Pick Up a Book: Recommendations for the New School Year

Pick Up a Book: Recommendations for the New School Year

Luke Landis/The Riverdale Review  A collage of covers for “The Filter Bubble,” ”Night Film,” “Uprooted” and “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan”

Luke Landis/The Riverdale Review
A collage of covers for “The Filter Bubble,” ”Night Film,” “Uprooted” and “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan”

Reading...what is it? Wikipedia says, “Reading is a complex cognitive process of decoding symbols in order to construct or derive meaning.” Complex cognitive process? Decoding symbols? If that doesn’t sound like some next level 007 junk, I don’t know what does. Seriously, what other animal can do that? None. It’s ridiculous that humans even possess the capacity to read. Don’t throw that away. Take advantage of the fact that we live in a society where books are incredibly accessible. Here’s the thing: if you don’t like reading, you’re reading the wrong books. Listed below are some great books that will prove to you that reading is fun, and if you say that’s not true, you’re lying to yourself.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik is a whirlwind of magic and mystery. This fast-paced fantasy novel is about a girl, a dragon, corruption, and so much more. Following Agnieszka, an unapologetic protagonist, Uprooted focuses on a small village bordering an evil wood and the wizard who protects it.

Those the walkers carried into the Wood were less lucky. We didn't know what happened to them, but they came back out sometimes, corrupted in the worst way: smiling and cheerful, unharmed. They seemed almost themselves to anyone who didn't know them well, and you might spend half a day talking with one of them and never realize anything was wrong, until you found yourself taking up a knife and cutting off your own hand, putting out your own eyes, your own tongue, while they kept talking all the while, smiling, horrible.

The Filter Bubble: How the New Personalized Web Is Changing What We Read and How We Think by Eli Pariser is a compelling non-fiction novel that explains the cost of free online services (think Google, Facebook, and Amazon). The Filter Bubble gives an accessible definition and explanation of the many activities of corporations that convince you to buy their products. While reading this book, I almost could not believe it was not a science fiction novel because The Filter Bubble is just that shocking.

 

What was once an anonymous medium where anyone could be anyone—where, in the words of the famous New Yorker cartoon, nobody knows you’re a dog—is now a tool for soliciting and analyzing our personal data. According to one Wall Street Journal study, the top fifty Internet sites, from CNN to Yahoo to MSN, install an average of 64 data-laden cookies and personal tracking beacons each. Search for a word like “depression” on Dictionary.com, and the site installs up to 223 tracking cookies and beacons on your computer so that other Web sites can target you with antidepressants. Share an article about cooking on ABC News, and you may be chased around the Web by ads for Teflon-coated pots... The new Internet doesn’t just know you’re a dog; it knows your breed and wants to sell you a bowl of premium kibble.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See, set in nineteenth-century China, is a tragic and beautiful story about two girls growing up in parallel villages and the different trials they face. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (SFATSF for short) manages to be both heart-warming and heart-breaking. This book is wise, poignant, and will stay with you long after you’ve read it.

When I knew I couldn't suffer another moment of pain, and tears fell on my bloody bindings, my mother spoke softly into my ear, encouraging me to go one more hour, one more day, one more week, reminding me of the rewards I would have if I carried on a little longer. In this way, she taught me how to endure — not just the physical trials of footbinding and childbearing but the more torturous pain of the heart, mind, and soul.

Night Film, by Marisha Pessl, is a novel that I am including not just because it is easily one of the best books I have ever had the pleasure of reading, but because it captures the spirit of halloween perfectly, a holiday that is just around the corner. It’s a horror mystery-thriller and it will have you glued to the edge of your seat till the last page.

Mortal fear is as crucial a thing to our lives as love. It cuts to the core of our being and shows us what we are. Will you step back and cover your eyes? Or will you have the strength to walk to the precipice and look out?


In conclusion: Just read. Pick up a book, open it and start unraveling the worlds that lay inside. I’m sure you will be pleasantly surprised.

 

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