The summer months are only a few weeks away! For those involved in academics, whether that be students or teachers, it means time to set aside what’s required and dive into some recreational reading! I was asked to put together a list of books that students might find interesting to read, so here they are!
It’s so hard to find good young adult novels, at least from my middle-aged perspective, and I’d like to think I’ve invested enough time reading YA that I can make that claim, but for me, you can’t go wrong with any book by John Green. His novels are interesting on the surface, but also always seem to have a second, deeper level of meaning that can be read into them. I never walk away from a John Green book without something to think about, and that’s what I like in books. My favorites are A Fault in our Stars, Turtles All the Way Down, and Paper Towns in that order. Argue with me if you’d like.
If Thirteen Reasons Why was interesting to you, give All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven a try. Actually, if you didn’t like or haven’t read Thirteen Reasons Why, give All the Bright Places a try. It approaches the topic of teenage suicide in a much more nuanced, thoughtful direction.
If you like John Green, give The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider a try. It will also appeal to fans of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Great Gatsby, and The Catcher in the Rye. It’s a lovely coming-of-age novel about a high school student whose life takes an unexpected turn. Vague, I know, but I don’t want to give anything away.
And finally The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. I picked this up a few years ago simply because I liked the title. The Earth’s rotation is beginning to slow down. If this horrifying notion of life possibly ending on earth sounds bad, try also being a middle school student navigating with what love is and family dynamics. It’s good stuff.
I’m swinging for the fences on this first recommendation – J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. If you are looking for something to completely invest yourself in, for high adventure, for storytelling so epic it feels Biblical, for perhaps the richest world building in literature, this is your series. It’s daunting, yes, but the reward is immeasurable. Give it a try if you haven’t. Give it another read if it’s been a while.
If LOTR is too dense, then try The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. It’s wonderful fantasy storytelling in every way one enjoys fantasy storytelling. It is the first of a trilogy, of which we are all anxiously awaiting the third which has yet to be published. (Or even written?)
If you dig Thor and his crew, check out some of the original source material in Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology. If you’re looking for something a little less centuries old, try Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane which is a delightful modern fantasy novel.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman is perhaps the most endearing and touching work of fiction I’ve read in a couple of years. It’s the absolutely beautiful story of Ove who, now elderly, attempts to navigate the world around him as some new neighbors move in next door. It’s really funny, really heartbreaking, really beautiful…what life is.
Philosophy? Yes, philosophy. If you’ve always wanted to read philosophy but titles like Principia Mathematica or Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals intimidates you (I haven’t read those either, btw) then try The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain De Botton. It walks readers through six topics such as unpopularity, not having enough money, and a broken heart through the eyes of a specific philosopher. It’s very accessible and amusing. It even has pictures!
Poetry? Yes, poetry. There’s no surprise on this recommendation for anyone who knows me well. Mary Oliver is the poet who speaks so clearly to my essence. I’d recommend any of her books but for this list, let’s go with New and Selected Poems Volume Two. If you have any connection to nature (which I’d argue we all do whether we realize it or not) and the strangeness of experience, she is your poet! Please read her.
There’s much, much, much more where that came from. If you want more recommendations, just let me know!