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A Baker's Dozen — Books for Your Reading List

CollegiateParent


This is a fantastic opportunity to get to some of those books we’ve been putting off while we’ve been busy.

Head over to your favorite online book forums — be they websites, social media platforms or bookstore sites — and see what everyone is recommending. Your favorite local bookstore might be hosting online discussions, you might find an online book club you’d like to join, or maybe you just want to expand your personal library a bit.

The New York Times interviewed some of today's best writers about the books that comfort them — some wonderful choices here. Many would work for a "family book club" with your teens and college students.

Here are some of the titles on our personal reading lists! 

The Imperial Radch Trilogy by Ann Leckie

A space opera trilogy perfect for science fiction lovers. The protagonist, Breq, is a spaceship’s artificial intelligence trapped in a human body. Beautifully written, the trilogy follows Breq as she embarks on a quest for revenge after being torn from her original starship.

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Australian writer Liane Moriarty has written a number of suspenseful and very funny novels, including Big Little Lies, which was made into a star-studded HBO series now in its second season. In Nine Perfect Strangers, Moriarty delves deep into her characters’ heads and hearts, and showcases how powerful it can be when people — who may think they have nothing in common — share a journey of unexpected self discovery. 

The Yellow House: A Memoir by Sarah M. Broome

Broome's rich, multi-layered book is a family and community history as well as a reflection on her own journey as she grew up and left New Orleans to become a world-traveling journalist, only to return to her roots after Hurricane Katrina's devastation. Chosen as one of the 10 Best Books of 2019 by the New York Times, it also won the 2019 National Book Award for Nonfiction.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

This 1891 novel is a goldmine for any prose lovers out there. Controversial in its own day and still thought-provoking, Wilde’s only novel is an overarching allusion to the Greek myth of Narcissus and follows its protagonist as he wrestles with morality and mortality. Would you sell your soul for eternal youth and beauty? A classic — read it for free on Project Gutenberg.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The first book in Rothfuss’s epic fantasy series, the Kingkiller Chronicles, is an bewitching story of magic, heroism and adventure that is both refreshing and relatable. The protagonist, Kvothe, tells the story of how he became the most infamous man in the world, considered both a legendary hero and abominable villain throughout his youth. The first installment focuses on Kvothe’s time as the youngest student ever admitted to study magic at the prestigious Arcanum.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

A page-turning mystery, and so much more. Set in the 1950s and '60s, the novel is about Kya (the "Marsh Girl") as, both intensely private and unbelievably brave, she ventures into the world after living alone most of her life. Nature writer Owens' beautiful descriptions of North Carolina's coastal marshlands and their plant and animal life make Where the Crawdads Sing come alive to all your senses. 

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Huxley’s dystopian 1932 novel describes a world where social conditioning is the norm and human beings are mass produced and scientifically manufactured to fit into a strict social caste system. He writes with a scientific background and explores individualism in an environment where you are cast out when you do not follow the status quo.

Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin

These early essays by one of the most important writers of the 20th century were written in the '40s and '50s when Baldwin was in his twenties. They make an excellent introduction to his thinking and to novels like If Beale Street Could Talk and I Am Not Your Negro (also well worth reading; both were recently made into outstanding films).

Over Easy by Mimi Pond

In this semi-memoir graphic novel, shy, awkward art student Margaret gets a job waiting tables at the Imperial Café in Oakland, CA in the '70s. At first it's not clear if she will ever succeed as a waitress much less an artist, but as she learns the ropes — and finds tons of material in the quirky people she works with and befriends (fabulously illustrated) — she finds herself growing into the more confident young woman her boss irreverently dubs "Madge."

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

In a remote northern town, life (for kids and adults alike) revolves around the local ice rink and youth hockey program. Young players dream of a career in the NHL. Then a crime and its aftermath rip the community in two. Relationships are sundered, and new alliances form. Suspenseful and lyrical, one of Backman's great talents is creating teen and adult characters of equal importance and believability. Suspenseful and lyrical, you'll want to talk about this to someone else who's read it when you're done.

The Splendid and the Vile: A Sage of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson

Erik Larson has written a number of gripping non-fiction books including The Devil in the White City. His newest looks at how Winston Churchill (elected Prime Minster during Hitler's invasion of Europe) held England together as the bombs rained down on London. Woven from a variety of previously unexplored sources, included personal diaries, it's a domestic as well as historical drama.

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

In her brilliant debut novel, young Irish writer Rooney tells the story of Frances, a university student, and her experiences with love and friendship. Rooney, a "psychological portraitist" who writes with "fierce clarity" (The New Yorker) doesn't back away from how complex and hard it it is to grow up — and to be human. As soon as you finish it, you will want to re-read it — or reach for Rooney's second novel, Normal People.

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

This coming-of-age story follows two young girls as they grow up under the care of various relatives and battle never-ending loss and grief. Housekeeping (the first novel by Marilynne Robinson, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and a National Humanities Medal) explores the transient nature of all things, like beauty and happiness. Robinson's prose is haunting and evocative; this book will stay with you.

We're all looking for ways to entertain ourselves and spend quality time with the family or friends during social distancing. Along with an entertaining book, you can also mix up your routine with our suggestions for family board games, movie and TV shows to binge, or popular video games to play

We'll update this list regularly — feel free to send us your own recommendations!

We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and receive a small fee when purchases are made through links to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. 

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