Must-Read Books

Noelle Natividad, Staff Writer

Researchers say that you will read around 5,000 books in your lifetime, an average estimate for millennial Americans. There are some that we love, others that we could go without, and some that we will hold onto forever. Books can have that effect on you.

It may sound overly nerdy, but I think it’s pretty cool. Over 17 years, I’ve come across some pretty cool books, and all of them have definitely made me think and reflect on my life. Below are some of my absolute favorites. Beyond the title or the cover or the reputation, these books are ones that I’ve grown to love and subconsciously, I really do think I learned from them.

All The Light We Cannot See leaves you with a sense of breathlessness. It’s the slow yet rapid progression, the build-up to seeing both protagonists meet, and the beauty of the writing itself that made me think of Anthony Doerr’s book immediately. Set in the midst of World War II, the war really just becomes a background for the childhood of two European kids: French Marie-Laure LeBlanc who is blind and German Werner Pfennig who is picked up off the streets for his engineering prowess. Both are incredibly intelligent and intuitive, and the novel really captures the ways in which humans adapt and respond to changes around them with resilience. It brings in the mystery of coincidence and the innate human curiosity that can be both a blessing and a curse.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell captured my heart when I was in seventh grade. It was the first real book I read that was over a certain number of pages, but every word was worth it to me because of what I picked up from it. The book centers around Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara, who begins as a charming, stubborn 16 year old. Her timeline parallels that of the old American South; she begins at the height of her years, reaches her lowest with the Civil War, and finds rebirth in her older years. This book is significant for its journey and most importantly, for its ending. It’s ambiguous and left me wanting to pull my hair out (not really, guys, it’s just an exaggeration of how frustrating it was), but it was completely all right. In the last chapter or so, Scarlett makes a complete 360 degree flip that makes everything worth it. We learn from her that change is possible, that truth cannot be denied, and that we have to recognize a good thing when we have it.

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin was a sweeter read, still with darker moments but overall made all right by the image of Saoirse Ronan and Emory Cohen as Eilis and Tony. Focusing on Irish immigrant Eilis Lacey’s new life in America, she battles a rough Atlantic trip, adjusting to the alien world that is 1950s Brooklyn, and deciding whether she was more Irish, more American, or neither of the two. I think this book is good for understanding the realities of immigrants and for recognizing how difficult times can be overcome. It was something I was able to relate my own immigration story to, and I think it made me appreciate the beauty and possibility of holding onto a native culture yet identifying as American.

A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks was, and forever will be, one of those books that gives me goosebumps and leaves me completely speechless. In a small town, self-proclaimed misfit Landon Carter finds love in the most unexpected of places with Jamie Sullivan, the alienated minister’s daughter with an eccentric personality and interests so far from his own. Landon finds himself wrapped up in a world that he never knew existed, and this time in his life becomes a marker for something so much more significant. His character transformation and his eventual willingness to let go of what society expects of him makes the book. It demonstrates the immense power of love and of how loving someone can change the very purpose of living. And guys, I don’t typically endorse the movie versions of really any book, but you’re definitely missing out if you don’t read this and watch the movie with Mandy Moore and Shane West. Also, if you’re weary of being labeled a sap, push through because this isn’t The Notebook Part Two in any way, and secondly, do yourself a favor and embrace your full spectrum of emotions for a short while because this book is so worth it.

I know it can be hard to find the time to read; I admit that I’ve hardly had the time to pick up a book that wasn’t for a class this entire year, but I really do painstakingly suggest that you maybe put off an episode of your newest Netflix binge and read a few chapters. From experience, there is so much that you can learn from books that TV can’t ever give you. It’s a hard truth, because I love my shows as much as the rest of you, but you really just fall in love with some books, and I think it’s more satisfying than finishing the latest season of The Fosters. So read these or find your own genre of jaw-dropping, heart-stopping novels to balance out your life.