Hey UIS! Welcome back to a new semester. We hope your Spring 2018 is looking sharp, that you’re feeling fresh, and that you’re ready to tackle all that it brings you.
The Learning Hub’s tutors were busy relaxing over the winter break, and we read up a storm! We find that these breaks are sometimes the only time we have to take time to read for pleasure (I know, what’s that?), and so when we have the chance, we take it!
We wanted to show you what we’ve been up to over the last few weeks when classes weren’t in session by opening up the new, official, Learning Hub Library – here you can find some of our top picks for the next time you look for something to read for pleasure.
Here’s what our tutors have to say in recommendation of these texts:
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
A tear-jerker that deals with love, choice, and sacrifice. I recommend this book for those who want a slice-of-life story that challenges their views on morality of choice, the extent to which love conquers all, and the belief that all wounds heal.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander (J.K. Rowling)
This book is the wizarding world’s textbook, not the movie script. If you want to learn about Harry’s world of Magical creatures, I recommend this book for you. If you’re lucky, you will see Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s annotations in the margins.
2 AM at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino
On the eve of Christmas Eve, the interconnected stories of a nine-year old aspiring jazz singer, her fifth grade teacher, and a single father who owns Philadelphia’s famed jazz club The Cat’s Pajamas, come together as they confront grief, responsibility, parenthood, and lost love.
Everything is Awful and Other Observations by Matt Bellasai
Internet celeb Matt Bellasai brings together a series of humorous essays that track his life experience from ignorant child to barely functioning adult. Using sharp wit, pop culture references, and self-deprecation, Bellasai highlights the joys, troubles, and hilarity of a millennial who knows how to laugh at the world and himself.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
It’s nice to be able to escape the stress of school and travel into the darkness or Mordor.
The Ravishing of Lol Stein by Marguerite Duras
A lyrical and at times almost dreamlike examination of a woman compelled by chance to explore her most suppressed desires. Duras’ matter-of-fact and understated approach to character creates a compelling portrait of Lol and the people that inhabit her world.
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
A book that is deeply and disturbingly human. Dunn’s characters are grotesque and yet achingly vulnerable. The world of Geek Love is one apart and one that has to be read to be believed. She makes the unimaginable seem normal and the normal seem absurd.
Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory
This book is a wonderful exploration of what makes us human. Gregory weaves a world much like ours, but in which demon possession by classic archetypes of history, literature, and folklore, is the norm. This setting allows him to push his characters to the limit in search of their identities in a tour-de-force, noir take on the magical realism genre.
The Devil’s Alphabet by Daryl Gregory
Gregory’s next book also plays with the magical realism genre, but is much more akin to horror, and reminiscent of early Stephen King, than his first book. A small town is ravaged by a terrible outbreak that leaves the surviving portion of the population horribly deformed, splitting the town into Argos, Betas, and Charlies, each with their own physical form. Gregory’s second novel continues to explore what makes us human by continuing to unravel our expectations of it in this uncanny, palpable mystery.
You are Here: An Owner’s Manual for Dangerous Minds by Jenny Lawson
Jenny Lawson, of The Bloggess fame, doodles when she feels anxious or is having a bad day. She often posted these doodles online and fans of her blog would print them, color them, and bring them to book signings for her to autograph. She realized other people might find them helpful in relaxing, finding joy in small things, or brightening an otherwise dull day, and so she collected her drawings into this book. It’s part therapy, part coloring book, part collection of poems, and all in all is a wonderful addition to your collection. Participate in Jenny’s self-help process, and doodle whenever you feel like you need a break from your day!
The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz
This book regales with the adventures of a group of young people who, despite their distinct backgrounds, share a quest in medieval Europe. The story recalls the traditions of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales as it’s told through a group of observers gathered in a pub and the narrator who links their tales of these famous (and, to some, infamous) children. If you have any interest in medieval literature or culture, this is a supremely well-researched and highly readable YA novel set in that era.
Calling a Wolf a Wolf by Kaveh Akbar
A devastatingly beautiful collection of poetry. Each line bristles with insight through Akbar’s controlled but expansive free verse.
You Are a Badass : How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
Its bright “Big Bird” yellow cover, and its unorthodox title certainly captured my childlike attention span! Nevertheless, the book was a fairly easy read; quite hilarious and enjoyable to say the least. It is also an uplifting promise that things can change by imagining, acting, and following up. And though this can sound kind of trite—a la Anthony Robins, Napoleon Hill, Oprah Winfrey etc,—the author uses her own examples to illustrate her journey from a destitute nine to fiver, to a wealthy writer, musician, life coach, and entrepreneur. The self deprecating humor, but valuable insight from the critical stand point of a highly intelligent female, should make You are a Badass an eye opener for all girls—and guys who non-conform!
The Scott Pilgrim Series by Bryan Lee O’Malley
I chose this mainly because it is a cool introduction into reading graphic novels, it’s a quick read (the entire series is, really), and more importantly, it’s kind of nerdy but enjoyable.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
The Grid: The Fraying Wires between Americans and Our Energy Future by Gretchen Bakke
How about you? What did you read over break? What are some of your favorite books you love to recommend to your friends and family? Leave a comment below so we can “swap stories,” as it were, and read up on some awesome things!