We have put up our last book recommendation display of the year. We began last year reserving this particular display for our seniors. Some of our student workers and staunch library supporters are highlighted below. Take a moment to read their recommendations, they are insightful and surprising and fun!
To these wonderful students and to all of our graduating seniors:
We have enjoyed your time with us and wish you the best as you begin the next chapter in your of life.
Book Preferences, By Joanna Myers
Best Historical Fiction
Beyond the Mist lies Thule by Janet Neavles
This is an adventure tale set around 300 BC. It features Hugh and Mari, two children who are captured and sold into slavery. From there, they embark on a series of adventures to return home, meeting the Greek explorer Pytheas along the way. This is a fairly quick read, but quite engaging.
Best Children’s Book
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
This book is delightfully clever in its presentation, reading almost like a modern-day allegory or fairy tale. The story follows Milo’s adventure through the Kingdom of Wisdom. The word play and the references make it enjoyable reading for both children and adults.
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
This book is harsh much of the time, but it really sticks with you. While her parents are intelligent, loving parents who give their kids a good education, they are also selfish and unrealistic. The success of Jeannette and her siblings in the face of poverty and neglect is a truly remarkable story. What is most amazing about the book is how Jeannette describes every scene, both good and bad, with calm objectivity.
Anne McCaffrey is a science-fiction/fantasy writer. Mostly she is known for the Dragonriders of Pern books, but her other stuff is just as interesting. Each book, and they’re usually a series, starts with a fascinating aspect, like scientifically valid psychic powers, or deformed children raised to operate starships. There’s always a lot going on in the story because of the intricacies of the worlds involved. Because of this, and because they tend to switch perspectives a lot, they can be hard to read. But the stories and characters are very good, and completely worth it. Most recently, I read The Ship who Searched, part of the Brainship series. For a science-fiction story, it has a surprising amount of heart. The main character, Tia, is intelligent and endearing.
Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station by Dorothy Gilman
Every Mrs. Pollifax story is good, and this one is no exception. Mrs. Pollifax, the sweet, innocent grandmother who became a spy, is one of the best characters in literature. Each book is fast-paced and well-written, keeping readers in suspense until the very end, always ending on a satisfactory note. Dorothy Gilman has a talent for writing groups of characters, producing a diverse assembly of strong, believable people. Even the minor ones are well-developed, and the tension between them on the tour is fascinating to see. This is even better because one is a fellow agent, and one is an enemy. While this isn’t my favorite of the series, it’s definitely one of the best.
“There are no happy endings, only happy people.” – Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station
Book Recommendations, by Allen Schagene
A couple of books that I would suggest:
Democracy in America, by Alexis de Tocqueville
Storms of My Grandchildren: the Truth about the Coming Climate Catastrophe and our last chance to save humanity, by James Hansen
Democracy in America is a fine look into our past. It is written in the perspective of a French aristocrat and it offers us an interesting looks at self-interest rightly understood. The author uses this to suggest that if every man were to follow his self interest then the world would work itself out.
Storms of my grandchildrenthen comes in to show us exactly where this self interest gets us. The author talks about why we need to start thinking about our world offering us means and ways to reduce our coal emissions so that our world may be habitable for the future. These books offer us an insight to our world, through this idea of self interest. One author endorses the idea, while the other author despises self interest because we need to think about others.
Book Recommendations, by Brian Klosterboer
Alas, Babylon, by Pat Frank
Book that changed my life
The Power of One, by Bryce Courtenay
Favorite history book
Peter the Great, by Robert Massie
Favorite book I’ve read for class:
A Thousand Splendid Sons, by Khaled Hosseini (Professor Hamm’s Middle Eastern Civilization)
The Social Animal, by David Brooks
Book Recommendations, by Shuang Liu
Wuthering Heights , by Emily Bronte
It is the oddest love story that I have ever read. Unlike any sweet romances, the story of Cathy and Heathcliff is so intense and wide.
Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier
Rebecca has gone before the story started, but she is everywhere in the book.
Letter from an Unknown Woman
Peaceful narration, with extremely intense emotion hidden underneath.
Fortress Besieged, by Qian Zhongshu
I like the ways the author uses all kinds of sarcastic expressions.
The Waste Land, by T.S. Eliot
A poem full of metaphors, sophisticated, esoteric and alluring.
Le Petit Prince by, Antoine de Saint-Exupery
We can always find empathies from some details and dialogues.
Brandon Adcock’s Recommended Reading List
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
This is currently my favorite book (although Infinite Jest may soon take its place once I’ve finished it). This work really has so much to appreciate. 1) It has an intriguing premise: that a young guy’s friend drags him over to an old man’s apartment after his mysterious death (he looked ungodly old enough though). Turn out this young man stumbles upon a chest of loose leaf that the old man had been working on, which was an independent film criticism. Here’s the catch: the old guy was blind as a bat and the film doesn’t actually exist. That was only the first point. 2) This is ergodic literature, meaning the text is organized in such a way as to mirror action in the book rather than kindle-esque line-by-line. It’s challenging, it’s bizarre, it’s awesome. 3) Along with it being meta-textual (story within a story, the book references itself, etc.) it’s a wild romp that takes stabs at what critics in academia do. It’s filled with footnotes, appendices, vaguely intelligible jargon, and references other works that no normal person reads (i.e. some don’t even exist). I’ve not even spoiled anything you wouldn’t get in 20 pages plot-wise. This book made me think not only about humanity, darkness, and imagination but the nature of books themselves.
The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
This was the book that turned me on to reading. It’s a collection of short stories, which appears to be Bradbury’s favorite form (even Fahrenheit 451 began as a short story). The collection also taught me that science fiction can tell very real, human stories. Don’t want to be bogged down by overwrought sentences and layers of inaccessible meaning? Bradbury makes it easy to just enjoy the story and then come back wondering what it might say about humanity. Ray Bradbury is the type of guy that you read and you know he’s been writing every day of his life since he was young and imbibing his excitement into sentences.
Winesburg, OH by Sherwood Anderson
This is a guy who gets tossed around in the American Literature world but most people today haven’t the slightest clue on what he wrote. My English III AP course in high school divided us into groups to read either As I Lay Dying, The Color Purple, The Things They Carried, or Winnesburg, OH. The teacher stuck me with this one and I loved it. It’s an acquired taste at first but once you get past “Hands” with Wing Biddlebaum you may get hooked like me. This short story cycle really turns suburbia from paradise to dystopia in a way Desperate Housewives never could do justice. Above all, for me, it was the truest growing up story I ever read. George Willard, like many of us, discovers the dark side of his hometown bubble and needs to carve his own path. If you grow up in even a sort of small town, I think you could relate to what Anderson writes.
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
This little gem is something Dr. Kinkade shared with my Junior Seminar. Instant love. It’s the only commercial success Shriver has yet written and it’s not hard to figure. This one stars the mother of a high school shooter and exploring parenthood and marriage from a shocking stance. If you’re disturbed by it, good, that means you’re reading it right (the first time through). The ending is one that unsettled me, obsessed me, and ultimately satisfied me more than any non-traditional ending has.
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Currently writing my Senior Seminar Thesis on it and for good reason. This book is the best dark comedy I’ve ever seen in print. It’s one of the easiest Faulkner work to follow and brings something new to each reading. Fifteen stream-of-consciousness narrators switch through 59 sections to give the book an authorless quality that raises the question of what is true. Arrested Development fans may find some intriguing echoes.
The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Anyone touched by cancer and/or a vested interest in its research should look through this book. The author heralds it as “the biography of cancer,” digging not only at when humans first realized its distinctness as an ailment but also how complicated its research has been. All of this is told by an oncologist that felt people should know that cancer is no disease-of-the-decade trend but a collaborative research into curing ourselves. Could cancer be a more evolutionarily fit version of our own cells?
Robert Browning’s Poetry
Browning and Blake are my go-to guys for weird poetry. They were the ones that demonstrated poetry was fun to me. Browning remains my favorite for his dramatic monologue style of verse. “Guess how the narrator is a maniac” is the name of the game and the realization always has a resounding sense of disturbed humor.
John Keat’s Poetry
Keats gives the average person a poetry that teaches what its all about…at least to me. If Bradbury inspired my prose reading then Keats is certainly inspired my poetry reading. Read “Bright Star…” or “When I Have Fears…” and see if you don’t ponder what it means to love and live at least for the briefest moment. Far from an Emo starter kit, Keats shows genius in every sense of the word. If he’s not your thing, maybe Byron’s pompousness will cheer you up.
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
This comic strip has a little bit to teach everybody. It’s funny, sweet, philosophical, and reads like an old friend catching up with you over coffee.
Watchmen by Alan Moore
Where Adam West killed the integrity of comic books, Alan Moore revived it into the “graphic novel.” Don’t trust the movie, it’s in comic book form for a reason. Dr. Manhattan and Rorschach are personal favorites into what I think Superman and Batman would be like in reality. Let this one be a lesson that comics raise serious social issues under the hood of costumed vigilantes.
What I Am Currently Reading:
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
DFW’s most famous work and certainly comparable to the Norton Anthologies English Majors lug around. I’m fascinated by this man’s ideas, his writing styles, and why he took his life all too soon. He’s as earnest a voice as I ever read and smarter than anyone I’ve ever met. He’s the voice that I hope echoes through this century without changing pitch.
Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
Not for the faint of heart and undisciplined of will. I’m testing my skills as an English Major with this sprawling dive-bomb (pun intended) of twentieth century postmodernism. It’s wild and crazy with slapstick to ease the pain of not getting the point. Between him and Wallace, my summer looks booked as it is.
Most Recurring Work of Literature That I Have Yet to Read:
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
References to this work have occurred in every English course I’ve taken at Centre. I’ve read Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream twice and King Lear three times but they don’t get near the amount of hits as Hamlet does on the useful parallel scale. A few synopses and The Lion King can only get you so far. Heck, even “Infinite Jest” is taken from a line in Hamlet.
Loran Crowell’s Book Recommendations
I am a Math Major, so not a big reader, but I have enjoyed the following books in the past year.
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Bossypants, by Tina Fey
Her biography is so good! I really fell in love with her when she played Sarah Palin. She is so funny!
Book Recommendations, by Jerry Yang
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.
We read this book in Dr. Hamm’s HIS 120 class. I normally don’t read many books, but I enjoyed reading this book from the beginning to the end. Through this book, I learned the lives in the middle east, the suffering of women, etc. This book is being made into a movie, so it is interesting to think as a director about what you want to show as you read.
The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith.
This book tells story of Tom Ripley’s journey to Italy, trying to persuade Dickie Greenleaf to return to the United States and join the family business with his father the shipping magnate Herbert Greenleaf.After a series of stories, Ripley murdered Dickie and disguised as him and started a rich life. In the end, he is suffering from paranoia, but the author left the story untold whether Tom turned himself in to the Police.
Book Recommendation, by Harry Chalmers
I suppose there is one book I can think of at the moment that I really like. The book is Carl Rogers’s On Becoming a Person. It’s a book about having a healthy self-outlook and having positive relationships with others. In particular, Rogers emphasizes empathy, honesty, and unconditional valuation as key qualities that promote individual growth in ourselves and others.