8 Books You Should Read This Spring

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1. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Spring (and love) is in the air. So if the warm weather is making you feel particularly romantic (or lonely) you should pick up this beautiful novel. Marquez’s writing is as stunning as the story. And if any book has the ability to make me cry (twice!) then I definitely need to recommend it. Florentino and Fermina are two young people in love, despite the fact that they barely know each other. They incessantly write each other and plan to marry, but after time abroad, Fermina realizes her passionate relationship with a stranger was all built on the unknown, so she breaks his heart and marries a wealthy, established doctor. Florentino is absolutely crushed, yet he vows to wait for his next opportunity to confess his love again and win her back. Although he has many affairs his time waiting (he slept with over 600 women, like, what a whore), he never marries and never falls in love as purely and deeply as he once did with Fermina. When Fermina’s husband finally passes away, Florentino is there at the funeral, ready to win her back. Now that is dedication.

2. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

I’ve read Slaughterhouse-Five by Vonnegut, and although that is his most well-known book and everyone claims it’s the best, I think Cat’s Cradle surpasses it. The satire in this book is incredible and hilarious and infuriating and embarrassingly true all at the same time. It makes fun of religion, our hollow beliefs, war, our general ignorance and stupidity of these topics, and of course humanity as a whole. You meet a variety of characters that all reflect some of the deepest flaws that humans possess. The narrator of the book is researching one of the (fictional) fathers of the atom bomb used in WWII, who is said to parallel what Vonnegut was like in real life. While digging deeper and deeper into the man’s life and the lives of his remaining children, he eventually finds himself on a remote island. The last lines of the book made me laugh out loud and appreciate Vonnegut’s storytelling even more than I already did. I was able to close the book with a satisfied smile and shake of my head at our petty existence.

3. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

If you’re a big bookworm like me, then you have to pick up this book. The pages just drip with a passion for literature, both from the author and the characters. The main character, A.J. Fikry, is a grumpy bookstore owner who has an extremely particular taste in books and his opinions are impossible to sway. After his wife’s death, he completely isolates himself and turns to the worlds within his store’s pages. But that’s until two people enter his life: one is Amelia, a publishing company’s sales rep working with the difficult A.J., and the other is a baby girl who is mysteriously abandoned in the bookstore one night. It’s a simply wonderful story with deep characters, deep feelings, and a deep love for the world of books. 

4. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, then read Tolstoy. The book is very long (923 pages) yet the intricate weaving of the different people and their relationships is worth every page. I’m baffled by Tolstoy’s ability to be so elaborate with his characters to the point that they feel completely real. You become so involuntarily invested in the relationships (Are they getting engaged?! Will she be happy with him!? He had it coming!). And for a book written in the 1800s, you would expect it to be difficult to follow and comprehend, not to mention boring. But Tolstoy’s writing is never dull and moves at a steady pace throughout. I cannot imagine having the brain capacity to create all of these characters, their dreams and hopes and desires, their backgrounds, their relationships, their characteristics, and throw them all together. Yet it can be especially infuriating to read a story like this in our day and age, when people cheat and get divorced and remarry and have illegitimate children without batting an eyelash. But to think that a woman could be condemned from society for falling in love and following her heart? After I finished this book I couldn’t read for a while, because I was still so caught up with these people who I spent so much time with. I seriously didn’t know what to do with myself. Not to mention I cried for like, two days.   

5. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

I read this book for a class in college and became obsessed with it. Some of our class discussions were based on whether this book was literary fiction, sci-fi, or even horror. It honestly falls into every category, because although the premise sounds like it’s straight from a science fiction movie, it is so realistic and believable and terrifying that you can’t classify it as any one genre. It focuses on three children who grow up in a boarding school in 1990s England, yet when they finally are old enough to leave, they discover what their true purpose is for living. What is expected from them is far from ordinary, yet they have no choice but to accept their fate. I don’t want to give any more away because once you really figure out what’s going on, your jaw will drop. Ishiguro is an amazing writer, and honestly fucks with your emotions.

6. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

No matter which book of his you pick up, it’s going to be enjoyable. This book is made up of random anecdotes spanning from his childhood to his time living in Paris. Regardless if the story is a silly recollection or actually has a deeper meaning, you are thoroughly entertained throughout. Although his writing isn’t like, say, Tolstoy’s or Marquez’s, it’s great in its own right because it’s fresh and honest with heaps of wit and sass.   

7. White Oleander by Janet Fitch

This is one of my favorite books of all time. Even seeing the movie didn’t ruin it for me, because I thought the movie was wonderful as well (but I obviously suggest the book). The mother and daughter are some of the most interesting and complex characters I’ve ever read in literature. Even though the mother is pretty nuts and was put into jail after murdering a boyfriend (with white oleander which is poisonous) leaving her only child to live in foster care, she is my favorite character ever. You go in and out of different foster homes with the daughter, experiencing all the harsh realities of life.

8. We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

Oates writes dark and intense stories, but the characters always come to life right off the pages. This book, like all of hers, takes a pretty grisly turn, and you watch the downfall of what appears to be a perfect family. After something horrible happens to the only daughter, each family member completely falls apart individually, and Oates captures every step with depth and complexity and insight. TC mark

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