Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Top Ten Books For College Bound ... and Beyond.

School is just about to start again.  The sounds of eager students who want nothing more than to get back into a normal routine can be heard in every neighborhood, city and state across this great nation.  Not.  Well, maybe some are eager to get back to school but for others not so much.   This is also the time of year that the questions come up, what books should a college prep student should read or should have read by now?  Love that question for a million reasons, but for the sake of time and space,  only one will be given here.  Asking this question  proves that books challenges the reader to consider another point of view.   It doesn't mean the reader will necessarily agree to the point of view.   It will however open their eyes that there are more than one viewpoint to every situation.  The reader's job is simply to consider the one presented before them.  Having said that,  these titles should be read by every student.  Not just the ones who will continue their academic endeavors after high school.

Everyone has a "'top ten" list of books students should read before college.  Each has its own unique twist and view of what makes good literature.  The list presented here is a mix of traditional and modern titles.  After all, the classics can not be ignored and a list containing only classical works is quite easy to do.  There are so many titles to choose from.  Having said that the modern titles are a little harder, some have been tested over time while others may not have passed the time test, it is  very likely that fifty years from now,  readers will still want to pour over the pages to find out what happens next.  Or at least be reminded of what happened next.

When suggesting a list of must reads for college bound students, it is important to provide a list that covers a wide range of ideas, cultures and points of view.  The following top ten list are titles that have left a lasting impression on readers of all ages.  The titles are timeless and they remain on librarian's must read list for years.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is without a doubt a classic example of  wit, wisdom and romantic story that even men can enjoy.  If reader's have not been introduced to Mr. Darcy, then life simple pleasures like laughter and love can not be experienced fully.

Everyone should know of William Shakespeare's Hamlet.  Plays are often difficult to read but this one is well worth it. If reading old English seems daunting by all means pick up one of the Everyday Shakespeare's paperback to help gain a better understanding of the plot.   The death of Hamlet's father brings to surface the lies,  greed and insecurities of each character in the play.  Specifically Hamlet who is determined to uncover the truth about his father's death.

There are two Russian novels that should not be overlooked but often are left off of lists similar to this.  Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago.  One of the best kept secrets of Russian literature which gives a realistic picture  of the Bolshevik Revolution from the point of view of a middle class doctor.  Another stunning view of Russian history from Stalin's gulag is A Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich written by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.  Both of these novels provide an unforgettable glimpse of life in Communist Russia.

Staying on the theme of gulags and prison camps, which admittedly is very depressing, but necessary to read about.  Two books come to mind that should not be missed.  Ellie Wiesel's  Night is a tragically unforgettable account of life in the Nazi Germany's concentration camps.  Along side that another book that should be read is The Boy In The Stripped Pyjamas by John Boyne.  Both of these books are life changing reads.  That is not an overstatement either. Both books are that powerful!

Harper Lee's time-tested To Kill A Mockingbird introduced readers to a small town that is turned upside down due to a high profile  murder trial.  Mix into that, a bit of racism and standing up for what is right makes the story one of the best in American literature. Frankly, one of the few stories that show lawyers in a positive light.  Atticus Fitch is the lawyer that every person would want to have on their side should trouble come their way.

The list would be dull without Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.  The scary vision of what a world would be like if every moment, thought and breath were controlled by a government.  Scary yet eye opening   What is most powerful about this work is that it stirs up passionate debate about how far a government should or could go.

The Alchemist is a new classic favorite written by Paulo Coehlo.  that should be on every reader's list.  It is a wonderful story of a journey to find one's purpose in life.  This is definitely a book to read over and over again.

Autobiographies rarely make the list of must reads most likely because they are not fiction thus not classified as classic literature. However, this list attempts to change the definition slightly of classic literature to include this genre.  One of the most inspiring and well written biography  is The Story of My Life by Helen Keller.  After reading Keller's life story there is simply no excuse for not going out and conquering the world.  After reading this, one can only conclude  that if Helen can make a difference, we all can make a difference.

This is just a small list of the best of the best in literature.  As the school year goes on,  more titles will be suggested but for now,  one of these ten titles should be enough to get started on a literary path to a well rounded reader's life.

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