In lieu of the recent weather that encourages rainboots and snuggies, I thought I’d advocate for a form of entertainment that is conducive to staying in your bed. Don’t use too much imagination here, I’m suggesting reading, though I don’t mean for homework. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’m suggesting that you read for pleasure. But, before you get too scandalized by the preposterous idea that a college student should or could read for fun, let me suggest a few of my favorite books that might actually make a night in, worth your while…
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Given to me as a present by my sister, (possibly one of the few people who reads this blog) I effortlessly fell in love with this story. A familiar protagonist, much like that of the late Salinger’s Holden Caulfield, Oskar Schell is an eccentric nine-year-old whose great insight and curiosity toward the world gives this story the vibrancy it needs to survive its sometimes depressing post 9-11 backdrop. Oskar searches for his place amidst a chaotic New York, traveling between his family’s past through stories and journals, to the present where he persistently tries to discover and demystify the world in which he lives. If you’re familiar with Foer’s other, more popular work, “Everything is Illuminated”, you know this author is a must-read.
A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz
Before spending last summer fulfilling the stereotype of a liberal arts student traveling around Europe “finding myself”, I searched for a book that would accompany me through the many hours I would inevitably sit on a plane, train or bus. I wanted something more than a novel with Fabio on the cover, but easier to casually read than Tolstoy. I went to Book People in Austin and decided then that I would go against everything I was ever taught in first grade and judge a book by its cover. That’s right, the book that surpassed even my favorite classics gained its prestige because the cover looked like someone had (purposely) taken a hole punch to it.
Told in a narrative style that I find witty, grotesquely candid and snarky, the established narrator, Jasper Dean, weaves the story of his father’s life that spans the coasts of Australia, bohemian Paris, the hidden jungles of Thailand, asylums, labyrinths and criminal lairs. To give you any more than this would, I fear, spoil a story that is best discovered by simply experiencing. If you read one book this year, this is the one…
Eat Love Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert
This book is definitely more mainstream than my other two suggestions (just check the NY Times bestseller list) and is probably best enjoyed by females or those experiencing a deep existential crisis. Written in an autobiographical style, Gilbert tracks her three-part yearlong journey to Italy, India and Indonesia. She takes an honest approach to her story leaving readers feeling comforted despite her struggles. (You might have also heard about the movie version starring Julia Roberts, though I have my doubts about how the heart of this story could translate to film… best to read the book first. )
Recommended by friends and critics alike (and on my bookshelf queue because of… well, life):
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet
Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill
If you have any favorite books to recommend or ideas on those listed, please comment and share your thoughts!
AND in case you haven’t turned on the radio, been on facebook, or walked down that pink and red aisle at the grocery store, Valentine’s day is just around the corner and so is my blog on ideas for dates and group hangouts alike.
‘Till then night owls!