Lots of people, including myself, have included “read more books” on their list of New Year’s Resolutions. So I thought I’d compile some book recommendations to provide you guys with inspiration! In no particular order, here’s a list of 101 books I’ve read and loved.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (my all-time favorite!)
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Sabriel by Garth Nix
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Room by Emma Donoghue
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope
Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales and Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith (an underrated but oh-so-beautiful book)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (duh)
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
The Odyssey by Homer (I recommend the Robert Fagles translation)
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
It by Stephen King
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (even better if you can read it in the original French!)
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
Savvy by Ingrid Law
The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
The Once and Future King by T.H. White
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Hunger by Knut Hamsun
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
The World According to Garp by John Irving
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (love, love, love!)
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
1984 by George Orwell
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis (a book whose message is especially relevant in light of the recent election)
Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be by Frank Bruni (a must-read for anyone stressed out about college admissions and the Ivy League hype)
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida
salt. by Nayyirah Waheed
Killing the Rising Sun by Bill O'Reilly
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Night by Elie Wiesel
Ariel by Sylvia Plath
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom (this is the memoir that baby memoirs want to be when they grow up)
Cosmos by Carl Sagan
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
The Ethics of Ambiguity by Simone de Beauvoir
Black Skin, White Masks by Frantz Fanon
How to Become a Straight‑A Student by Cal Newport
The Color of Water by James McBride
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Road to Character by David Brooks
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (all of Gladwell’s books are great tbh)
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay
Our Numbered Days by Neil Hilborn
P.S. If you’re trying to read more in 2017, check out my posts about goal-setting and habits!
Thanks for reading! If you have questions, feedback, or post requests, feel free to drop me an ask.
+Click here for the rest of my original reference posts!
And even as we write this final sentence, the sentence that will not be revised, we confess to being certain of one and only one thing – we swear to keep, on penalty of death, this one promise:
We will live!
The Sympathizer is above all an examination of duality. The narrator is a man of two minds—a half-French, half-Vietnamese communist double agent who arrives in America as a refugee following the Vietnam War. Here, he is torn between these competing parts of his own identity: communist and anti-communist, French and Vietnamese, foreign refugee and American.
As he so aptly states at one point, the Vietnam War is “the first war where the losers would write history instead of the victors.” The loser, of course, being America, which always seems to dominate the narrative. And so begins the examination of a different duality: as much as we Americans like to delude ourselves with stories of our altruistic interventionism and exceptionalism, the sobering reality is that there is no clear “right side of history” in regards to the Vietnam War.
And while America has striven to own this history in a myriad of ways—in our books, in our movies—The Sympathizer, importantly, shifts the perspective, giving a voice to the Vietnamese people.
In sharp, searingly clever prose, Nguyen presents a complex analysis of these various dualities. For those of us who have been fed white-washed versions of history in which America is always Doing the Right Thing, forever the Hero, The Sympathizer disrupts these delusions. It’s a social satire, a spy thriller, a critical commentary on American interventionism and exceptionalism.
But lest you think it’s merely a defense of Vietnamese Communism, it’s not: Nguyen is less concerned with taking sides than holding everyone appropriately accountable.
Alas, this is one of those books that I appreciated much more than I actively enjoyed reading. It’s brilliant, it’s a masterpiece—there’s no doubting that. But for me it was a laborious undertaking. The majority of it is told as a confession (our narrator having been captured) and stylistically this means long blocks of text, little dialogue, and no quotation marks. The story itself is often amusing, but sometimes tedious. And yet, the concept is vital and illuminating.
This is a 5-star book that was a 3-star experience for me, which is why I’m choosing to rate it in between.
The only problem with not talking to oneself was that oneself was the most fascinating conversational partner one could imagine. Nobody had more patience in listening to one than oneself, and while nobody knew one better than oneself, nobody misunderstood one more than oneself.
All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory. Memory is haunted, not just by ghostly others but by the horrors we have done, seen and condoned, or by the unspeakable things from which we have profited.
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has announced the winners of this year’s fellowship — often better known as the “genius” grant — and the list includes a characteristically wide array of disciplines – we’re so excited for authors Viet Thanh Nguyen and Jesmyn Ward!
(Note: The foundation is among NPR’s financial supporters.)