More Reading?!

Reading for leisure seems like an almost impossible activity in college. How are you supposed to make time for that on top of class, work, sports, social life, eating, Netflixing and studying? Here’s the thing though, it’s easier than you think. I read everyday, I’m not talking about my Physical Changes in Aging textbook either, I’m talking books like Divergent, The Notebook, all of those books that don’t require a highlighter to read them. Believe it or not it’s actually really beneficial to read books for fun. For me it’s a relaxing time period that helps me unwind at the end of a day and distracts me from over-thinking about the test I just took. So I’m telling you now that if you don’t already you should really begin to read books for fun, I swear it’s worth it. So here’s a few books that I’ve been told you should read during college or at some point in your twenties (and no not all of them are trashy romance novels or anything like that!). I’ve only actually read one of these books on this list (The Last Lecture and it was one of the best books I’ve ever read) so I have a lot of reading to do!

The Mansion of Happiness by Jill Lepore
“How does life begin? What does it mean? What happens when we die? “All anyone can do is ask,” Lepore writes. “That’s why any history of ideas about life and death has to be, like this book, a history of curiosity.” Lepore starts that history with the story of a seventeenth-century Englishman who had the idea that all life begins with an egg, and ends it with an American who, in the 1970s, began freezing the dead. In between, life got longer, the stages of life multiplied, and matters of life and death moved from the library to the laboratory, from the humanities to the sciences. Lately, debates about life and death have determined the course of American politics. Each of these debates has a history. Investigating the surprising origins of the stuff of everyday life—from board games to breast pumps—Lepore argues that the age of discovery, Darwin, and the Space Age turned ideas about life on earth topsy-turvy. “New worlds were found,” she writes, and “old paradises were lost.” As much a meditation on the present as an excavation of the past, The Mansion of Happiness is delightful, learned, and altogether beguiling.” -Amazon

What She Saw by Lucinda Rosenfeld
“Plagued with weird parents, an underdeveloped body, and a mind on the verge of self-deconstruction, Phoebe Fine feels ill-equipped for a journey through the hardening chambers of the late twentieth-century heart. But from fifth grade and Roger Mancuso, equal parts baby Brando and court jester, through her early adult life with New Media executive Neil Schmertz, a babytalker who prefers spooning to sex, Phoebe trudges defiantly through guyland, armed with a tart tongue, and propelled by an insatiable desire to be loved.” -Amazon

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
“Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who—from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother and rebellious sister—dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, finding love. But Oscar may never get what he wants. Blame the fukú—a curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, following them on their epic journey from Santo Domingo to the USA. Encapsulating Dominican-American history, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao opens our eyes to an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and explores the endless human capacity to persevere—and risk it all—in the name of love.” -Amazon

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
“As children Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special–and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together.” -Amazon

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
“A gargantuan, mind-altering comedy about the pursuit of happiness in America. Set in an addicts’ halfway house and a tennis academy, and featuring the most endearingly screwed-up family to come along in recent fiction, Infinite Jest explores essential questions about what entertainment is and why it has come to so dominate our lives; about how our desire for entertainment affects our need to connect with other people; and about what the pleasures we choose say about who we are.” -Amazon

The Group by Mary McCarthy
“Mary McCarthy’s most celebrated novel follows the lives of eight Vassar graduates, known simply to their classmates as “the group.” An eclectic mix of personalities and upbringings, they meet a week after graduation to watch Kay Strong get married. After the ceremony, the women begin their adult lives—traveling to Europe, tackling the worlds of nursing and publishing, and finding love and heartbreak in the streets of New York City. Through the years, some of the friends grow apart and some become entangled in each other’s affairs, but all vow not to become like their mothers and fathers. It is only when one of them passes away that they all come back together again to mourn the loss of a friend, a confidante, and most importantly, a member of the group” -Amazon

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
“A mordant, wickedly subversive parable set in a mental ward, the novel chronicles the head-on collision between its hell-raising, life-affirming hero Randle Patrick McMurphy and the totalitarian rule of Big Nurse. McMurphy swaggers into the mental ward like a blast of fresh air and turns the place upside down, starting a gambling operation, smuggling in wine and women, and egging on the other patients to join him in open rebellion. But McMurphy’s revolution against Big Nurse and everything she stands for quickly turns from sport to a fierce power struggle with shattering results.” -Amazon

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a story about what it’s like to travel that strange course through the uncharted territory of high school. The world of first dates, family dramas, and new friends. Of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Of those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.” -Amazon

Pastoralia by George Saunders
“George Saunders imagines a near future where capitalism has run amok. Consumption and the service economy rule the earth. The Haves are grotesque beings, mutilated by their crass desires and impossible wealth. The Have Nots are no less crippled, both emotionally and physically, by their inferior status. It’s a kind of Westworld scenario, but instead of robots, the serving wenches, bellboys, and extras are real people, all of them mercilessly indentured by the free market.” -Amazon

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
“Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic.” -Amazon

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
“It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.” -Amazon

Generation X by Douglas Coupland
“Andy, Claire, and Dag, each in their twenties, have quit “pointless jobs done grudgingly to little applause” in their respective hometowns and cut themselves adrift on the California desert. In search of the drastic changes that will lend meaning to their lives, they’ve mired themselves in the detritus of American cultural memory. Refugees from history, the three develop an ascetic regime of story-telling, boozing, and working McJobs–“low-pay, low-prestige, low-benefit, no-future jobs in the service industry.” They create modern fables of love and death among the cosmetic surgery parlors and cocktail bars of Palm Springs, disturbingly funny tales of nuclear waste, historical overdosing, and mall culture.” -Amazon

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
“”It’s a pretty grim world when I can’t even feel superior to a toddler.” Welcome to the curious mind of David Sedaris, where dogs outrank children, guitars have breasts, and French toddlers unmask the inadequacies of the American male. Sedaris inhabits this world as a misanthrope chronicling all things petty and small. In Me Talk Pretty One Day Sedaris is as determined as ever to be nobody’s hero–he never triumphs, he never conquers–and somehow, with each failure, he inadvertently becomes everybody’s favorite underdog. The world’s most eloquent malcontent, Sedaris has turned self-deprecation into a celebrated art form–one that is perhaps best experienced in audio. “Go Carolina,” his account of “the first battle of my war against the letter s” is particularly poignant. Unable to disguise the lisp that has become his trademark, Sedaris highlights (to hilarious extent) the frustration of reading “childish s-laden texts recounting the adventures of seals or settlers named Sassy or Samuel.” -Amazon

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
“When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave–“Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”–wasn’t about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because “time is all you have…and you may find one day that you have less than you think”). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.” -Amazon

Bossypants by Tina Fey
“At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon — from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence. Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.” -Amazon

Wild by Cheryl Strayed
“At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.” -Amazon

My Misspent Youth by Meghan Daum
“Meghan Daum is one of the most celebrated nonfiction writers of her generation, widely recognized for the fresh, provocative approach with which she unearths hidden fault lines in the American landscape. From her well-remembered New Yorker essays about the financial demands of big-city ambition and the ethereal, strangely old-fashioned allure of cyber relationships to her dazzlingly hilarious riff in Harper’s about musical passions that give way to middle-brow paraphernalia, Daum delves into the center of things while closely examining the detritus that spills out along the way. She speaks to questions at the root of the contemporary experience, from the search for authenticity and interpersonal connection in a society defined by consumerism and media; to the disenchantment of working in a “glamour profession”; to the catastrophic effects of living among New York City’s terminal hipsters.” -Amazon

How to Cook Everything The Basics by Mark Bittman
“1,000 beautiful and instructive photographs throughout the book reveal key preparation details that make every dish inviting and accessible. With clear and straightforward directions, Bittman’s practical tips and variation ideas, and visual cues that accompany each of the 185 recipes, cooking with How to Cook Everything The Basics is like having Bittman in the kitchen with you.” -Amazon

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About alliegatormu

Hey I'm Allison or otherwise known as Alligator. I am currently a senior (yay grad school!) at MU studying speech-language pathology. I love MU because it reminds me of my high school; it's a tight-knit community where people hold doors for you no matter how far away you are. My favorite time on campus is in the fall, it is absolutely gorgeous. When I'm not studying I'm either reading or watching Netflix (yes I am a junkie). I also really love food, so cooking and baking are fun too!

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