In my search for the best books to read if you don’t read that much, I went out and interviewed three students who all expressed that they don’t read for pleasure that often. Each person recommended a book for me, and I read each one in order to decide whether or not their recommendations were worth reading.
When asked for a recommendation, senior Aidan Henderson said, “I think the best novel to read is A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. It weaves together the stories of two Afghan women whose lives eventually intersect. I love it because it gives the reader a look into a culture they may not know much about, while at the same time creating a genuinely interesting and intense story. The syntax and writing style is also easy to read because it flows really well, which makes this book a good read.”
It’s hard to imagine a life in a culture very different from America. Set in Afghanistan in the 1960s, A Thousand Splendid Suns follows two teenagers named Mariam and Laila, setting the tone for Hosseini’s novel about the relationships between women—specifically mothers and daughters. After learning that her mother has committed suicide, Mariam marries an abusive man named Rasheed, the same man who Laila marries after her family was killed by a missile. The story follows the two girls’ lives in Kabul during and after the rule of the Taliban. The novel started out very slow, and it took a long time to get to some action and exciting parts. The novel follows a very standard story outline: a beauty in the form of Laila, an underdog shown in Mariam, and an evil villain shown in the abusive Rasheed. Although this novel picked up towards the middle and was pretty easy to follow, I would not recommend this book if one isn’t interested in foreign life or tragic events. It is a pretty intense story because of the wartime ties it has, so if that is your cup of tea then I definitely recommend.
Sophomore Aly Hirani said, “The Harvard Psychedelic Club by Don Lattin is really interesting to read because the storyline is pretty unique, since it follows the story of a few scholars and their psychedelic drug-research project. It’s just kinda something that you never really hear much about so it’s interesting to read about how certain drugs are used in academic research. Plus, if you’re not really that inclined to pick up a book, this one is a good one because it’s not very long and the writing style isn’t hard to follow.”
In the time of the 1960s, American culture was changing culturally on many levels in terms of drug knowledge and these changes are clearly seen in The Harvard Psychedelic Club. Lattin’s ability to turn a Harvard sponsored drug research project into a story that can be read for pleasure is quite admirable. Four men, for research purposes, experiment with LSD to explore the expanded consciousness, which was interesting for me to read about because I’ve never known that certain drugs were actually used by academic scholars to try to expand their knowledge and minds in a way people hadn’t thought to do before. The novel illustrates how the members of the Harvard psychedelic club were able to influence not only each other but America by launching the mind/body/spirit movement which actually introduced a lot of aspects of regular day life such as yoga classes and alternative medicine. While this novel is fairly academic sounding when you read it, there was still jealousy and betrayal between the four men at times that blew my mind due to the sheer plot twists of it all. I would recommend this book if you are interested in reading novels that have a slightly more non-fiction feel rather than fiction, but ultimately I think that the topic of the book is so interesting that it’s 10/10 completely worth reading.
Sophomore Nick Venn said, “I think The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks is really great to read if you don’t read that often because the syntax is really easy to understand and follow, it’s a relatively fast read and it follows a romance between two people which is exciting to read about because stuff like that actually happens in real life. There’s also a lot of drama in it which makes this book a real page turner, and it’s easy to put yourself in as the main character.”
Nicholas Sparks’ romantic novels with tragedy sprinkled in here and there have taken to the movie screen many times. His novel The Last Song is no different, following the unexpected love story between an angsty, troubled teen girl and a young man with a lot of cash to blow. The first part of the story is about the chase, as young man Will pursues Ronnie, a brooding teen he keeps running into in their small beach town. The second half of the novel touches on some deeper aspects of life, such as cancer, death and the uppity status of some elites. I found this book to be a fairly good read, not only because the actual writing was really easy to read and didn’t contain any vocabulary I didn’t know, but because it was about teenagers hanging around the beach and having a summer romance. This is something I think a lot of people can relate to, making it a topic of interest. On a more serious note, after learning that Ronnie’s father had fatal cancer, my heart was broken. Starting out, Ronnie and her father had a terrible relationship because of Ronnie’s reluctance to maintain a good daughter status, and it was interesting to read about the progression of their relationship throughout the book. Ultimately, I agree with Venn in that this is an exciting and easy novel to read if you aren’t that into reading.