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Books that Rock: Summer Picks from the Rock Staff

Looking for a summer read now that you’ve sold back your textbooks and assigned novels? Whether you’re spending your summer lounging on the beach or you’re looking for a way to pass the time while taking the T to a summer internship in Boston, here are a few of our favorite books to help you out. Rock summer book Marie McGrath  – The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath A remarkably easy read for such a classic. Incredibly relevant and relatable, especially for young people on the precipice of change. Guaranteed to change your life in one way or another. Jack Donovan – A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway This novel is an amazing take on the complexities of love and war and how each can be connected. Oddly enough, it is war that brings Henry and Catherine together, but love is what breaks them apart. This book will make you think about the true meaning of love, life, death, and war in an ever-captivating way. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card This science fiction novel is considered a classic by many and the idea of a hero is constantly challenged throughout. This novel will make you rethink our technological future and ponder what will come next. Even if you aren’t a science fiction fan, you will enjoy this book and perhaps the movie which is set to release in November. Jill Spisak – The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster This is a collection of three bizarro meta-detective stories set in New York. While you get all the faceless trench coat shiftiness of neo-noir Manhattan, the stories are more about the writing of mysteries (authorship, language, etc.) than the mysteries themselves. The premise of the first story, City of Glass, is what attracted me to the trilogy: a detective-fiction writer gets wrapped up in the case of a crackpot professor who believed that raising his son in complete isolation (dark, silent room; no human interaction) would result in the kid’s ability to speak humanity’s true language, the language of God. The other two stories are just as absurd and thought-provoking. Mike Solah – Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace A classic of “postmodern” literature, Infinite Jest is a massive novel about tennis and also a thoughtful and touching critique on what we give ourselves up to. Its massive length and quality are reasons why you should read it over the summer. Doyle Calhoun – American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis Think of Bret Easton Ellis’ anti-hero Patrick Bateman as the postmodern Jay Gatsby— young, handsome, successful, mysterious— only with far more sinister secrets than his Jazz Age counterpart. Bateman’s sharp, vitriolic stream-of-consciousness narration carries the reader through the corporate splendor of Wall Street at the close of the 1980s, exposing the dark underbelly of New York City’s social scene and the narrator’s own even darker “recreational” activities. The Washington Post critic Fay Weldon calls American Psycho a “beautifully controlled, careful, important novel”— psychopathic narrator aside, it’s certainly not your average beach-and-pool-read. Meagan McCarthy – Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay This novel follows two parallel and intertwined plots related to the Vel d’Hiv roundup in Paris during the Holocaust. The first follows the story of Sarah Starzynski, a young Jewish girl who is taken from her home during the roundup. Before she leaves, however, she locks her little brother in a cupboard to protect him. The second plot follows an American journalist in Paris, Julie Jarmond, who is assigned to cover the 60th anniversary of the roundup. This novel is beautifully, tragically moving and despite the heavy topic, you won’t be able to put it down. The movie, released in 2010, is great as well! Kate Lewis – Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut My summer reads have run the gamut from airy teen romances to hard-hitting classics, but my favorite summer book of all time is Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut.  It’s got a little something for everything: dystopian sci-fi, war history, and biting, satirical wit.  “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.” Conor Naughton – Startup by Jerry Kaplan It’s written about a technology company started in Silicon Valley during its heyday in the 90s. Dr. Kaplan was the founder and CEO who describes the passage of starting a company and the seemingly constant and desperate search for funding to keep his and his workers vision alive. I particularly enjoyed it for the inside look it offered of major technology companies such as IBM and Microsoft and their often ruthless tactics to remain at the top of their fields. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham I picked this book up at the behest of my father and was surprised to find a foreword brimming with praise written by none other than Warren Buffett. The Intelligent Investor describes the logic driven strategy for any investor, who along with emotional discipline will find great success according to Buffett and many leading investors. I haven’t read particularly far into the book yet but I am excited to see what it holds. Ian Malone – I’ve been reading all the Kurt Vonnegut books I haven’t read yet. He’s perfect summer reading because his books are generally lighthearted, but also tackle serious issues. God Bless You Mr. Rosewater is my favorite. Jamie Spagnuolo – The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger If you haven’t read Catcher in the Rye yet, you should read it this summer. Not only is it a great read, but it’s also a classic. There are two types of people: Ones that hate Holden Caulfield, and ones that love him. It’s time you found out which side you land on. Chris Kabacinski – Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace Infinite Jest may weigh more than I do and it may have hundreds of footnotes, but it is worth spending an entire summer reading and appearing (a bit) pretentious. Much of DFW’s hilarious and huge novel takes place at a tennis academy and a halfway house in the Greater Boston Area, discussing entertainment, addiction, family, and mental illness (among many other things). It requires patience, but Infinite Jest is worth every outrageous, thoughtful page.   Happy reading!

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