The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
by Grace O’Meara
Many people are turned off by reading because of its often implicit nature. Deconstructing complex prose, and having to uncover meaning when half the words in a story are foreign to the reader can be really discouraging, and turns people off from wanting to read in general. The beauty of reading comes from feeling attached to the words on the page and this connectivity is necessary in order to fully appreciate a text and to actually enjoy yourself while doing so. This list is by no means exhaustive, since there are so many great books out there that are easily comprehensible and enjoyable, but these are some of my personal favorites.
- Tom Robbins- Still Life with Woodpecker
- The beauty of Tom Robbins’ writing is that you do not have to search for the meaning, as there is no set goal to be achieved in finding it. It is evident that Robbins has fun with his writing and makes the stories as outlandish as he can while still maintaining a flow and a followable plotline. I recommended his novel Still Life with Woodpecker to everyone I know because it has something for everyone. It is a modern fairytale of sorts, following Princess Leigh Cheri of Seattle to an environmentalism conference in Hawaii. In Hawaii, she becomes acquainted with a wanted criminal, “The Woodpecker”, and while she is, at first, reluctant, the story unravels and the reader is invited to follow their time together. The thing that draws me to this novel specifically is the fact that the subplots are not a hindrance to the story, but are actually some of the most entertaining parts about it. Both of the protagonists are gingers, and this feeds into a whole storyline about a once existing planet of gingers that has been replaced by blondes. Still Life with Woodpecker is extremely witty and hard to put down once you begin because of its simplistic open endedness. It is the type of book that encourages speculation and doesn’t force the reader to make sense of it, since Tom Robbins himself makes very little.
- Charles Bukowski- Ham on Rye
- Author Charles Bukowski is characterized by his nonchalant and direct approach to writing. His style is termed “dirty realism” which was a literary movement concerning the hard truths of the average American in the mid 20th century. This style avoids convoluted metaphors and other writing techniques that bog down a piece of writing, making the realistic stories very easy to comprehend. Ham on Rye is an semi-autobiographical story following protagonist Henry Chinaski as he navigates life as a child in impoverished Los Angeles during the great depression. The book tackles some heavy topics such as poverty, but the writing style makes it accessible and extremely relatable. Since the writing is so chill, it’s almost like reading a text rant from a friend (one of those really long ones that you’re not really sure how to respond to).
- Jack Kerovac- On The Road
- On The Road by Jack Kerovac was written during the post-war beat which makes it, like Ham on Rye, a timepiece. Arguably, I don’t think much background information is needed for these two novels except the time in which they were written to give you a sense of the setting in the story, since everything else is clearly explained in the novels. On The Road is more lighthearted though, following narrator Sal Paradise as he embarks on a roadtrip across the country with some friends, and the various people they meet along the way. Kerovac is able to stress, very simply, that every person you meet upon a journey is a romantic encounter and that you are able to learn something from everyone. Reading a book to learn that message seems kind of oxymoronous but I love this book because it so clearly states a message that often gets lost in everyday life.
If someone really dreads reading though, there is a slim chance they are reading this article right now. Though, journalistic articles may seem more understandable though, because of the shortened length and straightforwardness. These novels share this in common with journalistic writing as they are all under 400 pages and are fairly straight to the point (except Robbins, but that in itself, is exactly the point). Regardless of intention in picking up one of these books, whether it be to find something understandable or simply something easy to pass time by, something great can be obtained from each of these stories.