With the start of a new semester and a chance to perhaps sneak in some time for some extracurricular book reading, here are some suggestions to suit any type of reader:
For the adventure fanatic: Following the experiences of a U.S. Army Air Forces bombardier named Yossarian, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller is a fictional account into the main character’s innumerable and adventurous attempts to keep his sanity so to fill his service requirements that allow him to return home. Fun fact: the term “catch-22” was coined by Heller in this book with the definition of “a problematic situation for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem of by a rule” – a sure sign that the story is one to capture any action lover’s attention.
For those who love a good mystery: Jennifer McMahon’s The One I Left Behind tells the fictional tale of an architect whose troubled mother has been found 25 years after being kidnapped by a killer who is still on the loose. McMahon’s book explores the dark side of adolescent friendship and a disturbing web of secrets, betrayals and murders to haunt the imagination.
For the unconventional romantic: Hailed as a literary classic and soon to be shown at a theatre near you, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy explores the story of doomed love amidst affairs, public scorn and personal unhappiness. Tolstoy’s book while capturing the reader’s attention with the unforgettable characters and the stark drama of their fate also manages to illuminate and investigate the deepest questions about how to live an ultimately fulfilling life.
For the literary criticism lover: Described as a “exhaustively significant to the second half of the twentieth century” as a postmodern epic Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon is an encyclopedic narrative and penetrating analysis of the impact of technology on society.
For the (wanna-be) psychologist: Slyvia Plath’s The Bell Jar draws readers into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche through the palpably accessible story of the mental breakdown of the main character Esther Greenwood.
For the happy-go-lucky dreamer: From quirky to fully dysfunctional the characters of Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple are likable in their own particular ways. After Bernadette’s daughter aces her report card and claims her promised reward – a family trip to Antarctica – her increasingly anti-social mother goes missing. Her daughter, Bee, compiles all of Bernadette’s correspondences in order to find her mother and discover things about her family and herself along the way.
For the environmentalist: Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us offers an original approach to the questions of humanity’s impact on the planet – Weisman narrates an Earth after the loss of human presence.
For those who prefer their own company: Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking shows how we undervalue introverts and how much we lose in doing so. Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the 20th century, explores its far reaching effects and offers advice into introvert-extrovert relationships.
For the nostalgic: Soon to be released in screenplay form, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is regarded as a beautiful portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess. Fitzgerald’s portrayal of the rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale of the American Dream.
For the fantasy/future enthusiast: Taking place far in the future Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World tells of a genetically modified human race devoid of all imperfections and bred and educated to be blissfully content with its pre-destined roles. The main character Bernard Marx is unhappy and has an ill-defined longing to break free and after a visit to one of the few remaining Savage Reservations where the old, imperfect life still continues, he hopes to find the cure to his distress.
For the human rights activist: Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson combines adventure with a celebration of the humanitarian spirit to illuminate the individual’s power to change lives.
By Gala Munoz