I am a huge nerd. To me there is nothing more comforting than cozying up in a big chair with a mug of coffee and a good book. Ditto for lounging in a Barnes & Noble aisle with a cup of Starbucks. I could continuously purchase more and more books and never be truly satisfied.
That being said, not all books are created equal. It was extremely hard for me to narrow down my favorites to just six, but for you I’ll do it! This list is a mix of classic literature, history, and romance. I hope you find at least one title to enjoy!
- From the Ashes of Sobibor, by Thomas Blatt. This is the true story of Sobibor, a Nazi death camp, and the escape of two hundred prisoners. Blatt begins his story prior to the camp as he avoided being captured, and continues to describe his experiences in the camp, as well as his survival afterwards. There is no book like this in my opinion. I’ve taken several classes on the Holocaust, read many a book, and this one is hands down the most heart wrenching. I’ve read it several times over and never fail to be deeply moved.
- Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston. This is a coming of age tale of a young woman who grows to learn that she is control of her own destiny. Through beautiful prose, Hurston tell’s Janie Crawford’s story of growing up in the South, and how she fights against racism and sexism. This is my personal favorite because you don’t realize how much you’re learning about the workings of America when you’re learning about the life of Janie.
- The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende. I first read this book in high school, and while I loved it then, I don’t think I understood the many meanings woven through out the text. The book tells the story of the Trueba family, all while explaining the social and political upheavals of post-colonial Chile. My description doesn’t do the book justice. The story incorporates elements of magical realism, and like TEWWG, you don’t know you’re learning while you read!
- The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson. My all time favorite from Larson, the book tells the story of a notorious serial killer who used the World’s Fair of 1893 in Chicago to abduct his victims. Larson shows the killer’s actions in conjunction with the organizers of the fair and its meaning to the American public. A history book that reads like a good mystery, you won’t want to put it down!
- Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter. A lovely novel set in a small coastal Italian village, Walter shows us the complexities of human interactions. The romantic setting is contrasted by the tough realities that each character faces, and the setting of the 1960s’ adds intrigue for lovers of a time far different than our own. Highly recommend! Plus it’s set in Italy, did I mention how much I love Italy??
- Race and Reunion, by David Blight. This book is a true history book. Blight tells us about the aftermath of the Civil War, a story we rarely talk about. What happened when the battles were over? Blight attacks our memory of a peaceful and easy reunion, and reminds us that not everything happened perfectly. This book makes me question again and again how the war so long ago impacted American education and our lives still today. Such a wonderfully written history and worth your time.
That’s all I have to offer up today. Grad school is exhausting. I read three books a week, just for my class. That doesn’t include everything I do for my thesis. I know I shouldn’t complain because I know I’m exceptionally privileged just to make it this far in my education, but man, I just want to sleep. Have a lovely day, y’all!