Spring Break Reading List

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With the temperatures nearing the 80’s and half of the campus doing homework in swimsuits outside, it’s obvious that spring break is just around the corner. I am lovin’ the weather! It’s been sunny for two days now and I’m soaking in as many rays as I can. Usually when I think of spring break, I envision a toasty beach, lazy mornings sleeping in, the chill of the water after lying in the sun for hours, and turning page after page while resting in the sand.

Maybe that’s how spring break will be for some of you, or maybe even if you don’t have spring break anymore you’ll have the chance to take a vacation to a tropical place you haven’t been yet.

As for me, I’m ditchin’ the flip-flops, the bikini, and the sunglasses and exchanging them for winter boots, snow pants, and ski goggles. This spring break, I’m headed to a destination that recently received 11 inches of snow! I cringe a little with the warmth of the sunshine around me when I think ahead to tomorrow when I’ll be stepping into a place that could be below freezing. Brrrrr.

Nevertheless, I’ll still have a chance to read some great books. The place I’m going has tons of unique coffee shops that I’m planning on bopping into. What could be better than snuggling up with a chai latte, a good book, and my family? I am SO excited to see them and enjoy whatever weather greets us. I thought before leaving for spring break, I’d share a list of books that I think are perfect for sitting down with wherever you are and enjoying. Plus, the great thing about these list of books is that even if you don’t have a break or vacation in your near future, you can make one for yourself by taking an adventure with some of these books! Lose yourself for a few hours by immersing yourself in the pages of one of these:

1. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
This book is one that I can’t push enough. Yes, I’m extremely biased because it’s one of my favorites, but it truly is a good read. Main character Melinda enters her first year of high school with no friends and a huge secret from the summer that’s ripping her apart. This novel is filled with depth as far as feelings, characters, and messages go but is written with a wry sense of humor that’ll have you rooting for the main character to succeed for herself. This is a phenomenal book. Read it!

2. The Worst Hard Times by Timothy Egan
I wrote a review about this book a couple months ago. It is a work of historical non-fiction that reads like a novel. The book focuses on the dust bowl victims in Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. The details that Egan has managed to find through extensive research are almost unbelievable. You’ll be turning pages without realizing it while reading about the strength, trials, and small successes of the dust bowl victims because of the smooth narrative style that Egan employs.

3. Joe College by Tom Perrotta
Think you’re not having the most exciting spring break? Think again. Main character Danny, a junior at Yale, is forced to spend spring break driving the Roach Coach around his hometown. What’s the Roach Coach, you ask? It’s Danny’s father’s lunch truck. The book chronicles his romantic endeavors (and many failures) as well as his constant search for identity in a life where he’s torn between who he is at Yale and who he is at home as a working class individual. It’s lighthearted and an easy read, but really leaves you thinking.

4. Wilderness Tips by Margaret Atwood
Let’s hope that I don’t have to crack open this book while I’m in the mountains! In this collection of short stories, Atwood utilizes a backdrop of wilderness experiences, camps, and nature to write about characters struggling with a variety of inner and external conflicts. There is variety in this compilation so if one day you find yourself craving a story about the romantic engagements of a trio of sisters, and the next an eerie story about a camper who dies on a trip, Atwood is your author. The book is perfect for reading between naps on the beach or ski runs down the slope.

5. The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread by Don Robertson
I wouldn’t necessarily say that this book is the best thing since sliced bread, but it’s definitely innovative, quirky, and worth reading. Main character Morris Bird III sets out with a red wagon and his sister in tow, walking across Cleveland to visit his friend. That’s right, a nine-year-old kid attempting to walk across Cleveland. If that isn’t story material itself, the fact that this novel is set during one of the worst industrial disasters in American history should be enough to carry it through. If you’re interested in a book written a little bit differently than most with a plucky main character who will have you cheering for him throughout the whole thing, go for this book.

6. Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer
Again, like the Atwood stories, I hope I don’t have to scour this book at all for survival tips while I’m on spring break. I’m sure many of you have heard of this book, read it, or maybe even watched the movie that was made based on it. If you haven’t read it, I highly suggest it! Jon Krakauer is an author that I could go on for a good chunk of time about. His perceptiveness regarding both human nature and actual physical nature and the dynamics between the two is impeccable. In this true story, Krakauer uses power of research to piece together the story of Christopher McCandless, a young man who walks into the wild of Alaska in an attempt to survive on his own. The story is intriguing and mysterious and is enhanced by vibrant character profiles, precise sketches of the natural landscape, and Krakauer’s incredible writing style that has led him to the National Bestseller list several times.

7. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
This book has been out for awhile but has recently caught the attention of the masses because of the movie made about it. If you’re into books that offer a unique narrative style, and a deeply emotional connection to the main character and his family, this is for you. Here we’ve got another nine-year-old boy traipsing around the city, but this time he’s looking specifically for an answer to a treasure hunt he believes that his deceased father left for him. At the same time that all of this is happening, a love story unfolds in a different layer of the book. This book is multi-faceted and extraordinarily powerful in it’s complexity.
Sidenote: I bought this book on my way to Peru and tried to convince myself to save it for the 16 hour bus-rides we’d be going on. Long story short, I had it finished by the time we touched down in Lima five hours later. It’s that good.

8. Best of Tin House Stories by Various authors
If Atwood doesn’t suit your taste and you’re still on the lookout for shorter readings that’ll fill your time over break, this book of short stories is for you. Quirky, mythical at times, yet profoundly connected to human emotion, these stories will have you examining your own life because of how relatable they are. The trials of having a robot son, catching squatters living in a mall, and the fundamental wrongness in owning a tiny pet human are all included in this compilation of stories – as well as many, many more. Authors such as Aimee Bender, Elizabeth Tallent, and Ryan Harty contribute to this zany collection of stories that will have you wondering if these ‘crazy’ stories really aren’t just stories about all of us and who we are.

9.The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
This and “Speak” are two books that I go to no matter what. Written as a series of letters, main character/narrator “Charlie” expresses the difficulties of growing up and searching for one’s identity. He writes anonymously to an anonymous recipient who never responds, and chronicles his experiences as an unconvential high school student. Charlie’s voice is charming, perceptive, and beautiful at times. It’s an easy book to read, but not so shallow that you won’t find yourself connecting with Charlie and identifying with his struggles.

10. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
And last but not least, this work of historical non-fiction is another one of my favorites of this genre. Larson does an exceptional job of weaving the events of the first world’s fair into a piece of text that reads like a novel. Set in Chicago, this book follows both the preparation of the city for one of the biggest events of that time period, and also of the murderous Dr. Holmes who thrived in the city during the time that the fair was going on. Need a mix of history and suspense to keep your intellectual mind stimulated over break? This one’s for you. I highly, highly recommend it if you’re interested in history, Chicago, or just in a really good read.

Well, that pretty much wraps up my list of books I recommend for spring break. On my own personal list of books that I’d love to read, I’ve got titles like The Grapes of Wrath, and The Hunger Games. However, I doubt I’ll be doing much reading because I plan on spending a lot of quality time with my family, experiencing life on my brother’s college campus, studying for my GRE, and shivering in the cold weather. If you have spring break coming up, enjoy! If not, I hope you take this reading list and give yourself a little vacation from your life for a couple hours of each day by cracking open a good book.

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One response »

  1. Lots of great reads here! Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is one of my favorite books; I read it years ago and can still vividly remember certain passages. The Worst Hard Time is in my bookcase. I picked it up at a library sale a few months back . . . I’m really trying to add more non-fiction to my reading diet, and I’m glad to hear it reads like fiction!

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