Adam Johnson$18.00 $16.56
The Orphan Master’s Son tells a captivating, humorous, and heartbreaking tale of life in the reclusive Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Set to themes of propaganda and identity, we follow the story of Pak Jun Do, an orphan whose journey takes him from fighting in tunnels for the North Korean army, to a seafaring kidnapper, to a spy in Texas and to a work camp and beyond. This is a great book for those who may share my morbid curiosity about one of the most mysterious and isolated countries in the world.
Art Spiegelman$35.00 $32.20
Art Spiegelman’s Maus uses “postmodern” techniques to tell its story of Germany during WWII—most strikingly in its depiction of a race of humans as different kinds of animals: Jews as mice, Germans as cats, and non-Jewish Poles as pigs. Spiegelman’s fiercely honest account of his father’s experience as a Jew during the Holocaust, and later as a prisoner at Auschwitz, is so engrossing, real, and touching that it is often a challenge to put the book down.
Marjane Satrapi$25.95 $23.87
This book a glimpse of life in Iran as told through the eyes of a bright young woman who comes of age during the 1979 Iranian Revolution. After Islamic fundamentalists take over the country, Marjane struggles to come to terms with the new oppressive rule of law. When the war becomes too dangerous, Marjane is sent to Austria at 14, where she receives a Western education. Upon her return to Iran, Marjane must learn to reconcile her conflicting identities and find her true self. Persepolis is a beautiful, powerfully human account of the lives, struggles, and dreams of the Iranian people.
Becky Albertalli$11.99 $11.03
Like an old familiar smell, or the first cool day in fall, this book yanks you right back into high school in all the best ways. Simon and his friends are charming, smart, and genuinely funny. Don’t be surprised if by the end of the book you find yourself pining once again for that crazy time in life where it feels like you age a decade in a week. Set in the suburbs of Atlanta, Becky Albertalli does an amazing job of telling a delightful, endearing, and achingly beautiful story of love and “coming out” in the South.
Tom Robbins$17.00 $15.64
Robbins pulls no punches with his sharp wit, hilarious dialogue, and curious philosophy in this self-described epic. The major themes of the book include the striving for immortality, the meaning behind the sense of smell, individual expression, self-reliance, sex, love, and religion. Beets and the god Pan figure prominently. Robbins masterfully navigates this funny, often absurd, saga with four distinct storylines, one set in 8th century Bohemia and three others in modern day New Orleans, Seattle and Paris. If you enjoy your philosophy with a good belly laugh, then this is the right book for you.
Neil Gaiman$9.99 $9.19
Written by one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, this novel is a blend of Americana, fantasy, and various strands of ancient and modern mythology, all centering on the mysterious and taciturn Shadow. Little did I know when I first picked up this book I was about to experience one of the most interesting and engaging stories I’d ever read. I was blown away by Gaiman’s ability to effortlessly fuse old concepts of myth and gods with our modern world. With each page I got more drawn in and by the end I was left aching for more.
Frank Herbert$10.99 $10.11
Set in the distant future in a feudal interstellar society in which noble houses, in control of individual planets, owe allegiance to the Padishah Emperor, Dune is the story of a young man whose family accepts the stewardship of the planet Arrakis, the only source of the "spice" melange, the most important and valuable substance in the universe. Control of Arrakis is a dangerous undertaking. The story explores the interaction of politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion, as the forces of the empire confront each other in a struggle for the control of Arrakis and its "spice."
Philip Pullman$36.00 $33.12
An epic trilogy of fantasy novels, this series follows the coming of age of two children, Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry, as they wander through a series of parallel universes. From witches and armored bears, to physics, philosophy, and theology, these books deliver hard truths mixed with magic and mystery. Though Pullman's publishers have primarily marketed the series to young adults, Pullman also intended to speak to both older children and adults. I cannot recommend them enough to young and old readers, alike.
John Steinbeck$18.00 $16.56
Often described as Steinbeck's most ambitious novel, East of Eden brings to life the intricate details of two families, the Trasks and the Hamiltons, and their interwoven stories. If books can be described as amusement park rides, this one would be a roller coaster ("I'm on a roller coaster of emotion!") as it often had me laughing, crying, outraged, and jubilant all in the turn of a few pages. I remember finishing it and just thinking, "Wow."
Stephen Chbosky$30.00 $27.60
As a fan of Perks of Being a Wallflower, I was more than excited to read Chbosky's newest novel, Imaginary Friend, and it did not disappoint! The book begins as a slow burn, but when it does take off it does so at breakneck speed. Creepy, unsettling, and otherworldly, this book had me jumping at small noises and looking over my shoulder for days. Whether you're a fan of horror or not, this book guarantees to delight and terrify all who pick it up.
C. G. Jung$17.95 $16.51
This partially autobiographical account of the life of Carl G. Jung was hugely influential in my decision to study psychology. As an eager young freshman at Georgia State I was assigned to read this book in a creative writing class and I still remember the “Oh wow!” life-changing moment I experienced while reading it in a park in downtown Atlanta. Jung opened my eyes to new ways of thinking about old concepts and ideas in this account of his life, spiritual experiences, and growth as a man. Definitely worth the read for those interested in a unique understanding of human nature and one man’s beautiful attempt to make sense of it all.
Robert A. Johnson$15.99 $14.71
Though at first glance this book can come across as “just another self-help book”, Owning Your Own Shadow delves much deeper into the reasons why people behave the way they do. Johnson explores the concept of the “Shadow” and sheds light (ha!) on this mysterious beast lurking inside us all. By recognizing and owning our shadow, we begin to accept others and ourselves more fully.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez$18.99 $17.47
Written in the beautifully poetic style of “magical realism”, Gabrielle Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude leads the reader on an enchanted journey spanning generations. This book is no fairy-tale, however. A dominant theme in One Hundred Years of Solitude is the inevitable and inescapable repetition of history in Macondo, the Latin American town in which the book is set. A wonderful read for those who enjoy complex, interwoven themes and storytelling.
Richard Adams$19.99 $18.39
This is a must-read for the summer. Set in south-central England, the story features a small group of rabbits. Although they live in their natural environment, they are anthropomorphized, possessing their own culture, language, proverbs, poetry, and mythology. Evoking epic themes, the novel follows the rabbits as they escape the destruction of their warren and seek a place to establish a new home, encountering perils and temptations along the way. Every time I finish this book I can’t help but feel like I’ve lost some very dear friends.