The internet is my favorite place for a lot of reasons; one of the reasons being book recommendations and the other being the way social issues can be covered, discussed, and brought to life all at the touch of our keys. The recent coverage of the Stanford rape, the killing of Harambe, and the election have had me all kinds of engaged in higher level thinking (something I can't always boast).
So the other night, while I was finishing up Glory Over Everything, I realized books are equal parts about escape and critical engagement. And, with all the summer reading lists that are floating around the internet, I felt like my two (opinionated) cents deserve to be thrown into the ring. This brings us here to five pieces of required reading for your summer, adulting self:
1. The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom(And it's sequel: Glory Over Everything)
Required Reading Match-Up: To Kill a Mockingbird
Important Themes: Race, prejudice, community.
No other book has provided me with all the feels in the way that The Kitchen House (and Glory Over Everything) did. Grissom's ability to weave characters, plots, and themes together is seamless, undeniably gorgeous, and brave. She tackles huge, heavy times in America's history in a way that feels as delicate as a lace dress.
2. The Book Thief by Markus ZusakRequired Reading Match-Up: Slaughterhouse Five
Important Themes: Power of words, death, freedom.
I struggled -truly and deeply- through the first sixty pages of The Book Thief. The darkness is heavy, hard to bear, and yet, the plot powerfully pulled me through this nearly six hundred piece of intense storyline that comes from a most unexpected narrator.
3. Gold by Chris CleaveRequired Reading Match-Up: The Great Gatsby
Important Themes: Competition, ambition, and consequences.
While I thoroughly believe this is an unexpected match-up, I also maintain the way these two books walk hand in hand. The subtle compare-contrast between characters and their circumstance is an element that runs strong throughout both novels -regardless of the initial (obvious) differences.
4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsRequired Reading Match-Up: Lord of the Flies
Important Themes: Survival, sacrifice, identity.
Of the five matches, this one felt the most obvious to me. Microcosm and microcosm, story dependent on the survival of the fittest, and political dynamics that are constantly shifting, changing, and transforming with the introduction of circumstance plays centerstage throughout the course of the novel.
5. Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreightRequired Reading Match-Up: The Scarlet Letter
Important Themes: Sexuality, double standards, societal pressure.
The balance of the outright judgment and subtle nuances of self doubt contained within both of these novels draws you in. Draws you in really intensely and drags you through the mud alongside the main -female- characters.
Go ahead and drop into Goodreads because you NEED, you need these rich, brave, perspective changing reads on your Summer To Read list.