Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Graduates...What to read now?!
My daughter graduated from high school this past week-end. While I sat and listened to the faculty speaker and watched droves of students accept their diplomas I fantasized about what I would say if I were the speaker. Never mind what I thought I'd say because I soon set my brain to the challenge of making recommendations of good books for graduates to read some time in their lifetime. This thought then morphed into an idea for a blog post, this blog post.
For many individuals not going on to college high school will be the last time that anyone tells you what to read or how much to read (25 books a year is the recommendation at my school.) Selection of reading materials will now be a personal choice. Here are a few recommendations from me:
1. Read for information---Want to know more about a subject? Read a book and you will find yourself becoming a mini expert on the topic. I recommend anything by Bill Bryson, Mary Roach, Erik Larsen, David McCullough, or Jim Murphy.
2. Travel to other lands without leaving home--- books open up other lands and cultures. Books can be about traveling such as any book by Rick Steves or they can be stories that will entertain and enlighten at the same time. A few books I really like about other cultures are: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (India); The Power of One by Bryce Courtney (South Africa); #1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith (Botswana); A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute (Australia); and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Afghanistan.)
3. Read or re-read some of the classics. You may be surprised how much you enjoy these books if you don't have to read them. Read the books that everyone else seems to talk about but for some reason you've never had the time or interest before. Feel free to watch the movie before you read the book or listen to an audio version of the book. Here are a few I suggest: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen; To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov; Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury; Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
4. Get to know an author and read everything they've written or try an author whose body of work deserves a peek. May I suggest: Barbara Kingsolver; Annie Lamott; John Green; and, of course, Jane Austen. Try Kurt Vonnegut; Cormac McCarthy; Philip Roth; Ivan Doig; and Mark Twain.
5. Try books in a variety of genres or join a book club and make a commitment to read whatever the group suggests. I am often pleasantly surprised when I read books that I would never have selected on my own. Talk to others about books. Find out what people are reading.
6. Visit your public library. Librarians are great resources. Use them!
Whatever you do. Wherever you go. Read. READ. READ.