So, one of my New Year's resolutions was to expand the types of books I read. While reading has always been a hobby of mine, I tend to gravitate towards the same types of books: fiction stories and John Green novels. Partially inspired by Mark Zuckerberg's New Year's resolution to read a book a month, with the requirement that the book had to be recommended to him, I decided to expand my reading list, hitting up Barnes and Noble to seek out books that I normally never would have picked up. Here is a list of books I've read and enjoyed that'll help you step outside your literary comfort zone!
1. One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by BJ Novak: Okay, so before I gush about this book and how much I enjoyed reading the different short stories and seeing how they intertwined, I have to first admit that I've casually had the world's biggest crush on B.J. Novak when I started watching The Office during sophomore year of high school. While I am very likely to pick up anything that has B.J. Novak's name on it, this book was outside of my typical literary comfort zone because it is a collection of short stories rather than my typical novel with one overarching plotline. One More Thing is full of humor and wit; it's just as smart and funny as you would expect from a Harvard grad, writer and producer for The Office, and BFF/possible soulmate of Mindy Kaling.
2. Into the Wild by Jon Kraukauer: Part of my new year's resolution involved reading more nonfiction works since I usually tend to gravitate towards fictional stories. Even though I had heard of the movie, I really had no clue what the book was about. This book instantly made me want to go hiking and emulate Man vs. Wild. It also brings up the interesting question of whether you should go on a crazy and dangerous exploration to go find yourself, or if that's just being overly idealistic and immature. Is that feeling of being young and invincible something to be acted upon, or should you always keep human limitations in mind? Overall, this book details the endlessly fascinating life and death of Chris McCandless, which will get you out of your literary comfort zone -- if not inspiring you to truly challenge yourself by being more adventuresome and risk-taking.
3. The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore: This is another great nonfiction read. I actually stayed up all night reading this over winter break. Take a second to take that statement in: I willingly gave up sleep over three weeks that are very much meant to make up for sleep lost during the fall semester in order to finish this book. That's how interesting it is. The author, Wes Moore, is highly successful, having served in the military as well as being a Rhodes Scholar. (Plus, he wrote a New York Times bestseller, so that's chill.) In The Other Wes Moore, he writes about how he found another Wes Moore who grew up in the same neighborhood as him in almost the same circumstances, but, unlike him, ended up in prison with a life-sentence. He details his own life experiences and those who helped up accomplish so much in his life as well as gathering accounts from the other Wes Moore to see where their paths diverged.
4. Dispatches from the Edge by Anderson Cooper: Okay, so Anderson Cooper is another crush I've had since sophomore year of high school. But, on the real, who doesn't have a crush on Anderson Cooper? His memoir on the disasters and conflicts he's witnessed, such as Hurricane Katrina, as well as his own personal hardships with the loss of his father and brother, is an emotional read, but a most worth-while one. This is yet again another nonfiction book, and it served as a reminder that writing about reality can be just as emotional as a fictional narrative that is constructed with plot twists just to be a tear-jerker.
5. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh: This is another nonfiction read because I think I'm starting to fall in love with nonfiction works as all the pieces I've read as part of this New Year's resolution -- including Hyperbole and a Half -- have shown me how wrong I was when I thought nonfiction works would be boring or lacking in poetic writing. Allie Brosh has garnered support and praise from those suffering with depression as well as psychologists for her blog's accurate depiction of what it's like to live with depression. Since the book is an extension of her blog, Hyperbole and a Half balances humor as well as insightful look into mental illnesses. And, I'm glad I read a nonfiction book about depression because there's no room for romanticizing a serious health problem into a character quirk or into a problem whose solution is to fall in love.
So while many of you likely don't have the time to read right now with finals and papers and all that fun stuff, you should remember this list for the summer time. (Because, on the real, who hasn't taken breaks from their New Year's resolutions?) Also, more importantly, just remember the idea that your goals and resolutions don't have to be something you've never done before, but they could be a new approach to something that you've gotten too comfortable with.
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