Five books to read before you graduate

| Junior Forum Editor

Maybe you read “The Pearl” in seventh grade and vowed to never read a school-mandated book again. Maybe it was “Moby Dick” in college. Either way, it’s all the more reason to extend your non-school-mandated reading repertoire, especially if your years of required readings are coming to a close. As graduation approaches for the Class of ‘23 and the Class of ‘27 prepares to join us in the fall, reflecting on what we have learned is a vital part of our educational experience. In this list, I’ve compiled some of the books that I feel have been the most transformative and impactful for me so far, largely because they cause me to either reflect on my past or contemplate my future. So whether you are graduating in May or getting ready to move in this fall, here are the books that I think you should read before you graduate.

1. “Kindred” by Octavia Butler

“Kindred” is a terrifying and gut-wrenching “Magic Tree House” for adults. I read the entire book in one sitting after reading Butler’s short story “Speech Sounds” in class, and I bought another of her books, “Parable of the Sower,” as soon as I had finished. If that’s not enough, Octavia Butler is a master of speculative fiction, visionary of Afrofuturism, and genuine genius. For everyone, but especially fans of “Beloved,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and “Slaughterhouse-Five.”

2. “The Godfather” by Mario Puzo

“The Godfather” film is an undisputed cinematic masterpiece, yet it is often forgotten that The Godfather novel, its predecessor, is a feat of media as well. Even if you aren’t a mafia aficionado, this novel contains one of the best death scenes in literature and some incredibly quotable dialogue. For everyone, but especially fans of “Wiseguy,” “The Da Vinci Code,” and, of course, Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather.”

3. “The Virgin Suicides” by Jeffrey Eugenides

This book is the sole reason I like to dramatically cry on my birthdays. A tragic exploration of femininity, girlhood, and growing up and a devastating reminder of how impossible it is to truly understand someone else’s perspective. Told by the boys next door, “The Virgin Suicides” is an intimate and unfinished portrait of 5 teenagers. For everyone, but especially fans of “My Year of Rest and Relaxation,” “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” and “The Bell Jar.”

4. “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood

Horrifyingly becoming more and more relevant, “The Handmaid’s Tale” is a classic for a reason. While you read about the terrors of a potential future United States of America, keep in mind that Atwood did not include anything in the novel that wasn’t concurrently taking place in another country. Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite authors of all time and I have limitless recommendations of her work. There is also a phenomenal Hulu series of the same name. For everyone, but especially fans of “Parable of the Sower,” “Never Let Me Go,” and “1984.”

5. “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac

Not-so-loosely based on Kerouac’s own trip, “On the Road” details the travels of a writer and his friends hitchhiking, drinking, and laughing their way across the country. It inspired an entire generation of activism and adventure and is largely responsible for the youth counterculture of the 1960s. I have big plans to drive the “On the Road” road trip route once I save up enough money. Hitchhiking isn’t as great of an idea anymore as it seemed in the 50s and 60s. For everyone, but especially fans of “The Catcher In the Rye,” “Bound for Glory,” and “Just Kids.”

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