Feel free to ignore this post. I simply write this because I need an organized list of the books I plan to read or revisit this summer, and I have had a couple of people ask me for reading suggestions in the past couple weeks.
I’m going to stick to mostly classics, because people simply don’t read enough of those things, but I will throw in a couple of pop culture or young adult picks as well. Keep in mind that this is a list more for people in college or thereabouts…not that you shouldn’t read most of these books when you’re in high school, but you know. Whatever…
So I’m going to include 20 books, and don’t worry, there’s absolutely no order to them. I seriously doubt anyone will actually read all of these. If you do, please let me know and I will follow you around taking notes in order to be more like you.
For real, though.
And of course, if you have any suggestions of books you think I should read or add to this list, feel free to leave a comment and let me know which books you would suggest/like and why you’d add them to the list. Also, if you could let me know if you even like these books, that would be nice. I have rather…eccentric taste, so this list will be a little scattered.
1. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald. This is most definitely a classic. I read this book in high school and remember mostly that I couldn’t stand it. I’m currently re-reading it, however, and finding that I’m thoroughly enjoying it. The descriptions are beautiful and the portrayal of the Jazz Age is marvelous. If you read this once, long ago, and despised it, I would suggest picking it up again now. And go watch the movie–it actually does some justice to the book and is the reason I started reading the book again.
2. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley. This book is a rather frightening and disturbing look into the future of modern society. It gives a little insight into the human nature and shows just how despicable people are. I recommend this book because it will stick with you and really show you how not to handle culture. This book is a classic and a must-read for anyone trying to get through modern society and slipping morals.
3. Farenheit 451, Ray Bradbury. This book is the essential book book. It’s set in a dystopian society where books are contraband and anyone caught with them is a traitor to the nation. The ‘firemen’ are actually used to set controlled fires to burn the books. If you can’t imagine a world without books, read this one and see what people do when they have none.
4. 1984, George Orwell. Another dystopian setting, this book is a lot like Brave New World, only it presents slightly more faith in humanity. “Big Brother” watches over everyone, there’s a ‘thought police’, and the world is extremely controlled. Everyone is satisfied, or at least they should be. But the very nature of a dystopia is that there is a perfect world with one major inherent flaw–human nature.
5. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck. This book will bring tears to your eyes. The book follows two men who look for work on a farm, one of whom has some mental issues. The characters are extremely realistic and at time that’s a little scary [especially considering how the book…ends]. The title is based off of the quote, ‘the best laid plans of mice and men…’.
6. Slaughter-House Five, Kurt Vonnegut. I feel a little guilty recommending this book and not having read it…which also means that I can’t write a little review. I barely even know what it’s about. I guess I’ll have to write a review after I read it…
7. Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger. Another ‘must-read’ classic that I somehow never read, I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book. Beware, I’ve also heard it’s a little depressing, but if what I’ve heard is true, it’s worth it.
8. Crazy Love, Francis Chan. Don’t judge me because I’m telling you to read books I haven’t yet, okay? This book has been on my list for way too long and this summer it will get off that list. This book has inspired some major and awesome movements around the country and I have heard amazing things about it. Chan is a great writer and this book is known to be one of the best Christian living books in print.
9. Lord of the Flies, William Golding. This book has been one of my favorites for years. It’s a terrifyingly real insight into the utter ruin that we call humanity. The story follows a group of boys who get stranded on an island when their plane crashes. They must learn to survive–with or without each other’s help. The story shows just how easily the innocence of youth turns into the utter depravity of morals. This books is chilling and brilliant–also slightly disturbing. I would compare the movie ‘The Purge’ [which I just watched and shouldn’t have] to this book.
10. The Pearl, John Steinbeck. This book will probably make you cry [if you’re so inclined]. The story revolves around the theory that wealth destroys and power corrupts. Steinbeck shows just how that occurs by giving a very poor family a great deal of wealth. The wreck that the family becomes shows just how utterly hopeless power can be.
11. Animal Farm, George Orwell. This book is definitely a good insight into humanity–even without humans as part of the everyday world. The animals have taken control and it’s a pig’s world…literally. The pigs slowly become tyrannical and rule their similarities to humans over the other animals, creating a list of things the animals must do in order to survive and have any respect whatsoever.
12. Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury. I read this book sometime between junior year of high school and sophomore year of college [very exact, I know]. I remember this book as being beautiful and insightful while also slower-paced and very relaxing. It made me want to be a kid again and hang out with my grandpa–though my grandparents didn’t make or drink wine from dandelions.
13. Divergent, Victoria Roth. This is a modern young adult novel [the first in a series] and I honestly enjoyed it more than I liked The Hunger Games, and I loved those books. Divergent is all about finding who you are in a culture that has set guidelines for the way everyone is supposed to act–and think. Another dystopian adventure, this book is pretty thick but also a super-quick read.
14. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling. If you haven’t read the Harry Potter series, this summer is your chance. You can most likely finish all the books in two or three months as they lead into each other and they all tie up quite nicely. The Sorcerer’s Stone is the first in the series and introduces a world in which magic is common, though completely unknown by ‘muggles,’ of non-magical folk.
15. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card. Again, a book I haven’t read but have heard nothing but good things about. The movie for this book is coming out this summer or fall, and it looks to be pretty epic. I definitely want to read the book before I see the movie, though.
16. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Shaffer and Barrow. Co-authored in the style of letters being written back and forth between two people who have never actually met, this book was the only thing I thought about the summer I graduated high school–not because it took me that long to read, but because it stuck with me. I picked it up because of the strange name and the plot was so gripping I’m actually going to re-read it this summer.
17. The Paris Wife, Paula McLain. This book focuses on Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley. Of course, you start reading the book knowing there’s not really a happy ending [Hemingway was married four or five times, I believe, and Hadley was only the first], but the book covers their entire relationship–from their meeting in America to the birth of their child to them meeting F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald to their eventual divorce and, ultimately, their deaths. Perhaps the most striking aspect of this book, however, was the depiction of the times and how circumstances shaped Hemingway’s writing style–you actually get to see how he put together “The Sun Also Rises.”
18. Night, Eli Weisel. This is a small book and, you would think, a short read [though I haven’t read it yet…sorry…] but I’ve heard many people say it’s a process. Don’t read this book all in one setting. It’s set in a German Concentration camp and the writer is actually relating first-hand his experiences. The book is hard and real and, from what I’ve heard, extremely depressing unless taken in smaller pieces.
19. The Name of the Star, Maureen Johnson. This is another young adult book and could possibly be a ‘girl book’ if it weren’t for the whole near-death incidents and Jack the Ripper copycat that seems to be wreaking havoc on the streets of London in modern times. The main character is a normal girl who happens to be clumsy and the secondary characters are downright witty, not to mention British…
20. Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell. I seriously don’t expect anyone to read this book in a month–it’s kind of enormous. I have been meaning to read this book for ages and just haven’t gotten to it yet, so it’s a must for my summer list. I can’t even watch the movie because I told myself I wouldn’t until I read the book. It’s a work in progress.
And one more for luck, I suppose…
21. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott. This book is hilarious, sad, romantic, and classy. It’s the perfect story and not just a girl’s book. The movie based off this book [the one with Christian Bale] is actually very close to the book but trust me there are some things in the book you just don’t get in the movie. This book is one of my all-time favorites and I read it in a week when I was 15. It may look intimidating in all its 500-page glory, but on page 498, when you’re in tears, you’ll be glad LMA wrote a [kind of] sequel.
Well, that’s it for my list. Let me know about your book adventures!