By: Rachel Stewart
It’s almost summer vacation, which means the freedom of no school, but it also means the beginnings of “summer reading.” I know this makes most people groan. They don’t want to spend their time off school being forced to read for school, so many times they resort to Sparknotes. I, being the future English major I am, always read my summer reading books, plus a few more, so now I bring you my top 5 books that, if assigned to you for summer reading, I recommend you actually pick up and read.
In no particular order:
1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
This is a personal favorite book of mine, and one that I think has a little something for everyone. It has a dash of romance, some action, suspense, mystery, and some fantastic characters. Madame DeFarge is considered to be one of the best “villains” of all time, and Sydney Carton is definitely one of my favorite male fictional characters. Dickens writing is very easy to read and surprisingly engaging. Additionally, besides the interesting story just at face value, the novel explores many different ideas, such as revenge and the duality of man. Although the name “Dickens” may scare you off at first, I highly recommend giving this one a shot.
2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger
This book can be quite polarizing in opinions; some love it and some detest it. It is a classic coming of age tale about our “hero” Holden Caulfield, and I for one really enjoyed it. I think this is the perfect age to read it as well, so might as well take the opportunity when it’s given. Holden is really what makes people love the book or hate it as he’s quite unique and sometimes off-putting. However, if you do extend some of your heart to Holden, you’ll love him like I did, and easily fall into the stream-of-consciousness writing style that Salinger employs, making this book still feel “relatable,” even sixty years after its publication.
3. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
This is one that I actually have not read myself, but two of my good friends have, and they wholeheartedly recommend it. This book follows, just as the title tells us, the adventures of the title character Huckleberry Finn. Many shenanigans ensue, and not only is this a fun read, it also makes some scathing comments about racism, as this was set in the south during the 1800’s. Anna Starkey, who has read it, had this to say: “I liked it a lot because it was historical fiction, and there was a lot of action, coincidences, and irony which kept me engaged with the story. I think it would be appealing to kids our age because it is a coming of age story and it kind of inspires you to be more independent.”
4. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
This is one of the most popular books to read as summer reading, so there’s a good chance this book has already been assigned to you in the past. This is the quintessential “American novel,” and when I read it, I didn’t dislike it, and I still don’t, but it didn’t make it to my “favorites shelf” after I was finished. I think it was a “it’s not you, it’s me” situation, and with that being said, I still think it’s one that is very popular, especially among people in high school, and well-loved. It follows the “Roaring Twenties,” and one man, Nick Carraway, who unwillingly gets caught up in the mysteries of one Jay Gatsby. The writing is incredibly easy to read, and it’s not too long either. It also poses an interesting warning regarding the “American Dream,” and the downfall of it, and how hollow wealth can make a man.
5. 1984 by George Orwell
With the recent trend of “young adult dystopian” novels becoming ever so popular, it’s only fitting that I recommend one of the godfather’s of the genre. You have to appreciate the roots of something if you also wish to smell its flowers. 1984 is one of, if not the, classic dystopian novel. It follows Winston, who lives in a world that is seemingly perfect, with Big Brother watching 24/7 to ensure it stays that way. However, as this is labeled “dystopian,” the world is not quite what it seems and Winston decides to uncover what’s really going on. I really love this book, and after reading it, it’s impossible not to see how much it has influenced modern dystopias. The world is so eerie and fascinating, and although it is an entirely fictional world, you may also begin to see some of its aspects paralleled in our own world. Lastly, the ending to this book is stunning, and definitely one you won’t be able to forget.