Books Read

2016-2017

Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand
After having this book on my Goodreads “To-Read” list for a couple of years, I decided to finally go for it when it was an option for my history summer reading project – and I am so glad I finally read it. I never wanted to put the book down, hoping for Zamperini’s heartbreaking and seemingly endless torture to get end. This book put faces to the millions affected by World War II, and is a book that not only grew me as a reader but that I loved.

You’ll Grow Out of It, Jessie Klein
I believe that this is the fourth female-popular-comedian-writer book I’ve read, and while the genre has worn out on me, this book stood out from the rest. Sure, while it had punchlines and stories similar to those in the other books like it, I found it being one of my favorites of the category, right up there with Tina Fey’s Bossypants. Although it didn’t necessarily challenge me as a reader, I did get a few good quotes and genuinely enjoyed the book.

Seabiscuit, Laura Hillenbrand
When looking for a new book to read, I couldn’t help but compare every one on my shelf to Unbroken, which I’d read over the summer. As I struggled to choose one that would suffice, I figured why not read another book by Hillenbrand? I wound up being anything but disappointed in my choice, as Seabiscuit was just as thrilling and page-turning as Unbroken. Hillenbrand’s books read like candy – something rarely said about nonfiction – and I wish I had savored her two novels a bit more, but I can always re-read!

Known and Strange Things, Teju Cole
This book of essays highlights topics ranging from racism to photography to writing poetry. While the varying topics may portray a lack of focus (and therefore a lack of quality), Cole’s writing shines in every story he tells. Although I chose to read this book straight through, it would be an easy book to pick up and choose a random essay to read. Thanks for the recommendation, Dad.

Big Fish, Daniel Wallace
Seeing as I’m not a huge fan of quirky/mysterious stories, this book did not ever truly “click” with me. It proved to be a little bit too outside of my general reading material, and despite its short length, I probably won’t be reading it again. I am, however, interested in seeing the movie and how the various stories told in the novel are portrayed in a film.

The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien
I’ll be honest with you – I really did not like this book. Maybe it was just a bad time of year, as I seemed to not enjoy many of the books I read towards the end of 2016, or maybe I just genuinely did not like it. The stories did have a lot of meaning for me, but I was never really hooked onto this book like I have been others. While I do love nonfiction, this story was not my favorite.

2015-2016

The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
At first just a book I read due to my dad’s constant references to Holden Caulfield and his story, The Catcher in the Rye quickly became a book that I knew would stick with me. While short and casually-written, Salinger was not afraid to write about the struggles of depression and isolation, and used a light tone for such heavy topics.

Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton
This was definitely more of a fun and leisurely book choice than usual, influenced by my love for the Jurassic Park movies. I loved the changes in perspective while reading, as well as a more in-depth backstory for characters that weren’t given as much attention in the movies based off of the novel.

Why Not Me?, Mindy Kaling
After reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants and Amy Poehler’s Yes Please last year, I chose to read Mindy Kaling’s latest novel after binge-watching her show The Mindy Project. While not a book I would consider “broccoli,” it was definitely eye-opening about some parts of life while staying true to Kaling’s comedic nature. I found myself enjoying this book more than Fey’s or Poehler’s, as the book remained upbeat and funny throughout.

Sophie’s World, Jostein Gaarder
Although it wasn’t one of my favorite books I read this year, it was definitely challenging and helped me grow as a reader. With frequently changing writing styles and a constant flow of information, Sophie’s World required for me to be attentive at all points in the reading process. Not only was this book challenging in the sense that it was “hard,” but it also presented new ideas and questions that I sometimes think back to today about society and our lives.

Siddhartha, Hermann Hesse
One thing that I’ve learned this year is that the length of a book has no correlation with substance and value. While teaching me about the ideas and norms of another culture (and helping me out in WHAP), Siddhartha also provided me with new understandings and a new opinion on what the “meaning of life” truly is. Even though I’ll always compare myself to others and the way they do things, this book has taught me to worry more about the journey rather than the result.

Ready Player One, Ernest Cline
I chose to read this book after much urging from my parents, as I had become the only person in our household who hadn’t read it. Not only did this book teach me not to overthink everything, but it also gave me an interesting insight into how much technology really does impact our everyday lives. While we are not at the point in society that those in Cline’s novel are, we are similar in that we spend much of our time staring into screens for educational, personal, and communicative reasons. Although the world in Ready Player One seemed distant and absurd, it provided had a scary hint of possibility.

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
The first time I read The Great Gatsby was in the ninth grade, and I decided to re-read it after realizing that I’d never gotten a true understanding of this American modern classic. Covering topics of the reliance upon and emptiness of wealth, Fitzgerald’s book seemed to contain topics too heavy for my 14-old-brain to grasp. After reading the novel for a second time, however, I got over the quirky writing style and instead gained a better understanding of what the book was really saying. I feel as though this will be a book I will come back to time and time again for finding deeper meaning in the things that seem so simple.

Malinche, Laura Esquivel
I enjoyed reading this book, which presented a different side to the famous explorer Hernán Cortés as an insensitive and abusive man. Malinche’s story is upsetting and has caused for me to question even further than I had before what we read in our government-issued textbooks. Not every “hero” is quite who we perceive them to be.

Wolf In White Van, John Darnielle
After listening to my friends Sierra and Georgia bicker over the quality of this book, I decided that I would decide for myself what I thought and read it. Much to Sierra’s disapproval, I actually quite enjoyed this book and its slowly unraveling answers to the main questions presented at the beginning. While more “realistic” or relatable than Ready Player One, I found many parallels between the two novels and their plots about games gone wrong.

Counting by 7s, Holly Goldberg Sloan
This was definitely a quick read, as it was not challenging in the sense that it was simply written. That aside, however, the sad story of the genius orphan, Willow, was somewhat inspiring and uplifting. Although everything went wrong for her in the beginning of the story (spoiler: she’s accused of cheating due to her wit and her adoptive-parents die), she manages to push her way through and somehow finds the light in almost everything.

Animal Farm, George Orwell
Unwillingly assigned this book, I found myself pretty satisfied after reading. Just another telling of how length doesn’t say anything about the value of a book. Coming in at about 90 pages, Animal Farm managed to (not so) subtly question practically everything in our world’s history. Although the book is known for having connections to the Russian Revolution, I found myself being able to connect Orwell’s corrupt animal society to those of practically everything since then. I guess it’s only more proof that history is pretty consistent when it comes to repeating itself. While it was a broccoli book due to its confusing historical relations, it was also a fun book to read.

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