There is nothing quite like the escapism that comes from a deeply engaging book. Sitting on my couch by the window, drinking tea, reading and basking in the warm sun has come to be my favorite way to spend weekend mornings. I love how quiet the mornings are in my building when my roommates are still sleeping and my upstairs neighbors are too hungover for their typical thumping bass.
Here are some of my favorite reads of the past month (or 6 weeks, but who’s counting). Most I read for my postmodern American fiction class, which has been eye-opening and definitely taught me how to swim in a pool of English majors as a solitary business major.
1. Dreams From My Father – Barack Obama
For those who have been following my blog for quite some time, you might remember my post about activism and the rally I helped run after the election of my least favorite president in fall of 2016. In 2008, I remember watching the results pour in from the election in my 7th-grade humanities classroom in Bangkok, Thailand. That is how important Obama was. I was enthralled by his charm and manner of speaking, and his compassion. I was a Democrat long before I could vote. Political party aside, Obama’s story is beautifully written, full of poetic descriptions of life in poverty-stricken areas of Chicago, to heartbreaking sentiments of discrimination and loss. This is an important book for anyone who wants to better understand the nature of race relations in the US (which should be everyone). I cannot rate this book highly enough, and I have been pushing it onto all my friends since I’ve read it.
2. M Train – Patti Smith
Patti Smith is somewhat of an icon to me. Her resilience and persistence in the face of so many difficulties in her life are astounding, and her commitment to pursuing her own path is something I strive to emulate in my own life. This novel follows Patti later in life, living in New York City, drinking plenty of black coffee and writing in coffee shops. If that doesn’t sound like a beautiful kind of life then I don’t know what does. Apart from writing and drinking coffee, she struggles with loneliness and a lack of connection in a way that is so raw and human. It’s beautiful, and her photography in the book complements her words perfectly. If you’ve read this, Just Kids By Patti Smith is another one of my favorites.
3. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood.
The first time I read The Handmaid’s Tale, I was 16 in an English class I hated back in 11th grade. On my first reading, the young and underdeveloped feminist within me seemed to stir, and I got genuinely angry. And scared. I became more aware of my gender reading this book, and it gets more important every time I read it (I’m now reading it for the third time). The show on Hulu is great as well, although some of the character interpretations had me scratching my head. I’ll leave it up to artistic license.
4. The Dharma Bums – Jack Kerouac
Secret – I am a Kerouac fanatic. I read On the Road for the first time this past summer and kept it with me all the time even after I’d finished it. There is something in that freedom that really gets me, that openness to experience that Kerouac expounds on in his works. I could get lost in this book and happily stay that way.
5. Slouching Towards Bethlehem – Joan Didion
Didion, so timeless and poetic in each and every piece, is by far one of my favorite writers. I first read Girl of the Golden West in a literary journalism class and couldn’t get enough. I was hooked by her eloquence, her descriptions of things so mundane that she is able to turn into gold. I particularly love reading her work aloud. Her words fall like honey off the tongue. Didion taught me to look at the world in different and new ways – stray from the beaten path and go beyond. Life is much more interesting that way. If you’ve never read Didion, close your laptop, go to a library, and settle in for the most wonderful reading experience you’ve ever had.
What books have you read and loved recently? Also, comment your Goodreads accounts, and follow mine here to stay up to date with my latest literary loves.
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