Reading checklist: Must-read books you will never see on your syllabus
Published: Monday, August 20, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 20, 2012 01:08
The start of classes each semester marks the beginning of a fresh chapter in every student’s life.
This is a chance to continue past successes or redeem any past failings, and it is also an opportunity grow as a student in the undying quest for knowledge and intellectual fulfillment.
To aid in this journey, the University is not shy about piling book upon required book on our syllabi, and for that, one can always count on a heavy dose of informative textbooks and workbooks to fill his or her bookbag at the start of every semester.
While these books are obviously an integral part of a student’s learning experience, sometimes it is nice to kick back, relax and enjoy a book for pleasure rather than out of necessity.
If some of the names on this list sound familiar, they should.
Cormac McCarthy is noted for his work on "The Road" and "No Country for Old Men," both of which became major motion pictures that received critical acclaim.
Andre Dubus III, author of "The Garden of Last Days," is also no stranger to the silver screen; his novel "The House of Sand and Fog" was adopted for film as well, where it received multiple Academy Award nominations.
As you amass syllabi from your various classes this semester, keep in mind: the following titles will likely not be found on any professor’s list of required readings, but where enjoyable, thought-provoking reads are concerned, they are hard to beat.
The bookworm in all of us needs to be satisfied periodically, and, let’s be honest here – that Biochemistry textbook is probably just not going to cut it.
For your next lazy night in, I highly recommend checking out one of these fine reads.
"The Road"– Cormac McCarthy
Along with Andre Dubus III, Cormac McCarthy is at the top of the totem pole of contemporary writers.
The most widely recognized title on this list, "The Road" is a post-apocalyptic tale of love, loss and utter desperation, all felt through the hearts of a father and son.
If you have seen the movie adaptation of this book, do yourself a favor and read what McCarthy intended you to see and feel.
While the movie is a worthy look into the story, the novel truly does the work more justice.
"The Road" is a heavy and depressing read, but its undertones of survival and the eternal bond between a father and son provides one of the most intimate reading experiences one can find.
When each breath and each movement is carefully calculated and trouble can come in the human or natural form, where can we find humanity?
"The Road" seeks to answer these questions and more, and the result is another spectacular offering from Mccarthy.
With "The Road," do not expect a "feel-good, pick- me-up" read; expect to be fulfilled.
"Broken" – Daniel Clay
Daniel Clay’s "Broken" will feel familiar for those who have read Harper Lee’s classic "To Kill a Mockingbird," and the author is not shy about proclaiming Lee’s work to be his primary inspiration for "Broken."
While there are obvious similarities among the names of characters and general symbols and themes throughout the book, Clay’s "Broken" is a much darker and twisted take on the classic novel.
Within the book, readers will find characters that inhabit all walks of life.
In one facet of the story, you read about Rick Buckley, an awkward and outcast teenager who experiences a tragedy that send him into a psychologically deranged downward spiral that is as disturbing as it is intriguing to witness.
Other characters include criminals, teenagers discovering love and adults still searching to find themselves and their purpose in life.
In this way, "Broken" tells a disjointed tale that showcases humanity’s highest of highs and lowest of lows, all while maintaining an engaging and cohesive multi-tiered story line for the reader.
The conclusion in "Broken" ranks among my all-time favorites, and the overarching moral and meaning found in the last few pages is nothing short of breathtaking. That is not to say the story as a whole is not good – it is excellent – but the value in "Broken" really comes together in the closing paragraphs.
Read this one to its end, and you will be rewarded.
"Mercury Falls" – Robert Kroese
I discovered Robert Kroese’s "Mercury Falls" thanks to a recommendation of a close friend, and, boy, am I glad I sat at his lunch table in middle school.
This is definitely not the most popular and publicized title in the world, but Kroese writes with a masterful precision and wit that is rare in today’s literary landscape.
His writing is as funny as it is serious and stimulating, and that results in a remarkable read.
"Mercury Falls" spins the tale of a hardworking but decidedly plain journalist, Christine, who writes for "The Banner," a religious publication hellbent on predicting the date of the apocalypse.
While many sneer at the very idea of an apocalypse, "The Banner" believes the end of days is coming, and as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that the news magazine is justified in its forecast.
As archangels, angelic minions and the antichrist himself make their way into the story, "Mercury Falls" spills out as a brilliantly crafted tale of heavenly proportions.
Can Christine work with the angels to prevent the apocalypse, or does the side of Satan prevail?
No spoilers here, but I can guarantee one winner in this story: the reader.
"Mercury Falls" can be purchased on amazon.com and on Amazon Kindle devices.
"The Garden of Last Days" – Andre Dubus III
If you consider yourself a reader of any degree and have not checked out Andre Dubus III’s work, please slap yourself in the face for me and then continue reading.
Dubus III is a master of multi-narrated storylines, and his writing frequently brings several separate stories together in unexpected and remarkable fashion.
"The Garden of Last Days" is no exception to his signature style, and readers of the novel will find themselves unable to turn the pages fast enough in this fast-paced, gripping thriller.
While this novel never reached the mainstream market like his most noted work, "The House of Sand and Fog," it is every bit as clever and exciting.
"The Garden of Last Days" brings together a stripper, a single father and a terrorist plotting the Sept. 11 suicide bombing in a way only Dubus III can envision.
In one of the most surprising fashions possible, Dubus is able to justify each person’s lifestyle by showing their motives, their passions and their expectations from life.
His objectivity and deep understanding of these very separate walks of life is astounding to read and witness firsthand.
How is somebody able to positively cast the life of a terrorist?
How can a stripper have the deep-seated morality that escapes persons of authority?
What does it feel like to be a single father desperately craving the life of past days?
Dubus III answers these questions and many more within the pages of this novel.
"The Garden of Last Days" is a roller coaster ride of emotion, and the pen of Dubus III leads the reader around every turn with the honed-in precision of a master navigator.
Dubus III is one of the premier writers of today, and his work never disappoints.