Tuesday, May 18, 2010
5 College Books That Need to Be On Your Summer Reading List
Most of the time, the books you have to read for school are pretty unexciting. Fortunately, I've taken some courses in my day that actually provided me with some amazing reads-- like stuff I'd read again. For fun. It's craziness, I tell you!
Wanna know five books that will make you feel highly educated at the beach this summer?
Dracula, by Bram Stoker
Read for: Terror of the Gothic
Enough with this Twilight bull-crap, okay? Dracula is an amazing novel. It has creepiness, mystery, suspense, homoeroticism (all kinds of eroticism), and it's just... gah. Don't read Twilight. Read this. Please. Dracula doesn't sparkle and is really badass, okay? Please, my soul is crushed by the wimpy teen vampire craze sweeping the nation-- nay, the world.
The White Boy Shuffle, by Paul Beatty
Read for: African-American Novels of Satire
This book got some press a few years ago, and was relatively new when I read it for class. Gunnar Kaufman is "an awkward, black surfer bum" who faces racism with humor and wit. He becomes a star basketball player, and then a star poet who resents the bourgeois fans who see him as a messiah of the ghetto.
One of his poems reads:
the full may moon
Christopher Walken's forehead
finally has competition.
If that doesn't convince you....
Fanny Hill, OR Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, by John Cleland
Read for: Topics in 18th Century British Literature: Gender
If you love something steamy for the beach, try this novel on for size. This short, fast-paced porno is worth a read purely for its amazingly hilarious, graphic descriptions of the male anatomy, but also if you'd like a look into how 18th Century Brits talked dirty and got it on. It's way more graphic than I expected. This is a great way to read a por-- I mean romantic novel while still being able to argue you're high-browed and totally not a perv. Just say something about how its an interesting depiction of gender roles way back when (it is).
As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
Read for: William Faulkner Seminar
This is another short but great read. If you're intimidated by Faulkner's long, confusing sentences, this is the book for you, since there's little of that here. The text is written in chapters from the perspectives of each character, so the form is still a bit experimental, but it's definitely accessible. The Bundren family journeys to bury their dead matriarch, bringing out the best and worst in all of them. It's an interesting study of different personalities. While there's humor sprinkled throughout, the book gets pretty heavy as it goes on, tackling topics like abortion and the nature of sanity. This was probably my favorite read for the course, so I'd recommend it. You could probably get it done in a night, after which you can say why yes I do read Faulkner and laugh haughtily.
The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
Read for: Intro to British Literature
If you have not yet read this and you enjoy looking at the follies of humanity, amazing wit, and Oscar Wilde, you haven't lived. This is one of my all-time favorites, in part because Oscar Wilde is an impeccable writer with so very much to say. The novel follows Dorian Gray, a handsome young man who essentially trades his soul for beauty, as he changes from nobleman to monster. Wilde's only novel shows the hideousness of debauchery and vanity through the effects Dorian's actions have on the portrait he so loves-- but grows to hate. Suspense, murder-mystery, and satire abound in this excellent piece.
What's the best book you had to read for class? What are you reading this summer?