Chances are if you’re reading this, then you’re not in middle school anymore. If you are, then stop reading right now because you must preserve your reputation for “coolness.” If you are NOT in middle school then please proceed. As a college student or recent college graduate, the answer to the question, “What book are you currently reading?” should not be, “Pfffffff…who reads?!”
I admit that when I was 12, this was my response to every social media site that begged the question of what my favorite book was. I’m here to tell you that that does not make you look cool. It mostly makes you look like an ignorant asshole. So without further ado, delve into the starters list for anyone who hates reading but wants to give it a try. Don’t be surprised if you don’t make it out to the bars on Friday night, because you have become possessed with the yearning to know what happens next.
1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Everyone and their mom talks about this book and now, movie. Well there’s a reason for that. I’ve personally loaned this book to more non-reading friends than I can possibly keep track of and I’ve had to repurchase the book almost as many times (it turns out I have greedy friends). But that’s just the point. They didn’t want to give it back. It is a quick read that doesn’t contain unnecessarily difficult language and sentence structure as that it will scare away the less-than-ambitious reader. Charlie, the protagonist and narrator who is perpetually stuck inside his head, will make you laugh, cry, shake your head, fall in love (with him, most likely), and look at the world differently. This novel covers every range of emotion and will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it. Maybe you have never thought about the things that Charlie has or been through the trauma that he has, but his prose will make you wonder why there aren’t more people like him out there.
2. Looking For Alaska – John Green
I will recommend this book to anyone and everyone. I have a tattoo that was inspired by it and when I glance down at my hip, a certain zest for life stirs up inside of me thanks to this quote: “I go to seek a Great Perhaps.” It was the famous last words of a French writer/scholar but John Green lovers worldwide will more readily give credit to Miles “Pudge” Halter, the thoughtful and insightful narrator of this poignant and refreshing novel. If you don’t adore the hell out of this quote then I’m not sure if you’re capable of actual human emotions.
“I wanted so badly to lie down next to her on the couch, to wrap my arms around her and sleep. Not fuck, like in those movies. Not even have sex. Just sleep together in the most innocent sense of the phrase. But I lacked the courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was hurricane.”
Much in the spirit of Perks of Being a Wallflower, the book is from the point of view of a teenage boy and his struggle to find himself. It is one of the few books I’ve read that I would describe as overwhelmingly brilliant. Hats off to John Green.
3. Basketball Diaries – Jim Carroll
This book hardly comes to mind when I think of assigned reading and that’s a good thing for those of you who think that reading is uncool and nerdy. As the title suggests, this book is the nonfiction journal of Jim Carroll, a poet, rock and roll star, and basketball phenom growing up in New York City in the 1960’s. It begins when he is 12 years old and ends when he is 15. Throughout the novel we find Jim consistently “huffing,” doing pills (uppers, downers, anything he can get his hands on really), drinking alcohol, drinking cough syrup for the codeine “nod,” and eventually trying and becoming hooked on heroin. Unfortunately for him, he mistake’s marijuana to be the highly addictive drug and is blissfully unaware of the addictive powers of heroin until it is too late. His journals are entertaining, raw, powerful and vivid. Do not be surprised at the word “cock” coming up on more than one occasion (no pun intended).
4. Everything Is Wrong With Me: A Memoir of An American Childhood, Gone, Well, Wrong – Jason Mulgrew
This brilliant debut novel will have you literally LOLing and not the fake, texting kind in which you type it just as a space filler in a message. This book will have you falling down stairs, clinging onto objects just to catch your breath, and telling everyone you see every single line that Jason Mulgrew has put in print. The title is 100% accurate-it is shocking that he can manage to be a functional member of society (presumably, kind of, anyway) after reading his twisted childhood stories. If you value wit and clever storytelling the way that I do, then go to your nearest bookstore and beat an old lady with a stick in order to get the last copy of it.
As an added bonus, his contact information says, “For speaking engagements and/or sexual dances, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Someone let me know how the sexual dances rate, please?
5. Less Than Zero – Bret Easton Ellis
Bret Easton Ellis’ first book to be published and in my opinion, his best. At age 19, he was able to capture the apathy and alienation that our generation perpetually experiences. In classic minimalistic fashion, Ellis delivers us a platter of cocaine and sex and enough literary themes to drown in. The main character, Clay, comes home from college for winter break and quickly returns to his drug-fueled partying habits and sexual encounters with both genders. He attends parties with his friends, finds out his best friend is a heroin addict and prostitute, tries to reconnect with his ex-girlfriend, has many one-night stands, and seems completely and utterly numb to it all. This haunting novel accurately displays what it is to be disillusioned in a society that ignores the pain of others and is ultimately self-serving. Clay’s nihilistic viewpoint is something that I think everyone can relate to in one way or another.
Still think reading sounds lame and boring? Suit yourself.