Summer is approaching fast. Although there are finals to be endured first, there will soon be ample time to read something that you did not have to hunt for through the BU library website or JSTOR. When you read a work of fiction you will not have to explain in front of a discussion class what the author really meant by that, only to have your professor inquire, “But what did the author actually mean by that?” Like an inmate who has just been released from prison, you will have the whole world at your fingertips. With so many options it will be difficult to choose a book. Luckily for you, I have done the research. Or rather my mom is in a book club, so she has.
“Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” By Maria Semple
Genre: Mystery, Humor
When 15-year-old Bee receives all A’s on her report card, she requests that her family go on a trip to Antarctica. Calamity ensues as her mother, Bernadette, a former architect and current agoraphobic, begins to plan the getaway. When Bernadette disappears, it is up to Bee to piece together the reasons for her mother’s departure.
“Crazy Rich Asians” by Kevin Kwan
Genre: Fiction, Humor
When Rachel Chu travels to Singapore with her boyfriend Nicholas, she discovers that he actually is from a family of Chinese expats. She is swept up in a world of social competition and wealth. Kwan’s humorous voice tells a story of love, class, and family. Be sure to read it before the film (where Asian characters are actually played by Asian actors for a change) is released in August.
“All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr
Genre: Historical Fiction
As World War II devastates Europe, Marie-Laure, a blind girl with an interest in science, is forced to live in the citadel of Saint-Malo with her agoraphobic uncle. Meanwhile, orphan Werner’s technical abilities are noticed by the Nazi party, resulting in his being sent to a school for Hitler Youth where his skills can be used. This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel switches back and forth between these stories and eventually brings them together.
“White Teeth” by Zadie Smith
Smith’s debut novel follows World War II veterans Archie and Samad, their young wives, and their children. As they go through life in London they balance obligation to family and custom. Their children deal with struggles such as identity crisis as a result of coming from a mixed race family and living up to familial expectations. Smith describes everyday life with such insight and wit that it feels anything but ordinary.
“Uncommon Type” by Tom Hanks
Genre: Short Stories
National treasure Tom Hanks has managed to craft a collection of funny yet moving short stories. What would happen if a group of friends decided to travel to space together? Why does a billionaire feel the need to travel back in time to the 1939 World’s Fair over and over again? Tom Hanks gives us the answers and so much more in this pleasant read.