[grass]Practicing law in the Civil War South, fighting off villains and cracking codes to 30-year-old crimes are likely not part of most MSU students\’ summer plans. For most, summer vacation brings a break from classes and a chance to make money working at the local produce market or a hot shot\’s personal servant at an internship. When the droll of the 9-5 gets too stressful and tedious, students can battle evil aliens, walk on a beach with a romantic stranger or have a conversation with Abraham Lincoln without leaving their armchair.
\”When I have free time, I love to read because a good book has a way of pulling me in and making me feel that I\’m a part of the story,\” journalism junior Melanie Trusty said. \”It isn\’t like watching a movie. When you read a book you actually have to use your imagination, which can make it your own.\”
And Trusty isn\’t alone – especially as exam week comes to an end, more textbooks will be sold and chapter books will come out of hiding. Summer reading is high upon many students\’ lists, and we\’ve made our own list to jumpstart your adventure.
Getting Cozy with Classics
Borrowing famous American classics from your local library this summer might be the way to literary satisfaction. At the very least, you won\’t be out of the loop next time someone says, \”Frankly, my dear, I don\’t give a damn.\”
One great book to start within the classics genre is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which tells the story of the secrets and scandals the nouveau riche of the West Egg district of New York in 1922 live by. As the story unfolds, secrets about Gatsby involving lust, money and crime come to the surface, leaving the reader guessing the true nature of Gatsby and the American dream. Medical technology junior Melissa Ebach said that all MSU students should check out The Great Gatsby. \”It is a great book that is very well-written and has great characters,\” she said.
[books]Another true American classic to add to your summer collection is Harper Lee\’s To Kill a Mockingbird, suggested by political science sophomore Cole Benbow. \”I think the book contains some deep messages, most notably kids growing up and being confronted with racism, hatred and ignorance from others for the first time,\” Benbow said. \”At the beginning of the book they are very innocent, and haven\’t been exposed to the uglier side of life, but when we come to the end, they have seen the evil traits held by others, and they have to find a way to come to terms with how certain things are in the world.\” To Kill a Mockingbird explores the trial of an innocent black man accused of raping a white woman and the consequences that he and the white lawyer (Atticus Finch) defending him have to face within the community. Benbow said one of the main reasons he loves this story is because of Atticus\’s character. \”He seems like a perfect role model for anyone, and is the all-knowledgeable force throughout the book.\”
Laugh it Up
For those looking for a light read that won\’t leave you analyzing every word, Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella is the perfect book to tuck into your purse for those days when all you want to do is drink margaritas by the pool. With a style reminiscent of Bridget Jones\’ Diary, Kinsella follows Becky Bloomwood, a financial journalist with an out-of-control shopping addiction. Eback said to check out this book and any of the others in the Shopaholic series when you are looking for a fun, light read because they are \”hilariously funny.\” With Becky\’s quirky justifications for her purchases, get-rich-quick schemes and tangled webs of lies, her character will leave you rolling on the floor with laugher or, in a moral-of-the-story way, cutting up your credit cards.
If shopping addictions don\’t leave you belly laughing on the floor, then try checking out the creative nonfiction stylings of David Sedaris in Me Talk Pretty One Day, just one of his off-the-wall books. Sedaris finds the humor in everyday situations as he travels first to New York and then to Paris, where he moves in with his boyfriend. Whether he is talking about his childhood confusion when his instructor asks him to name his guitar after a \”stacked woman,\” or the trials of trying to explain in French the concept of Easter to Muslim women, Sedaris\’s witty commentary will leave you quoting him for weeks. History Sophomore Diedra Diebolt said she loves Sedairs because he is the king of \”small-scale adventures.\” She also finds his use of typical events very funny. \”Dave Sedaris shows the absurdity of being the typical middle class person,\” Diebolt said. \”He shows the funniness of everyday life. It\’s hilarious.\”
Adventures From Another Galaxy
If you dream about exploring outer space, these science fiction books might just be right up your galaxy. Political science junior Michael McAlpine suggests checking out Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein. The book explores alternate societies as it follows Valentine Michael Smith, a human who was raised by martians on Mars, once he returns to earth. McAlphine suggests this book because of its unique perspective on society. \”Though Heinlein has a distinctly libertarian streak, this is less evident in Stranger,\” McAlphine said. \”Stranger follows the martian as he becomes familiar with the culture of earthlings.\”
Molecular Science junior Amanda Ervin said that this book changed how she viewed the world around her. \”For me, it made me think about how much of my life was influenced by the society I grew up in, and although the story is fictional, I learned a lot about looking at things as a blank slate of sorts, trying to look at things without my societal conditioning. It may be a book you need to re-read but it\’s worth it.\”[society]
If video games and epic battles are more your thing, Curious Book Store employee Greg Baldino suggests checking out the series of graphic novels by Lee O\’Malley, Scott Pilgrim. The novels tell the story of Scott Pilgrim, a struggling musician who after getting the woman of his dreams is forced to fight off seven of her evil ex-boyfriends in video game battle fashion. \”It\’s a romantic comical book with video game tendencies,\” Baldino said.
Past Platform Nine and Three Quarters
No summer book list would be complete without mentioning that quiddich-playing, invisible cape-wearing, magical book series. Yes, Harry Potter. With the final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, coming out July 21, many MSU students are counting down the days. Freshman Mary Ianne has had her copy reserved for months. \”It\’s a good, exciting read,\” Ianne said. \”I will definitely be at the party at Borders the night before.\”
Although the contents of the seventh novel are kept confidential, it will most likely center on Potter battling evil once again and risking his life in the name of wizardry. If you haven\’t been keeping up-to-date on the last six Harry Potters and you want to read the seventh, get started now. Though they are a fairly easy read, they are long, averaging more than 400 pages.
For the Romantic at Heart
If your heart pines for the best romantic book, checking out this selection might just make you swoon. For the old fashioned romantic, art history sophomore Emily Bliss suggests checking out the classic romance novels, including Jane Austen\’s Pride and Prejudice. \”I find that the best books are always the classics that you find on the must-read lists,\” Bliss said. Pride and Prejudice travels through the unresolved sexual tensions of Elizabeth Bennet and the thought-to-be snob Mr. Darcy. What begins with seemly mutual hatred morphs into something more as the novel begins to unfold. Set in the high society 1800s, Pride and Prejudice is a witty, romantic novel that keeps you guessing until the very end.
If spies, guns, and dangerous passions are more your style, then journalism sophomore Diane Ivey suggests checking out The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, by Lauren Willig. This story unfolds in the mist of the French Revolution and explores the passions and trials of two lovers. Amy, the heroine of the novel, travels to France to visit her brother and becomes involved with a man, who unknown to her, is a spy. Ivey suggests this book because it\’s \”the romance novel for everyone,\” as it branches out from the typically cheesy \”bodice ripping\” romance novel, as Ivey calls it. \”It\’s fun and sexy at the same time,\” Ivey said. \”I really like stories with secret identities because it adds a really fun twist to it. You are never quite sure what turn the book is going to take next. Is she going to discover his secret identity or is she not? There are a lot of stupid misunderstands and a lot of humor in this book. Unlike many romance novels, it doesn\’t take itself too seriously.\”
To Keep You Guessing
If Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys novels kept you entertained as a child, then checking out clue searching, crime solving novels are your best bet. If you are looking for something a little different than a typical murder mystery, Baldino suggests Crooked Little Vein by Warner Ellis. It tells the story of Michael McGill, a burned-out private eye who is hired by a shady politician to track down the real U.S. Constitution. With college student Trix as his sidekick, he begins to unravel the true history of the U.S. \”It\’s a really twisted sci-fi, crime novel,\” Baldino said. \”It has UFO conspiracies, defiant sex, and shows the brutality of unflinching humanity.\” By throwing in historical and science fiction references, Ellis spices up the typical mystery novel.
Another book that keeps you guessing until the end is Bait by Karen Robards. It tells the story of Maddie Fitzgerald, who is taken into FBI custody after she comes face to face with a serial killer. They convince her that the only way to catch the killer is to use her as – you guessed it – bait. With three FBI agents watching 24/7, Maddie thinks she is safe until a budding romance with one of the agents puts her in danger. This book has seduction, crime and heart-pumping action and will keep you hooked until the very last page.
Self Reflection
If you are looking for something a little deeper, try checking out these books that center around finding out who you really are. As Nature Made Him, by John Colapinto, is a true story about a boy who is raised as a girl, after a botched circumcision. A childhood filled with confusion and feelings of rejection leads him to realize that gender identity is not something that is taught. This book explores the concepts of nature verses nurture as well as sexuality and the societal norms that go along with it. Not only does Colapinto tell the story of his own life, but he also provides insight into the lives of many others dealing with issues of gender identity. It is a great read for anyone interested in looking at life through a perceptive they have never experienced before.
Another book that tells the story of self-exploration is The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. This fictional story follows a 14-year-old girl named Lilly and her surrogate mother, a black servant named Rosaleen as they flee home in search of a sense of belonging. Elementary education junior Daryl Bean suggests reading the book because she liked how it approached the different parts of life. \”It tells the story of the life a little girl who is forced to grow up too fast,\” said Bean. \”She has many exotic experiences and has very interesting reflections on different parts of life. The story is both heart-wrenching and heart-warming. This book is incredible and really gets you thinking.\”
So as the school year comes to a close, consider checking out one of these books to keep you occupied during those hot summer days. Reading can be a great way to step outside your everyday life and understand what it is like to be someone else. Reading may be the only way to add a little excitement to those slow days working at the grocery store check out line, unless of course you really do have to battle evil aliens. If that\’s the case, write a book, and the rest of us can get lost in your adventures next summer.

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