As you all know, it is that festive time of the year; it is almost Christmas break. Frankly, as much as I appreciate the carols, food and red-green-gold decoration trio, I am mostly excited about the break part because this is a once-a-year opportunity to remind myself why I belong with the Ozers… That’s right kids, I will get to see my parents this break and I am beyond psyched about it. It will be just like the old times; we’ll do a White House movie marathon or watch Reservoir Dogs for the billionth time as we eat junk food and do pretty much a rendition of the movie My Fat Greek Wedding with the rest of the family, over a giant feast.
It’s gonna be amazing.
So besides chilling with mom and having fun with dad, this time of the year also happens to be my “book break.” Once a year, I get a chance to read for pleasure and therefore my “secret santa gift list” for my parents (so not-so-secret santa) is filled with literary shenanigans or really useless information, that is useless unless I desperately want to woo one of the Noble Prize winners. Except for Garcia Marquez, no one can impress that dude.
Before college, thanks to my challenging high school teachers, we were strongly encouraged (expected) to read more than what we were assigned. Because of IB, I studied 1984, Glass Menagerie, A Personal Matter and many other magnificent literary works which belong to authors who are globally recognized and celebrated. My high school was the sole reason for my developed interest in contemporary Japanese literature and Murakami’s novels; the quizzes I took during my Junior year helped me to memorize quotes Anne Frank’s Diary; my skills on writing literary analyses developed due to the endless essays I wrote on the book A Thousand Years of Solitude.
However, not everyone is lucky enough to have teachers that I had or get the education that I got. Therefore I decided to give a push to those who want to get some reading done before they drown in mandatory college-level readings. Here is my list of 10 books that will change your life for the better:
1. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
What stuck with me: This witty, fun book is definitely not your average cult novel. It has humorous details with a touch of realism.
Awesome quote: “Ignatius, what’s all this trash on the floor?” “That is my worldview that you see. It still must be incorporated into a whole, so be careful where you step.”
2. Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami
What stuck with me: Complicating effortless lives through fancy language is not my cup of tea but this book is an exception. It is amazing how much emphasis and meaning this guy can put on such simple sentences.
Awesome quote: “As time goes on, you’ll understand. What lasts, lasts; what doesn’t, doesn’t. Time solves most things. And what time can’t solve, you have to solve yourself.”
3. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
What stuck with me: The purposelessness of the story, the way Samsa accepts the random change and how people around him change their attitudes as he becomes a useless insect.
Awesome (legendary) quote: “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.”
4. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
What stuck with me: The way Nafisi manages to interpret the struggle of a generation in the least political way, through 7 young women and a teacher.
Awesome quote: “It takes courage to die for a cause, but also to live for one.”
5. A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut
What stuck with me: It’s a book full of short essays and life lessons.
Awesome quote: “And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.'”
Honorary mention: His best work is definitely the dystopian short story Harrison Bergeron.
6. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
What stuck with me: The short version of the text was a speech for a college’s graduation ceremony, so it is very inspiring for young adults. Even though she is a feminist author, I would argue that it will fire up some courage in everyone, especially ones who are too afraid to speak of their minds.
Awesome quote: “There is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
7. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
What stuck with me: The way Golding changes the genre of dystopia and reveals true human nature without any censoring.
Awesome quote: “Maybe there is a beast… maybe it’s only us.”
8. Bossypants by Tina Fey
What stuck with me: It teaches you how you can accept yourself as you are and mock yourself without giving anyone else power to make fun of you. This is a skill you will need to gain in college.
Awesome quote: “When people say, “You really, really must” do something, it means you don’t really have to. No one ever says, ‘You really, really must deliver the baby during labor.’ When it’s true, it doesn’t need to be said.”
9. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
What stuck with me: This is SUCH an uplifting book. Honestly when I read it, I realized there is an explanation for everything and even for the stuff that people dismiss really quickly. My favorite chapter is on Bill Gates’ success with Microsoft.
Awesome quote: “We overlook just how large a role we all play–and by ‘we’ I mean society–in determining who makes it and who doesn’t.”
10. Sold by Patricia McCormick
What stuck with me: This book is a good reminder to not take freedoms or even high school education for granted.
Awesome quotes: “Instead, we linger over a luxury that costs nothing: Imagining what may be.”
Honorary mention for the list: Anything from Jane Austen for those who need to prepare themselves for some college level romance.
Stay kewl, kids