We’re going to operate on the assumption that you've already breezed through our original list of unassigned reading suggestions. Well done! Moreover, we will take this opportunity to presume that you enjoyed what you have read and that you’re clamoring for more. Therefore, in an effort to satiate your literary hunger, we’ve decided to cobble together a second reading list for you.
Once again, in no particular order:
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Ken Kesey) – Yes, that definitive movie starring Jack Nicholson was, indeed, a book first. Written by a counter-cultural icon, Cuckoo’s Nest investigates both the frailties and the triumphant spirit of the mind. And since it is set within the confines of a mental institution, you’ll be introduced to colorful patients and a nefarious medical staff!
Bonfire of the Vanities (Tom Wolfe) – Wolfe’s seminal novel expertly captures New York in the 1980s, amidst the avarice and ego of Wall Street, the racial tensions simmering just beneath the surface and the general melting pot that was (and is) the city. Impressively, this entertaining and electric book might just leave you yearning for the NYC of yore.
The Fault in Our Stars (John Green) – Admittedly, at first glance, Green’s stunning novel seems a tad depressing. After all, the two teenage protagonists meet at a cancer support group. However, despite focusing on a difficult topic, The Fault in Our Stars inspires warmth and hope as it vividly explores what it means to be alive and to love.
History of Love (Nicole Krauss) – Krauss’ breathtaking (and bestselling!) book tells the story of the curious Leo Gursky, an elderly Polish immigrant and an enigmatic 14 year old girl named Alma. The two are connected by a long lost book and a desire to close old family wounds.
Fortress of Solitude (Jonathan Lethem) – This semi-autobiographical, coming-of-age tale delves into the friendship between Dylan Ebdus and Mingus Rude, two Brooklyn teenagers. With his delightful prose, Lethem manages to create a rich tapestry that touches upon everything from superheroes and hip hop to ideas about memory and loyalty.
A Visit from the Goon Squad (Jennifer Egan) – A bestseller and Pulitzer Prize winner, Egan’s lyrical novel slingshots the reader through time and place. Indeed, Goon Squad introduces a multitude of vibrant characters, some directly related to each other and some only tangentially. Ultimately, Egan’s book is about the direction our lives can take and the unexpected and unintended paths we’re sometimes forced to tread.
Let the Great World Spin (Colm McCann) – McCann’s beautiful, evocative and heartbreaking book is inspired by and set against the back-drop of Philippe Petit’s historic tightrope walk across the Twin Towers. Similar to Egan’s story, Let the Great World Spin weaves together the narratives of a handful of New Yorker’s on this fateful day.
Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void (Mary Roach) - One of the most prominent science writers working today, Roach has a rare talent for making complicated and intimidating subjects accessible. In this particular tome, she addresses the obstacles and challenges of space travel. If you’ve ever wondered how astronauts deal with vomiting into their helmet on a space walk or how their bodies are affected after not walking for a full year, well this is probably the book for you.
Once again, happy reading!