Even though the school year has begun, it’s ever too late to crack the spine on a new book.
A Season of Busyness
With school back in full swing, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the responsibilities college life entails. Homework, social activities, and work can consume significant amounts of time and availability, leaving many of us with few opportunities for rest and leisure.
Though it may seem like somewhat of a chore, reading is, in fact, an excellent way to spend this precious time set aside for relaxation. It allows for relaxation, creative thought, and an opportunity to go into another world (at least in the case of fiction).
With the fall semester having started rather recently, I’ve compiled a list of four books that, in my opinion, are must-reads for this semester. Enjoy!
To Kill a Mockingbird
By Harper Lee
I’m sure that most of you reading this article have been required to read this work while in junior high or high school. However, this classic piece of American fiction becomes increasingly enjoyable the more it is consumed. Set in an Alabama small town during a murder trial, with civil rights tension at a boiling point, this southern gothic novel introduces challenging ideas and themes about race, justice, equality and the innocence of childhood. It’s a work that engages and inspires readers, and simultaneously reminds them of how the ethically right thing to do is not always the easiest course to take. With complex and weighty characters, and timeless themes, this book is one that can be continually dissected and analyzed, and enjoyed by readers of all ages.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
By Robert Louis Stevenson
Apart from this book, few other works have better personified the danger of sin, of ensnaring addictions, and of the monsters that humans are when given to their vices. Known more for his popular tales of adventure, such as Treasure Island and Kidnapped, author Robert Louis Stevenson was not averse to crafting darker, more sinister tales.
Set in the grimy and dimly lit streets of 19th century London – essentially Jack the ripper’s stomping grounds – this tale’s plot is centered on a doctor obsessed with the belief that he can control living a double life; he reverts to living as a morally upright citizen by day, and a snarling monster at night. As a particularly ghoulish story, on a broader level, it is filled with both suspense as well as provoking philosophical and ethical allegories of human nature, sin, and humanity’s condition. Though written over a hundred years ago, the implications Stevenson makes about morality still hold true, giving readers plenty of food for thought.
Across Five Aprils
By Irene Hunt
Though most narratives set during the American civil war are focused on the battles, generals, and soldiers of the war itself, this story is told from the perspective of a boy named Jethro, from the farm country of southern Illinois, who’s been left behind on his family’s farm while his brothers leave to fight. Like the previously mentioned To Kill a Mockingbird, it’s plot is centered on a child, and though it’s tied to monumental historic events, it retains its own unique, childlike simplicity. Readers share the same innocent unknowing of the politics and major events of the war, and instead, receive a unique glance into the lives and struggles, heartbreaks, pains and triumphs of the common people, a demographic that was rather overshadowed. With a straightforward and accessible vocabulary, and a plot that flows smoothly, this book provides readers with an enjoyable and insightful experience, taking them back to a simpler time in American history.
The Martian Chronicles
By Ray Bradbury
What if civilization and mankind expanded to other planets? In this sci-fi novel, author Ray Bradbury (more commonly known for Fahrenheit 451, one of his more popular works) gives readers accounts of such an exodus. In this tale of an audacious and futuristic pilgrimage, Bradbury doesn’t focus on one protagonist, or even one plot. Rather, he writes of smaller narratives and short stories, about both the Martins as well as the pioneers from Earth. Strange tales, tales of recklessly greedy men misusing the planet for their own gains, and of those merely moving to the red planet to begin a new life and to start afresh, pepper the pages of this book. Through all of these, he continually confronts readers with modern social and economic issues and how the human condition can drive people to do things beautiful as well as evil.
Though fiction, it has an eerie and lurking realistic theme to it, convicting modern readers of the similar sins society has committed in the past, and would ignorantly repeat, if not reminded and warned of. He leaves readers to ponder whether or not mankind will expand its reach elsewhere, and if so, what type of culture we would create in our new home?
Philip is the Senior Editor of the Daily Runner.