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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Editorial Book Picks


    ‘A Tree Grows in Brooklyn’ by Betty Smith
    It has always been my favorite book. It was one of the only required readings books that I just couldn’t put down as a kid. It’s about a girl growing up in the 1920’s, dealing with school, family, and later on in the novel, first love. I think what drew me into it was her determined and steadfast personality, which I could see in myself.

    ‘Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am?’ by John Powell
    I would strongly recommend this book. It does focus a lot on God and religion, but it hits on a lot of other topics, including love, friendship, and trust. It gives you an entirely different way of looking at the world and teaches you how to delve deeper into things we just take at surface value. You don’t need to be devotedly religious to read it. I’m not, and I loved the book.

    ‘Chicken Soup for the Couple’s Soul’ by Jack Canfield
    Well, who doesn’t love the Chicken Soup books? If you’re one of those chick-flick, tear-jerker girly girls who loves reading about ‘how they met,’ ‘the proposal,’ or true love, like me, then this book is a must. What I like most about it is that it’s about real people and real stories, not some cheesy fiction romance. It makes you have hope that Prince Charmings and roses still exist in the real world.


    ‘The Lovely Bones’ by Alice Sebold
    It is a beautifully written fiction that centers on the emotions of loss and hope after tragedy strikes. Sebold is able to suspend reality and illustrate the complexities of relationships in families as they struggle to move on, but never forget the past.

    ‘Slaughterhouse-Five, The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance With Death’ by Kurt Vonnegut
    Vonnegut’s novel challenges the concepts of reality as time is suspended and the protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, time-travels through the events in his life. The novel highlights the harsh realities of war, and analyzes the human condition when we’re forced into situations where the world cannot be judged in black and white but through shades of gray.

    ‘Flowers for Algernon’ by Daniel Keyes
    This novel centers around the development of a mentally challenged protagonist who becomes the subject of an experimental procedure to enhance his intelligence. A heartbreaking work, this story challenges society’s conventions on what normalcy is, intelligence and true friendship.


    ‘A Clockwork Orange’ by Anthony Burgess
    There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie, and Dim … Reading this book is like learning a whole new language while being scared half to death. Alex, who is into ‘ultraviolence’ is forced to recondition his sociopathic criminal personality when he is sent to jail. While the theme of free will is delivered expertly by Burgess, what’s cooler is his self-made language.

    ‘The Hot Zone’ by Richard Preston
    If you haven’t yet been disturbed by ‘A Clockwork Orange,’ I’d recommend ‘The Hot Zone.’ This book is really not for the faint-hearted. Of all non-fiction works out there, Preston’s chilling account of the origin and penetration of the Ebola and Marburg viruses will even make hardcore medical enthusiasts put it away to take a breather. Whether you hate science or love it, you’ll fall for this book.

    ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ by J. K. Rowling
    I’m not just into the horrifying, especially when the happy kid in me springs up now and then. HP3 brings Sirius back to life among a matured Harry and the gang. It is also the first time we see death through Dementors and life through humor at its highest point. Word of caution: this book will make you want to read the others in the series, but I’d stop myself. Savoring just this one is probably for the best.


    ‘The Tir Alainn’ Trilogy by Anne Bishop
    An adventurous trilogy about the Fae, who are supposed to be the perfect beings, discovering the truth about whom they really are and accepting the truth before a vile enemy destroys everything.

    ‘The DaVinci Code’ by Dan Brown
    Need I say more? It’s a mystery that wows you to the end. I loved it so much, I read it twice.

    ‘The Black Jewels’ Trilogy by Anne Bishop
    Taken place at a captivating world of three realms where witches and demons are not who they seem. A dark fantasy trilogy that stuns you with a lifestyle that can never be accepted in society. Also, a love story between a prophesied queen of darkness and the man who has been waiting for her for 1,000 years. I read this one four times.


    ‘Valis’ Trilogy by Philip K. Dick
    Being a straight-laced man myself, I must admit that reading the VALIS trilogy is as close to having a drug-induced paranoid delusion as I will ever get. Its three books cover everything from divine satellites to transcendental preachers to God rediscovering himself. Along the way, he redefines faith with some of the most absurd prose imaginable; oh, and Dick gives us a glimpse of his 16,000 page Exigesis in thinly disguised fiction.

    ‘The Sirens of Titan’by Kurt Vonnegut
    Despite the fact that this Vonnegut novel was first published in 1959, it is only slightly dated in the year 2007. Again riffing on the theme of the absurd, this work makes light the darkest aspects of humanity and calls upon us to embrace them if we are ever to evolve. Vonnegut manages all this while completely avoiding the tone of a preacher, making it a timeless classic.

    ‘The Dubliners’ by James Joyce
    Whenever I am in a good mood for too long, I pick up the Dubliners, confident in its ability to bring me down to earth with stories of lost love, shattered ambitions, and abused psyches. Each story is a gem, highlighting Joyce’s genius in his ability to describe a person’s situation and thought process with crystal clarity. Becoming acquainted with this collection of short stories is a right of passage for all English majors, and anybody who would like to make the claim that they ‘just get it.’


    ‘The Dark Tower’ Series by Stephen King
    I’m going to count eight books as one. Mr. King considers this the pinnacle of his career – so do I. The characters will crush you with their realness and their appeal. The story is a masterpiece of the imagination. I’ve always thought he was better at fantasy than horror.

    ‘The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre’ by H.P. Lovecraft
    These short stories represent the closest anyone has come to writing down nightmares since Poe. They’re dreamlike and haunting in all the right ways.

    ‘Man Without a Country’ by Kurt Vonnegut
    The socio-political ideology that lies beneath all of Vonnegut’s fiction is dragged out into the open in this essay collection. It’s sad to see a black humorist lose his sense of humor. However, the writing is brilliant and touching.


    ‘Life of Pi” by Yann Martel
    On the surface, Yann Martel’s Life of Pi is a story of a young boy’s journey across the ocean.’ The young boy, Pi Patel, spends 227 days on a boat with a 450-pound Bengali tiger named Richard Parker.’ Sure, sailing on the wide ocean expanse, the story of Patel’s survival is reason in itself to read Martel’s work.’ The reader finds, however, that Martel’s work is a masterpiece that mixes in multiple themes of family, universality of religion, and a young boy’s coming of age.

    ‘Leaves of Grass’ by Walt Whitman
    Whitman’s defining work, a compilation of 383 poems that he continued to update and add to until his death 1892.’ Whitman’s poems exude a distinct prescience that speaks to people from all time periods.’ What was considered a radical break from the structure of British poetry during the 19th century, has turned into a timeless anthology for the ages.

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