Rainy days sound perfect for adding to your reading list! One of my favorite hobbies includes reading. Although my preferred genre is mystery or suspense, my list has grown to include historical fiction, philosophy, drama, poetry, memoirs, and so many more! Below are some of my recent favorites and a must-read for all!
A Thousand Splendid Suns, written by Khaled Hosseini, surveys the role of women in Afghanistan during a period of intense political revolution. Similar to his popular and bestselling novel, The Kite Runner (another must-read!), this novel focuses on the lives of two Afghan women (Mariam and Laila) as they go through domestic abuse, political upheaval, and social stigmas. Although they come from very different backgrounds, they grow to find comfort and hope in one another through their shared grief and misery, and in the process save each other. Although a fictional story, the novel gives the readers a glimpse into the lives of women in Afghan society. You may get a little emotional but it’s definitely worth the tears (and time).
A Long Way Gone is a memoir written by a former child soldier, Ishmael Beah, as he recounts his experiences in Sierra Leone. The memoir chronicles the journey and life of Beah as he gets caught by the Sierra Leone Armed Forces when he was only 13 years old. Beah reflects on his experiences during which he witnessed and experienced harsh brutality, violent killings, and starvation along with other child soldiers. A bittersweet tale, A Long Way Gone is probably the most eye-opening and intense book I have ever come across. Beah wrote this masterpiece in a very clear and concise manner and the details and accounts of his experiences are truly remarkable and uncanny.
Spoon River Anthology is a collection of short stories and poems written by Edgar Lee Masters. One of the most creatively and uniquely written anthologies, Spoon River narrates the lives of people who lived in a small town referred to as “Spoon River.” The locals who reflect on their stories are all dead but send a message to the living through monologues and short poems about their deepest confessions, secrets, betrayals, and warnings. The poems are short and direct but carry a hidden message to the living. This is one of the most entertaining collections of poems I have ever read and would definitely recommend others to do so as well.
The Bell Jar is the only novel written by Sylvia Plath before her tragic death. The novel follows Esther Greenwood in the early 1950s as she starts an internship at one of the most celebrated and acclaimed magazines in New York City but struggles to find happiness or excitement. As a result, she becomes falls into depression as her mental health declines and mental breakdowns recur. Esther’s character is inspired by Plath’s own life experiences and her battle with mental illnesses and suicidal attempts. At the time when this novel was published, mental health was neither considered important nor diagnosed (or treated) properly. Because of the lack of mental health awareness, the book did not do so well and faced bullying and disrespect. However, in recent years, with increased awareness of mental health illnesses, the novel has been regarded as one of the sensational and influential works in American literature.
Dreams and Nightmares is another biography written by Liliana Velasquez. This is one of the recent books that I read in my ECG 300 class but is one of the rare inspired-by-true events stories of a young immigrant. Liliana talks about her experiences fleeing from her native Guatemala and coming to the United States in order to seek better opportunities and to reunite with her brothers. The book is pretty short and consists of an English and Spanish translation for the Spanish and American audiences. Liliana’s story is only a glimpse into the lives of many children who have crossed the U.S. border in the hopes to live a better and secure life. Her story is crucial to understanding the immigration crisis and prevalent myths in the United States right now. I strongly encourage people to read her story before believing in any stereotypes about immigrants.
The books mentioned above are just a small fraction of my reading list. I believe most of the copies are available in the Holy Spirit Library but if not, check your local library, or you can purchase them from Amazon, Chegg, etc. In case you want to get more ideas or different ideas, check out: And the Mountains Echoed, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Alchemist, and The Pearl. I hope this guide was helpful for your next read!