Happy New Year! With a new year comes the inescapable (and usually unfulfillable) list of New Year’s resolutions. At a loss for realistic ideas? Join us in our resolution to read more — including and especially for leisure. If you’ve resolved to spend some more time hitting the books (for pleasure), check out our recommendations for a great start to your reading year:
If you like poetry or personal essays, try:
Bluets by Maggie Nelson is a beautiful essay work which toes the line between personal essay and poetry in a series of numbered propositions that explore love, the loss of love, finding meaning in the world around you, and the color blue. Nelson begins, “Suppose I were to begin by saying I had fallen in love with a color” and continues to explore all the various things that the color blue could mean or be brought to mean for her. Even if you’re not usually a fan of personal essays or poetry, this is a must-read. It might just change your mind.
If you’re a fan of reading prose fiction that veers more to the literary side, we recommend these:
The Secret History by Donna Tartt tells the story of six classics students at a small school in Vermont. From the first page, the reader learns of the death of one of their number but the story begs the question—what really happened? A thrilling, exasperating, and extremely well-told mystery unfolds between studying Ancient Greek, burgeoning relationships, and an exclusive group of young scholars. The end of the book comes much too quickly: it feels as though you could keep reading it forever.
Fantasy, mythology, or sci-fi fan? Don’t let these pass you by:
If you haven’t heard of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, you’re probably living under a rock. However, it’s good enough to be worth reemphasizing. There’s a reason it was turned into a TV series this past year. Gaiman’s work poses a central question: What would happen if all the gods ever worshiped by American immigrants came with them? Gaiman spins a tale of dying gods who fade away as the people who once believed turn to the new gods of consumerism. Be prepared to laugh and gasp as you work through Gaiman’s talented prose.
More of a historical fiction reader? Check out:
You might recognize Brooklyn from the Oscar-nominated 2015 film of the same title. But before Eilis Lacey was played by Saoirse Ronan, she was brought to life by Tóibín’s prose. Enter the 1950s and follow Eilis’s move from the Irish countryside to—you guessed it—Brooklyn as she navigates life, love, and loss in the Big Apple. Fans of the movie might not be surprised by the plot, as it’s surprisingly accurate, but they will delight in Eilis’s narration of the story and the illumination it brings.
Strictly a non-fiction reader? Try these:
From the Pulitzer Prize winner whose book inspired Hamilton: An American Musical comes another exploration of the secret life of an American giant, Ulysses S. Grant. In Grant, Chernow explores one of America’s most mercurial presidents as he grapples with the his own naivety, reverberations of the Civil War, and the consequences of being the president.
With all these books, you’re sure to never run out of reading material. Already read most of these? Don’t worry, there’s plenty more in the library catalog. Check out the list of 2017 National Book Award Winners for even more books to add to your reading list!
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