A book is a powerful tool, it has the ability to introduce a mind to a new world, dive into a mystery, and educate us on ourselves and others. What the pen writes, the mind absorbs; offering new perspectives and teaching important lessons. Stephen King describes the thrill of a new book best; “Books are a uniquely portable magic”.
As the fall months arrive and a new semester begins, its important to keep your mind sharp and build the habit of reading for pleasure. Below are some literary recommendations for our wonderful TP staff, and whether your prefer dystopian fiction or timeless romance novels, there’s something for everyone.
The Secret History
Based around Richard, a lower middle-class boy who leaves to attend Hampden College, an elite Vermont college. Richard is ashamed of his humble roots, and erases his mediocre upbringing by lying about the lavish life he leads. At Hampden, he befriends a group of very rich students, plunging into a world of drugs, money, guilt, murder, and evil secrets. Donna Tartt’s The Secret History has a “Lord of Flies” meets back-to-school theme, and connects to all who’ve wanted to escape their day-to-day lives and unravels the web of lies Richard builds in order to fit in.
The Sea of Tranquility – Katja Millay
Nastya, the protagonist of the story faces a horrible tragedy, for which she copes with by taking an oath of silence and moving to her aunt’s house. She wants to keep her head down and get through high school. Despite her best efforts, she is attracted to Josh, an outsider who no one looks at. Katja Millay’s wonderful book touches on depression, loneliness, love, and solace that can be found in the most unexpected places.
The Meursault Investigation
Anyone who has read Albert Camus’ L’Étranger (The Stranger), this book is perfect. Kamel Daoud, an Algerian writer, retells the story of The Stranger, but through the murdered unnamed Arab’s perspective. Blending Camus’ previous works with Algerian history and wonderful prose, the book is told by Harun, the Arab’s younger brother, and recounts how his life changed when his brother was shot by the infamous Meursault. Illustrative, imaginative, and creative, Daoud gives a name and a face to a man Camus had left blank decades before.
Unwind by Neal Shusterman is a refreshing take on the ever popular teenage dystopian society genre. Set in post-second civil war America, parents are given the option to “unwind” children they did not really want. This is considered a comprise for abortion, socially accepted because each body part of the child lives on. Connor, Risa, Lev are three teenagers on their way to be unwound when a set of accidents occur along the way, forcing them to fight for their lives and escape the system. If you enjoyed The Hunger Games or The Chrysalids, this is the book for you.
The Martian is Andy Weir’s first novel; it is an imaginative and creative work. The story is centered around Mark Watney, an astronaut stranded on Mars. He documents his fight for survival on Mars to help other future astronauts who come across him. His will to survive, ingenuity, and wit keep him alive until he is rescued.
Never Let Me Go
A gripping novel written by British-Japanese author Kazuo Ishiguro follows the life of Kathy. Kathy is a student at Hailsham, a boarding school in England that is not in the least way normal. As the book goes on, we learn that the students at Hailsham are clones created solely for organ donation that will eventually lead to their death. The novel explores the human need for love, affection, and friendship that the clones get to experience for a brief time, before they are faced with their inevitable destiny.
Yes Please is former SNL cast member and Parks and Recreation star Amy Poehler’s autobiography. It shows another side to her personality that viewers don’t get to see on screen, talks about her early life and moving to New York with a dream and some great friends. Hilarious, colorful, and uplifting, it packs some pretty heavy life lessons disguised in chapters comically titled “Treat Your Career Like A Bad Boyfriend”, and “The Robots Will Kill Us All”.
Elon Musk: Inventing the Future
An insightful biography by business columnist Ashlee Vance about Elon Musk, the current CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors. The book details Musk’s early life, his quirks, and his involvement in major companies such as Paypal, Solarcity, Tesla, SpaceX, and Zip2. Vance’s book is the perfect mix of interesting corporate history and a fantastic way to motivate yourself for the upcoming school year.
The Coloring Book
A humorous take on an important issue, former SNL writer Colin Quinn takes about race and political correctness in America. Drawing on his life as a native New Yorker, he has a wonderfully candid view on the history of different ethnic groups and the evolution of society from the 1970s to present day. His message that people shouldn’t be focused on making sure we are politically correct, but to just enjoy and admire all cultures is an important message for everyone to take home.
The Select – F. Paul Wilson
Written by Dr. F. Paul Wilson, The Select is about a Quinn, a girl vying to get into The Ingraham, a top-notch medical school. With some scheming and help from a friend, Quinn is excepted to the school. However, she soon realizes that every student thinks, acts, and appears to be the same. She then discovers that the school is brainwashing students to fit their vision of what the future of medicine should look like. Creepy, insightful, imaginative, this book keeps you in suspense and on your toes. A must read for anyone interested in science coupled with a good page-turner.
Originally rejected for being “too disturbing”, Chuck Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters is a dig at the superficiality of our society and the hardships faced when reinventing yourself. A beautiful model gets her face shot off, becoming a horrifying remnant of her former self. In the hospital, she meets Ms Brandy Alexander, Queen Supreme, who befriends her. The novel begins at a wedding, where Brandy is shot, while the nameless model recounts memories in a non-linear order. A tale laden with plot twists, surprises, and morbid humor, it’s a disturbing and wonderful read that you won’t be able to put down.
Warning: this book has sexual abuse, drugs, and self harm laced throughout. Written in poems by New York Times Bestselling author Ellen Hopkins, the story centers around two identical twins, Kaeleigh and Raeanne, whose lives appear perfect on the outside, but in reality are anything but. The novel switches between the two girls’, delivering a gripping and powerful tale with a disturbing and shocking realization at the end.