Getting Lost in Great Books
By CC Trifoso
Picking up a book and actually reading can be hard, I know. But from second to eighth grade, I was the biggest bookworm. I would hop from series to series, engulfing myself in made-up worlds and makeshift lives. It was calming and a great escape from ‘the real world’, but, then again, how ‘real’ can the world be for a 12-year old?
Books had this hold on me, especially ones in the dystopian genre. But in ninth grade, it all came crashing down. My title of ‘Book Queen’ went up in flames and I began my three-year book boycott. Maybe it was the integration of of forcing me to read uninteresting books in the classroom, but my fascination with reading for myself was gone.
So yes, I understand being too busy or just not being interested in books. With the internet, tablets, and smartphones, it’s starting to look like paper books are on the way out. But, through the chaos of high school and finding myself, I’ve been able to intentionally turn the pages of three books: The Enemy (series), Hyperbole and a Half, and Outliers. I have hopes that after reading about my suggestions, you’ll go pick up one and start reading. High school life is hard, so, maybe just for 30 pages or so a day, immerse yourself in a different world.
The Enemy, Charlie Higson
Originally published in September of 2009, The Enemy is the first in a series of seven books. Aimed toward young adults, this apocalyptic-horror novel follows the lives of groups of children as they do their best to survive in the ruined city of London, England. Left to their own devices, the kids must constantly be on the run from voracious, cannibalistic zombies. These “sickos”, as many of the kids call them, are people over the age of 16 that have become infected with an unknown disease that turns them into ravenous monsters.
With the last book coming out in 2015, it is clear that people have slept on this series. With seven books, I can see how people may think that it gets repetitive but they don’t. They’re nothing less than interesting.
Included in the front of each book is a map of London marked with the trails each character has taken in that book. Following along on their journeys and putting you right into the fights of kids versus sickos is what the books do best. They keep you up with every character and what they’re feeling and with every significant event that occurs in the books. You develop real connections to the characters and become hooked on what is going to happen each chapter. The series is filled with gore and carnage and bloody battle scenes, yet also brings up points of friendship, loyalty, and bravery. If you’re fascinated with the apocalypse, world building, or just want a good read, I highly recommend this series. With each book being about 500 pages, it’ll definitely take over a portion of your life. But, it is so worth it.
I started the series back in seventh grade and just finished it last semester. Now, I am reading them all over again. You could do what I did; read some, take a break (maybe not a five-year break), then pick them up again at another time. Either way, I guarantee that you’ll be hooked into the plot and characters. I hope that after reading this you’ll at least pick up the book and read the first chapter, because it is my favorite book and I believe that more people should become invested in it.
Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things that Happened, Allie Brosh
If you’re busy and don’t have time to read long, deep novels, then this is the book for you. It might even be so short that it’ll leave you wanting more. Filled with autobiographical vignettes from her life, Brosh has found the secret formula to keeping a reader entertained from start to finish. The book is non-conventional, being shown almost like a diary, as Brosh depicts her life anecdotes in simple drawings made in Paintbrush.
Chances are you’ve seen the “CLEAN ALL THE THINGS” meme with a pink character holding a broom over her head, well, that came from the mind of Brosh, and the entire book is filled with quirky elements like it. The stories are exaggerated and brutally honest. Switching from light-hearted childhood stories to deep inner thoughts about mental health, you feel a connection to the crude character that Brosh has drawn up. The best aspects presented in this book are the points of dry humor about depression. Having once hit a low spot in my life when everything seemed gloomy and unexciting, I was able to laugh along with the character about the ridiculousness of her situation. I found myself finally being able to put into words what I was feeling. I began to share this book with all of my friends so they could join me in talking about how incredible the book was. If you haven’t experienced Hyperbole and a Half yet, I suggest that you start now. It’s a quick read, and you’ll be happy that you did.
Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell
My copy of Outliers is filled with scribbles, highlights, and underlined passages. It is the most interesting book I’ve ever read and has given me a greater outlook on life. I admit, a couple times I had to read pages and chapters over just to understand Gladwell’s point, but, I think I emerged smarter from reading the book. Spanning about 280 pages, Outliers covers how the timing of one’s birth can determine the opportunities they get in life, how geniuses are born and not made, how Korean Air plane crashes have led to advancements in technology and the way people interact, how Chinese rice paddies lead to problem-solving, and more. The book is told in an interesting way, almost like Gladwell is having an argument with himself. He’s working toward his convictions with layers upon layers of backed-up research. Everything stated in this book is stated for a reason; everything brought up in this book is used in some way to make you believe what he’s saying is factual. Diving into the realness and complexity of humans, this book examines how and why people make the decisions they do. It’s a quest for self-understanding, to properly understand how other people function.
The effort put into this book is phenomenal and you can tell that a lot of time and effort went into Gladwell’s research. For those that are really into psychology and human behavior, this book is a wonderful read.