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We’re all busy college students– almost no one has time to read for pleasure. However, these books are 100% worth the time. Get some brain juices flowing outside of academics with these five great reads. 

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

By: Jonathan Safron Foer

Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is an inventor, amateur entomologist, Francophile, letter writer, pacifist, natural historian, percussionist, romantic, Great Explorer, jeweller, detective, vegan, and collector of butterflies. When his father is killed in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre, Oskar sets out to solve the mystery of a key he discovers in his father’s closet. It is a search which leads him into the lives of strangers, through the five boroughs of New York, into history, to the bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima, and on an inward journey which brings him ever closer to some kind of peace.”

This is my favorite book of all time. It is so incredibly creative it blew me away, and the writing is some of the most unique you will ever see. Trust me — this one is worth the read. 

Their Eyes Were Watching God

By: Zora Neale Hurston

Fair and long-legged, independent and articulate, Janie Crawford sets out to be her own person — no mean feat for a black woman in the ’30s. Janie’s quest for identity takes her through three marriages and into a journey back to her roots.”

I actually read this book for my AP Literature class senior year, and totally loved it. It’s extremely rare to like a book a teacher assigns, as I am sure you are all aware. However, this is one of the most iconic books in American history, and it is incredibly easy to fall in love with the characters. Read it!

Hippie

By: Paulo Coelho

“In Hippie, his most autobiographical novel to date, Paulo Coelho takes us back in time to re-live the dream of a generation that longed for peace and dared to challenge the established social order – authoritarian politics, conservative modes of behavior, excessive consumerism, and an unbalanced concentration of wealth and power.

Following the “three days of peace and music” at Woodstock, the 1969 gathering in Bethel, NY that would change the world forever, hippie paradises began to emerge all around the world. In the Dam Square in Amsterdam, long-haired young people wearing vibrant clothes and burning incense could be found meditating, playing music and discussing sexual liberation, the expansion of consciousness and the search for an inner truth. They were a generation refusing to live the robotic and unquestioning life that their parents had known.”

This book is all about 60’s and 70’s, world travel, self discovery, and hippies, of course. It is a very light-hearted book and an easy read, and I got through it in about a day. It’s super fun and definitely a must-read. 

The Immortalists

By: Chloe Benjamin

“It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

The prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

A sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next. It is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds.”

This book was on my want-to-read list forever, and I finally read it about a month ago. It took me a couple of chapters to get into but I genuinely could not put it down after that. The characters are crazy interesting and there are so many different settings and ways of life throughout the story — I’m forcing my suitemate to read it currently and now I am forcing all of you. 

Eating Animals

By: Jonathan Safran Foer

“Faced with the prospect of being unable to explain why we eat some animals and not others, Foer set out to explore the origins of many eating traditions and the fictions involved with creating them. Traveling to the darkest corners of our dining habits, Foer raises the unspoken question behind every fish we eat, every chicken we fry, and every burger we grill.
Part memoir and part investigative report, Eating Animals is a book that, in the words of the Los Angeles Times, places Jonathan Safran Foer ‘at the table with our greatest philosophers’.” 

Suprise, another Jonathan Safran Foer book — he is my favorite author after all. This one is very different from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, displaying Foer’s range in his writings. This book is very well-done, full of dedicated research that is not overwhelming and laid out in a very readable way. What I love most about this book is that he shows both sides of the animal agriculture dispute, visiting small independent farmers and ranchers and interviewing them about their practices. This book is truly an eye-opener, and again one of my favorite books. 

I’ve only got one thing to say: read more books! (And get them from local bookstores: Blue Bicycle Books, I’m looking at you.)

Tree-hugger & coffee-lover. Freshman at College of Charleston (currently Undecided). Love for All, Hatred for None.
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