With the pandemic raging and social distancing orders in place, people are spending far more time at home. And, in spite of our 21st century technological dependencies, it is the old world habits that have brought us the most comfort. From baking and cooking to reading, we’ve rediscovered the joy of slowing down.
Another habit that can provide a temporary escape from the dystopian conflicts we’re experiencing right now — reading.
Far too often, people associate reading with homework: the late night assignments, annotating textbooks, digesting information and regurgitating it for exams. Those anxiety-leaden memories can keep people, especially students, from reading for the sheer pleasure of it.
It’s also true that many of the greatest, most celebrated works of fiction are actually pretty bleak. Most of our favorite novels explore big questions: free will versus fate, morality, heartbreak and suffering, death and destruction.
And yet exploring these ideas, the fundamental nature of humanity, helps us.
So when my graduating seniors asked for book recommendations, so that they could continue reading – for fun – I wondered what to recommend. Novels or nonfiction, classics or contemporary literature?
I decided on all of the above.
I polled friends and colleagues and even posted the question on Twitter. I loved the
response, and encourage everyone to look through the thread and reply with their own suggestions here.
There are great suggestions on this list, ranging from young adult novels and contemporary fiction to well-established canonical works. Most importantly, it’s a glimpse at what people are reading and thinking and the enthusiasm that we share for great stories.
1984 by George Orwell
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Beloved by Toni Morrison.
Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
Crime And Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
The Grapes Of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Go Tell it On the Mountain by James Baldwin
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Our Mathematical Universe by Max Tegmark
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
The Stranger by Albert Camus
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Revolutionary Road Richard Yates
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
This is definitely not an exhaustive list and, surely, there will be titles here that some will disagree with. Please scroll through the suggestions on Twitter and add your own.