I have always been a lover of books and reading. As a child, some of my favorite memories are from my weekly visits to Border's Books with my mom and picking out something new to read. Actually, the news of Border's closing was extremely upsetting for me, and still is. Even now, with a busy college and work schedule, I will make time to read a book not required for class. I'll even spend birthday and holiday money on new books, without thinking twice. Nowadays, I feel as though so many people make excuses to not to read, or feel as though they would be wasting their free time reading when they could be doing something else, and far too many kids from my generation and younger don't even like reading. This honestly breaks my heart. For those of you who still enjoy curling up with a good book, here is a short list of just a few of my favorite reads that I highly recommend on a daily basis, in no particular order:
1. It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
This book is truly amazing and will most likely leave you an emotional wreck if you can relate to the main character in anyway at all. If you've seen the movie but haven't read this book, I guarantee you'll find the movie to be disappointing after finishing the book, which isn't surprising. In a summary from Amazon.com, "Craig Gilner sees entry into Manhattan's Executive Pre-Professional High School as the ticket to his future. [...] That's when things start to get crazy. At his new school, Craig realizes that he isn't brilliant compared to the other kids; he's just average, and maybe not even that [...] The stress becomes unbearable and Craig stops eating and sleeping-until, one night, he nearly kills himself. Craig's suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, isolated from the crushing pressures of school and friends, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety." Author, Ned Vizzini, struggled with depression himself, and did check himself into a mental hospital at one point. Unfortunately, in 2013, Vizzini took his life. He left behind an incredible legacy, and sharing his battles helped so many conquer their own.
2. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
3. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Oh look, another book that will leave you crying. I was actually assigned this book for summer reading in high school, and wasn't too sure about how much I would enjoy it, but I was quickly proven wrong. As you're reading this both incredibly heartbreaking and heartwarming story, it's almost hard to believe it's all true. In the summary from Wikipedia, "The book recounts the unconventional, poverty-stricken upbringing Walls and her siblings had at the hands of their deeply dysfunctional parents" to put it simply. This isn't your typical memoir; it's one you'll probably love forever.
4. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
5. Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
Yet another book that is so much better than the movie. I will admit that this movie was actually pretty well done, in my opinion, and didn't stray too far from the book. But let's face it, the book is always better. For those of you who have seen the movie, or even just heard about it, you know what the book is about. For those who don't know about Silver Linings, here is a summary from Wikipedia, "The book is narrated through the eyes of Pat Peoples, a former history teacher who has moved back to his childhood home in Collingswood, New Jersey, after spending time in a Baltimore psychiatric hospital. Pat believes he has only been away a few months, but soon realizes it has been years, and struggles to piece together his lost memories and what has become of his wife, Nikki. He has a theory that life is a film created by God and that its "silver lining" will be the end of 'Apart Time' with Nikki. Pat embarks on a plan of self-improvement in order to win Nikki back. At a dinner with his friend Ronnie and his wife Veronica, Pat is introduced to Tiffany Webster, who has also moved back home after losing her job after her husband's death." This book accurately depicts what PTSD is like, and Bradly Cooper was very proactive in raising awareness about the issue when the movie was released.
6. Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, Series) by Maggie Stiefvaterbut it's so so so so much better. I actually got to meet Maggie Stiefvater at my local library a few years back and not only was she funny, but she was incredibly friendly. Maggie is also pretty awesome because she does all of her own artwork for her books, and is also the best at fan interactions on social media. In the summary on Goodreads.com, "For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human…until the cold makes him shift back again. Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human—or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever." It sounds corny, and maybe it is, but the series will suck you in, in the best ways possible.
7. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
is a fantastic coming-of-age story that will stick by you forever. Wikipedia summarizes it as a book that "deals with Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina girl, and her life growing up in Chicago with Chicanos and Puerto Ricans. Esperanza is determined to "say goodbye" to her impoverished Latino neighborhood by turning to a life on the streets. Major themes include her quest for a better life and the importance of her promise to come back for "the ones [she] left behind"." Some of my favorite vignettes are "Boys and Girls," "Marin," Darius and the Clouds," "Hips," and "A House of My Own."
8. milk and honey by Rapi Kaur
9. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
This book is a classic, in my eyes, just like the movie. Of course, this movie was very well done, but the book is still better. For those who haven't seen the movie, in a summary on Wikipedia, Cuckoo's Nest, "Set in an Oregon psychiatric hospital, the narrative serves as a study of the institutional processes and the human mind as well as a critique of behaviorism and a celebration of humanistic principles [...] Randle Patrick McMurphy, who faked insanity to serve his sentence for battery and gambling in the hospital rather than in prison. The head administrative nurse, Mildred Ratched, rules the ward with an iron fist and with little medical oversight." The book is a must-read, and the movie is a must-see.
10. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
For those of you who appreciate a great play, this is definitely one to pick up (another shout out to Stu for picking out another great read). This play is nothing shy of entertaining, and will have you hooked by Blanche's massive web of lies. Streetcar was made into a great movie, starring none other than Marlon Brando as Stanley. In the Wikipedia summary, "After the loss of her family home, [...] Blanche DuBois travels from the small town of Laurel, Mississippi, to the New Orleans French Quarter to live with her younger, married sister, Stella, and brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski. Blanche is in her thirties, and with no money, she has nowhere else to go. Blanche tells Stella that she has taken a leave of absence from her English teaching position because of her nerves. Blanche laments the shabbiness of her sister’s two-room flat. She finds Stanley loud and rough, eventually referring to him as "common". Stanley, in return, does not care for Blanche's manners and dislikes her presence." It is a fantastic drama that will keep you on your toes, while also having an unfortunate love/hate relationship with Stanley.
So swing by your local bookstore and check some of these great books out! I promise, you won't regret it.