conjunction with Unmasking Autism by Dr. Devon Price.

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America

By Richard Rothstein

Re-zoning, red-lining, and redistricting have had major, negative impacts on many metropolitan populations; however, people of color and other marginalized groups have historically been those who suffer most. As someone interested in American history, the oppressive forces of capitalism, and all of the messy things that come with the two, I am looking forward to diving into this highly-appraised exposé.

-Rhianon Morgan, Operations Coordinator


By New Hampshire Public Media


By Wyoming Public Media

Both podcasts intertwine science, nature, and human experiences to encourage us to explore our own relationship with the world around us. Every story shapes my perception of my own place in the world, but also how we’re all woven into this much larger natural tapestry. Outside/In’s “Call of the Void” episode, in particular, was recommended by a few ranger friends from Grand Canyon awhile back and I’ve been hooked ever since.

-Morgan Rusnak, Advocacy Manager

Happy Place

By Emily Henry

Your next summer beach read! Full disclosure, my daughter picked this book out for me at the library a few weeks ago solely because the cover is pink. I was a little annoyed initially because it wasn’t what I was looking for, but now that I’m in it, I can’t get my head out of it. I’m about 2/3rds of the way through and truly can’t tell where the book is heading. I’m rooting for the couple to get back together, but the author seems to be setting me up for disappointment on that front–as it would be the right and healthy thing for the couple to do–but not what this summer romantic wants to read.

-Creal Zearing, Director of Philanthropy