Books to Read

2019 Goal: Read More

Even though January 1st has passed, there’s still time to add “read more” to your New Year Resolutions list. Believe it or not, reading is important for more reasons than just succeeding in school (although that’s a pretty important reason!).


A 2009 study performed at the University of Sussex by Dr. David Lewis found that reading can reduce your stress levels by up to 68%! This is a higher percentage than other commonly prescribed stress relievers such as listening to music or talking a walk. When your body is under stress, you may be unable to focus, have trouble sleeping, or notice that you get sick a lot more than usual. Managing stress is important for you to remain healthy and happy all year round!

“It really doesn’t matter what book you read, by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author’s imagination” - Dr. David Lewis

So as the weather begins to worsen and the spring ACT and SAT test dates get closer, try managing your stress by reading for a few minutes each day. If you need some reading suggestions, check out the LP library, which is filled with books recommended by your favorite instructors! Or be sure to check out January’s book of the month: Sirens of Titans by Kurt Vonnegut.

“Campus Fiction” Books to Read Before Going to College


There actually exists an entire subgenre of literature known as “campus fiction.” In fact, while I was at Princeton, they were offering a course for incoming freshman called “Student Life: The University in Film and Fiction.” While any book that involves a professor or a college student, even to a small degree, can get somewhat unfairly lumped into the category, “campus fiction,” generally takes place on a University campus and contains academia-centered plots in one way or another. And though these books are merely fiction, and (hopefully in some cases) not indicators of what you should expect on campus, they are still worth a read to get an idea of the setting. Below is just a short list of a few of the best books in the “campus fiction,” genre.

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

An extremely humorous book (albeit darkly humorous), Lucky Jim centers around a professor in a small college in Rural England who is in actuality, not so lucky at all. Attempting to secure his reputation as a scholar and lecturer, the somewhat unambitious Professor James Dixon encounters several mishaps and setbacks in the academic world. On the cover of the book’s 1954 first edition, the tale is aptly described as a “frolicking misadventure.”

The Secret History by Donna Tart

Part campus fiction, part academic thriller (if such a thing exists), The Secret History focuses on a group of six friends studying Classics at a small college in Vermont. At the outset of the book, you learn about the murder of one of the friends while at the college, as well as which one of them did it. The remainder of the novel is a rather twisted, suspenseful account of the events leading up to the murder, as well as its long term affects on the group of students.

Possession by A.S. Byatt

Named one of the best novels written in English 1923-2005 by Time Magazine, Possession does not take place on a traditional campus, but instead follows the journey of two graduate students in England as they become increasingly involved with the project of uncovering a hidden romance between two fictional, celebrated Victorian poets. Jumping between the present and the Victorian era, Possession is an inventive, addictive, and at-times metafictional story of intellectual obsession and scholarly devotion.

On Beauty by Zadie Smith

On Beauty takes place in a fictional college town in Massachusetts that bears a resemblance to Harvard, where Smith was living at the time she wrote the book. The novel primarily concerns the lives of a British professor and his family who have moved to the university for the father’s academic career. Inspired by E.M. Forester’s novel, “Howard’s End,” Smith addresses themes such as the cultural differences between England in the United States, specifically in terms of attitudes toward race, class, and the value of beauty. As the title would suggest, the book deals in particular with the theme of aesthetics, both in an artistic context and in the context of human appearance and standards of beauty.

This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Though overshadowed by The Great Gatsby, This Side of Paradise is nonetheless a beautifully written, mostly autobiographical account of Fitzgerald’s time at Princeton as a young man from the Midwest. Though he ultimately left Princeton after a year, This Side of Paradise includes a glimpse into the ups and downs of his freshman year, and contains many critiques about the culture of social competition at elite universities. Fitzgerald wrote book, as the story goes, in an attempt to impress his future wife, Zelda Sayre, as a published author.

A Letter to High School Students Who Don't Read

Dear High Schoolers,

Here’s the problem: you probably don’t read. Ok, actually, you don’t read at all. If you’re trying to get better at standardized tests, unfortunately, Instagram is not going to help you. Scrolling through nonsense on your phone does not count as reading, even if you’ve traded every spare minute of your life staring at Twitter.  

Here’s the solution: read something-- anything that’s more than one page long. I’m not asking for much, but let’s consider how much I’ve read this summer and then compare it to how much you’ve read this summer. We can then compromise on how many pages you are going to read so that you can become a faster reader and score higher on your tests. Perhaps they weren’t the best books I’ve ever read, but I’ll run you through them here just so you have an idea of what people who read, do. 

Roger caught reading at our annual retreat

Roger caught reading at our annual retreat

The first book I read this summer was called American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. It is a quick novel, just 465 pages, and I don’t recommend it unless you’re into fantasy and nonsense. Not the kind of nonsense on Elliot Tebele's Instagram, mind you, but well-written nonsense. The story is one of the old gods vs. the new; the old Norse and native American gods are getting old and can’t compete with the new gods of media and television. A war is taking place in the American psyche and you are on the front lines. I will not mention that this is now a TV show because you’ll probably just stream it and continue to read nothing.

Next up was Love and Other Pranks, by Tony Vigorito. It's a silly love story nestled in a silly caper to expose the lies and deceit of a new-age guru charlatan. The guru is a horrible person and hoards money that he gets from his congregation. His former student decides to take revenge with a lot of laughing out loud along the way.  

And then there was The Dark Tower, by Stephen King, a modern-day Lord of the Rings epic. While a bit more R-rated, this story follows a cloaked mercenary through a series of adventures that are typically weird. These books are also well-written nonsense but in my defense, we are up over a thousand pages of nonsense that I’ve put on my summer reading list so far.

For the nerdist types, the last book I'll mention is The Dragons of Eden, by Carl Sagan. This book takes the reader on a journey of scientific discovery beginning at the brains of the dinosaurs. Reptile brains are small and consist of a spinal cord and a small nub at the end called the R-complex (much like the human medulla oblongata). It is thought that much of our instinct is present in this area and only through the advent of the cerebral corpus have higher order animals developed the ability to think clearly. The problem is that having a cerebral cortex does not guarantee that you, my friend, are thinking clearly.

Please, I implore you, use your cerebral cortex for more than cat videos and learn something for crying out loud. Let's compromise on you reading more than a few pages of an actual book every day. If for nothing more than to improve your ACT or SAT score. But remember, Instagram and Twitter pages don't count.


Roger, Instructor (and concerned citizen)

How Reading Can Help You Overcome Culture Shock

We work hard to prepare our Brazilian students for the cultural shock of starting college in the US. But what happens when our US team works with Brazilian students or comes to visit us in Brazil? 

Our experience shows that reading helps people to understand some of the cultural nuances that might not otherwise be obvious. We usually recommend a list of ten books that were written by accomplished Brazilian writers. The first book is always the same: Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands. The purpose of my blog post is to write about this book and explain the importance of reading it to understand Brazilian culture.

Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands was written in 1966 by Jorge Amado, one of Brazil’s most accomplished novelists. It tells the story of Dona Flor, a young woman living in the northeast of Brazil and married to
Vadinho. The plot begins with the sudden death of Dona Flor’s husband, known for being irresponsible and a great lover. Dona Flor remarries with pharmacist Teodoro, a well-respected man and described as being the exact opposite of Vadinho. The story evolves and Teodoro, Dona Flor and the ghost of Vadinho end up sharing the same bed and living together as a triplet.

This novel can be interpreted in many ways. My favorite version is the one that describes Brazilian culture as the perfect blend of formality and informality. In Brazil, the stiffness of behavior (Teodoro) and relaxed and unofficial style (Vadinho) walk together, hand-in-hand, in a balanced and yet chaotic way. Brazilians love to overlap work with social life; we exercise rule-setting but praise flexibility. In day-to-day life, Brazilians can have the most respectful manners towards their coworkers and yet call them by their nicknames. In addition, we talk to people on the streets with proximity regardless of being strangers.

There is no moral judgment here. It is what it is. When it comes to overcoming the cultural shock, there is no good or bad, worse or better. I feel strongly that understanding these cultural idiosyncrasies and ambiguities is an important step toward overcoming the cultural shock and emphathizing better with students.

LogicPrep's 2018 Summer Reading List

Summer is (almost) here, and you've earned the right to relaxation. Whether you're planning to spend your summer at the beach or you're traveling somewhere new, don't forget to bring along a book. Each year, the LP family (even Marcel, our four-legged team member, contributed this year!) compiles their top picks for the summer, and we're confident you'll find something you'll like from the list below.

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Published in 2015, in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, this book takes the form of an address by Coates to his teenage son about the history and continuing struggle of African-Americans (particularly African-American men) in the United States. For the many of us who have not experienced this struggle firsthand and never will, the book is a necessary eye-opener, and for those who have already considered the struggle deeply, an eye-widener. Coates viscerally brings home the perpetual fear that young black men live in by repeatedly returning the focus to his own body: to his understanding, throughout his own life, that his body -- his life -- could be wrested from him at any time by a system that constantly flexes its power over him and those like him. A powerful reminder that America contains many different worlds for its many different citizens, and that progress depends on a deeper understanding of all of them.

Kurt Vonnegut's sardonic second novel details the doomed martian invasion of Earth as seen through the eyes of Malachi Constant, a fabulously wealthy and lucky man. Constant's epic journey eventually ends on Titan, a moon of Saturn, and is juxtaposed throughout the novel with themes of American aristocracy, fate, and the space-time continuum. Stylistically, it's dark and existential -- similar in style to David Sedaris or Chuck Palahniuk -- but ultimately enjoyable because it makes the reader feel that even if life is random, and we are not in control of our ultimate fate, we have the ability to enjoy each other's company and experience love in many different forms. 

Atlantic writer Derek Thompson’s first book Hit Makers is a nonfiction exploration of the last 100 years of media and the economics and psychology of pop culture. Eminently readable, the argument dances between anecdotes and case studies as varied as French Impressionism and Star Wars, “Rock Around the Clock” and “Lemonade,” and War and Peace and Fifty Shades of Grey. His core insight is actually borrowed from industrial designer Raymond Loewy, whose guiding maxim, “most advanced yet acceptable” (or MAYA), becomes a blueprint for Thompson’s argument that “hits” straddle a precarious line between newness and familiarity. Building on this fairly intuitive core insight, Thompson goes on to challenge traditional narratives about what makes things go “viral,” and makes some interesting claims about the last century’s greatest hits along the way. The book came out in 2016, so it (refreshingly) avoids interpreting everything retrospectively through the lens of the 2016 presidential election, though its theses certainly remain relevant to media today. Of practical interest to anyone with an entrepreneurial streak and general interest to anyone fascinated by media and pop culture, or who’s found themselves wondering why they can’t get “Call Me Maybe” out of their head.

Set in Los Angeles in the midst of the Great Depression, Ask the Dust tells the story of a struggling writer a glimmer of hope during a hopeless time. What I love so much about this book is the how Fante is able to capture the realness and nature of relationships.

A book written in the style of magical realism.

A book of essays about famous animals. From beloved pets of the famous to artistic subjects to explorer apes and world-changing discoveries - I couldn't put this book down!

By now we all know about Elon Musk and the incredible innovations of Tesla and SpaceX but Ashlee Vance tells who Elon is and how he got to the place that he is today. At a time that sustainable businesses and tech are two of the most sought-after fields, we are able to peek behind the curtain and see how two of the giants in this space were built and almost failed on numerous occasions. A must-read for anyone that is interested in the field of business, technology, sustainability, or innovation.

This book is about the incredible adventures of a man who lived in the countryside of Spain and was so obsessed with calvary books that he thought he was actually living in one.

I'm more than a little late to the game, but Americanah provides a fascinating window into some of the subtleties (and not-so-subtleties) of the issue of race in America... all embedded in a captivating personal story. A must-read, even if you're behind like I am!

Like John Irving's more famous works, The World According to Garp and Cider House Rules, The Hotel New Hampshire offers a blend of humor and tragedy in a coming-of-age novel that features both cosmopolitan and uniquely American characters. The eclectic cast of characters made this one of my favorite novels to read in high school, and I recommend it highly to anyone navigating adolescence or simply seeking an engaging tale.

Tells the story of Hannah and Anna, two young girls who face exile in two respective timelines. Hannah's family seeks sanctuary in pre-WWII Germany and Anna's in post-9/11 NYC. The link between the two women is uncovered as this sobering story illuminates two people coping with isolation, loss, and fear during two cataclysmic periods of human history.

This super quick read allowed me to engage thoughtfully in conversations about the current political climate -- not just regurgitating what I heard on the news, but placing today's administration in the context of history and political theory. And it's written so clearly that even an engineering major like me could understand (without falling asleep mid-sentence)!

I initially picked this book up for the thriller aspect but was sucked in by the detailed history of the 1893 World's Fair. An all-time favorite of mine, The Devil in the White City intertwines the rich, exciting history of the Chicago World's Fair and the horror of H. H. Holmes, an American serial killer, who used the fair to lure his victims to their death. A thrilling historical non-fiction novel-- what more could you want?

Tartt's novel is an exciting ride, "a murder mystery in reverse," as she depicts the tale not of who killed poor Bunny, but why? The book follows six friends in their educational journey about truth, beauty, and tragedy. While examining the virtues and vices that fuel ancient philosophies, they may or may not use what they learn in class to justify their actions, and moreover, inspire them in the first place.

This book, by Sheryl Sandberg, is a personal and practical take on how to foster resilience - in yourself and in others - after unthinkable tragedy. It has been a tremendously valuable resource for me and one that I've shared with every member of our team.

Given to me as a gift when I was a pup, perhaps I like this book because I share the same name with the cute shell. Two paws up for this charming book filled with funny pictures!

What is college for? To lead you towards a successful life? A meaningful life? OK, sure, but then what does that mean? Excellent Sheep is required reading for anyone going -- or dreaming of going -- to a selective school. The book argues that the nation’s elite institutions aren't doing a very good job of teaching students to ask the biggest questions about their lives: What are my values? What is my purpose? If you want to use your education to build a self, and not just a resume, then give this book a read.

A delightful children's tale about words and numbers.

Christopher McCandless, son of wealthy parents, graduates from Emory University as a top student and athlete. However, instead of embarking on a prestigious and profitable career, he chooses to give his savings to charity, rid himself of his possessions, and set out on a journey to the Alaskan wilderness.

The main character catches daily glimpses of a couple from the window of her train. She begins to make up her own story lines about the couple and begins to believe that her story is true life. One day, she witnesses something shocking and strange unfold in the backyard of the couple's home. She tells the authorities what she thinks she saw after learning that the woman in the couple is missing. Unable to decipher between her made up story and actual truth, she decides to do her own investigation. Meanwhile, she becomes a suspect, as police start to believe that she may have crossed a dangerous line.

Brilliant account of a 1979 Jailbird.

In one of the most important and beloved Latin American works of the twentieth century, Isabel Allende weaves a luminous tapestry of three generations of the Trueba family, revealing both triumphs and tragedies. The House of the Spirits is an enthralling saga that spans decades and lives, twining the personal and the political into an epic novel of love, magic, and fate.

This book is a collection of essays that originally appeared in The New York Times. Each essay focuses on a writer's exploration of a location that also inspired a famous author's work. If your favorite part of reading is being transported to a new place, this book will make your imagination soar!

Here’s a Novel Idea: Check Out the Library

I recently discovered this thing called a “library” where they just let you borrow books for
free, and let me tell you, it’s amazing.

For real, though, I’ve been on a library kick recently and can’t recommend it highly enough.
There are lots of books I’ve heard good things about, but sometimes I’m just not sure I want to
commit to buying them and setting aside shelf space for them. Enter the library.

LogicPrep São Paulo's library

LogicPrep São Paulo's library

I’ve read about two dozen library books in the past year -- novels, short story collections, non-fiction -- that I probably never would have read otherwise. Some of them I’ve researched on
“Best Of” lists, some of them have been staff picks, and some of them have just had interesting
or eye-catching covers. Some of them have been amazing, and some underwhelming. But all of
them have been worthwhile.

We often stress the importance of reading to our students -- it expands vocabularies, highlights effective communication of ideas, and introduces new perspectives. And these are all true! But you can’t read if you don’t have a book, and what I’ve found is that swinging by the library and grabbing something off the shelves increases the chances that in my downtime, I’ll read a few pages of whatever’s on hand rather than scroll through my phone.

So whether it’s your school’s library or your local public library (or even the LogicPrep Library-- available in São Paulo and coming soon to Miami!), I encourage you to stop by and grab whatever catches your eye. It makes it much more likely that you’ll reap the benefits of

Plus, they don’t even charge you!

Books to Read: How to Be a High School Superstar

Like many of the students who walk into my office, I spent my high school years
spread thinner than a pat of butter melting on a waffle. I did theater, cross-country
(running and skiing), track, student council, math team, etc. etc. etc. When my
Renaissance Man Approach to school was rewarded with admission to the Yale class of
2008, I felt that my tendency to overcommit myself had been justly rewarded. Sure, it
was a stressful and sleepless slog through four years of high school, but that was the
only way to get where I wanted to go, right?

I used to think so. I don’t anymore. One of the biggest influences behind this 180-
shift in my thinking is the work of Cal Newport, a computer science professor who writes
about the habits and hacks of people who manage to achieve a lot in life while still living
life. Cal has a book that I’d like to recommend to any high school student who feels that
the only way to succeed is to be either (a) a natural-born genius or (b) a stressed-out
zombie. In other words, a book I’d like to recommend to every high school student ever.

His book is:

The book’s pithy subtitle sums up the approach: Do Less, Live More, Get Accepted.

And if that sounds waaaaaay too good to be true, then this book might be for you.
Newport’s core philosophy is that the key to succeeding in high school is not to study
harder but study smarter. And what does that look like? To this question, he provides an
entire book full of practical answers, derived from actual case studies with students who
manage to organize their lives so they spend less time studying and participating in
extracurricular activities every week without sacrificing overall performance. Many of the
students he profiles actually manage to perform better than their peers and get into the
school of their dreams. “The big idea,” he writes, is to find a way to become less
overloaded and less stressed without becoming less impressive.”

How to Be a High School Superstar is passionately devoted to the idea that remarkable
achievements have much more to do with your study habits and schedules than your
innate talents. Unfortunately, the one class never offered in high school is: How to
Succeed in High School. The result is that most students – including my former self –
resort to a crude, throw-yourself- at-the- wall approach, driven by the perverse logic of
more exhaustion = better. Newport exposes the flaws in this thinking, showing that
studying itself is an art form, and one that can be practiced and improved upon. Along
the way, he offers blueprints to chart your own path to a less stressed, more successful

For those looking to dip their toes into Newport’s work, head on over to his blog by clicking the button below.

Improve Your ACT Score by Practicing This Skill

A lot of students starting out the ACT or SAT prep process freeze up when it comes to the reading section. They'll say, "I'm just not a fast reader," or "not a good reader," or "I don't remember what I read." Often, they're already better readers than they think they are ... but there are ways to get even better.

Reading is a skill you practice and improve at throughout your whole life. The more you do it, the better you'll get at moving quickly and absorbing what's on the page ... and you'll also get good at recognizing what your brain needs to hold onto, and what's less important. So here are some tips to maximize your reading skills, not just for the test but for life -- which, of course, is what it's all about.


As with anything in life that you want to be good at, it all comes down to practice. Results don't show up overnight but over a sustained period of dedicated application. And the best way to build practice into your life is to ...



If you just say to yourself, "I'm gonna practice my reading this week -- I really mean it this time," the week is likely to come and go (again) without you ever cracking that book. But if you say, "This week, on Monday through Friday from 7:00-7:30 pm, I'm going to sit in my favorite chair with [book that I'm really excited about] and try to get through X number of pages," your odds of actually doing it go way up. Best of all, before long it becomes second nature: instead of having to force yourself to sit down at the same time every day, you'll find it feels strange NOT to.



The best way to keep yourself practicing anything is to find the joy in it, and reading is no different -- so choose something you think you'll like. When I was going through a Stephen King phase in high school, I had a teacher scoff, "It's like chewing gum for the mind ... there's no substance!" Maybe, maybe not, but who cares?! It doesn't have to be "great literature" ... it just has to be fun!



Find someone who wants to read the same book, and challenge each other to get through chapters so you can talk about it, the same way you would about Game of Thrones or anything else you love. Even better: do it together, in the same time and place, so you can really hold each other accountable.



Many people, when reading, hear themselves actually saying the words in their head as they go along ... meaning you're only reading as fast as you can talk, which is a fraction of the speed you're actually capable of. This is called "subvocalization," and you want to train yourself out of it. Instead of hearing or listening to the words, try to visualize what the words represent, and suddenly the book will become a fast-paced movie in your mind.



This is similar to the memorization technique called a "memory palace." Here's how a memory palace works: in order to memorize something -- say, items in a long list -- you envision yourself walking through a familiar environment, such as your house, and "placing" the different items at locations in the house. The premise is that, by linking these new items with places that are familiar to you, it will create associations that you can hold onto. The same idea can work when you read. If a new character is introduced, maybe imagine that she looks like your second-grade teacher, and it might be easier to remember the things she says because she has a familiar voice. If the book takes place in some grand mansion, maybe it can look like that art museum from that class trip last year, and you'll remember that the first scene in the book happens in the room with your favorite painting on the wall.


Whatever you do, recognize that your "inner reader" will really kick into gear when reading is not a chore, but a pleasure. If you've never liked reading, I can practically guarantee you it's just because you haven't found the material you click with or the reading habits that work best for you. So if this sounds like you, keep looking ... and keep reading!

The books you really need to read this summer

Summer is finally here, and that means it's time to relax with a good book. But what book should you read? Well, that's where we come in. We've compiled the top picks from LP (even Francois, our four-legged team member!) for you to dive into as soon as school is out. Ready, set, READ!

Duckworth was awarded the MacArthur "genius" grant for her work on the study of grit -- that quality of relentless stick-to-itiveness that predicts success better than talent, intelligence, and just about any other characteristic. What is it, and how can we develop it? I think there's no better time to come across this book than your school years, when you are discovering the passions that will coalesce into a lifelong sense of purpose, and when you are looking into a future full of the time and potential to fulfill that purpose.

A sports writer and economist team up to write a "moneyball" approach to why some teams fail and others succeed in soccer. They do a great job delving into the sometime conservative and close minded word of soccer and showing how the game is poised to change with the introduction of "big data". They also pepper the book with great soccer anecdotes. A must for any soccer fan!

The misadventures of a brilliant but deeply flawed protagonist set in New Orleans. John Kennedy Toole's sole literary effort is picaresque charmer that is full of laughs.

A wonderful exploration about how the language you’re born into at times shapes – and at times doesn’t shape – how you see the world. Also there’s a long form exploration about how humans across cultures and eras have divided the visible spectrum into different discrete colors. If you love language and ideas this book is for you   

The story of one lawyer, Ken Rose, and his team as they represent inmates on death row. The author follows one inmate's story in particular as Ken and his team tries to save him from execution. 

This book is charming and a lovely read. In this novel we experience 20th century Russia through the eyes of an aristocrat under house arrest in the high-end Hotel Metropol. I found this book to offer a refreshing and gently humorous perspective on daily life for the fallen aristocracy, through a period of political tumult and change. 

If there's one thing I know, it's that being a gentleman is important. This guide can teach even a complete dog everything he needs to know, from how to dress to how to write the best handwritten note. Two paws way up!

I first found out about this book through the New Yorker article written by the same author. The shorter snippet was a beautifully-written and completely heartbreaking precursor to an equally honest, tragic memoir of a neurosurgeon battling stage IV lung cancer. Definitely made me cry. Highly recommend it.

Through a family's story that is utterly unusual and at the same time surprisingly relatable, Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves made me reflect a lot about the experience of growing up, trust, and family relationships. This book is rich but doesn't take itself too seriously -- I found it entertaining and touching (and a good vocab-builder to boot!).  A word to those who hate spoilers, if you read this book, do NOT read the back cover first!

I first heard Bryan Stevenson when I caught an interview with him on the radio in the UK. I was very struck by his story, how as a student at Harvard law he did an internship in Georgia and met a prisoner on death row for the first time, the journey he took to becoming a lawyer and then setting up the Equal Justice Initiative to challenge the bias against the poor and against black people. After hearing the outline of his life, I just had to buy his book to fill in all the details. And it was worth it to read what an amazing difference this man has made to so many people’s lives. An inspiration.

As a huge sci-fi and fantasy geek, I loved these books as a high-school student. The story is captivating and R.A. Salvatore creates a world that's rich with lore and wonderment. 

Though Rudyard Kipling is a controversial author today for his views on race expressed in the famous "White Man's Burden" poem, Kim is a beautifully crafted tale of an orphan's coming-of-age. Kipling demonstrates a deep sense of compassion for India's people, a surprising contrast with his image today.

George Saunders' most recent book combines the true story of Abraham Linclon's son's death with the Buddhist concept of the "bardo," a transitional state between death and the afterlife. Narrated by a cast of ghosts watching the events from the bardo, this novel is too weird for words, in the best way. 

This book was assigned as required reading during one of my high-school summers. I forget which summer it was, but I do remember dutifully buying the paperback in June and then proceeding to ignore it all summer long. When September rolled around, my teacher somehow forgot to give us a reading quiz about it, and so the book stayed on my shelf, unread, a testament to my lazy summer. A couple of years ago, I was visiting my parents' house, and, looking for something to read, I picked up that old, reprimanding paperback. Once I started reading, I couldn't put the book down: it was so wise, and moving, and strangely relevant to my own life. 
Once you reach your late teens, novels that cover the whole span of a career or a life suddenly become a lot more interesting. This is one of the best such novels, I think.

This book explores the difference between good companies and those that become great!  Concepts in this book have helped me understand how to place our team members in positions that they will both thrive in and enjoy.  Great book for many of our students that want to study business.

A memoir of the author's childhood growing up in impoverished Ireland, the book is certainly sad, but no one ever mentions how funny it is, which is what makes it so uplifting. Humor carried this guy through some real tragedy.

This is a particularly relevant time in our country's history to read this beautiful novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which details individual and immigrant experiences that collide head-on with the "American dream" our history teachers tell us is ubiquitous and universally accessible. It also highlights aspects of American culture that we as readers may be blind too -- or perhaps intentionally overlooking -- through the lens of characters so relatable, you feel by the end that their stories are your own.

I can't get enough of Liane Moriarty these days, and this book might just be my favorite written by her. Life for Alice as a 29 year-old is beautiful: married to the love of her life, remodeling their first home together, and expecting their first child. After a bad accident at her Friday spin class, she wakes up after being knocked unconscious on the gym floor and learns she's actually 39, has 3 children, is in the midst of a bad divorce, and doesn't remember the last 10 years of her life. 

A blend of memoir and sociological study, this book offers unique and important perspective into the state of the working class and social mobility in America today.

Part memoir, travelogue, literary study, and stream-of-consciousness monologue, Out of Sheer Rage is undoubtedly the funniest and most profound book ever written about failing to write a book. Read this if you're someone who, like Dyer, struggles with procrastination, perfectionism, laziness, or any of the other excuses people invent to prevent themselves from doing whatever it is they want to do.

A page turner about a slave on the run. A must read for anyone interested in American History.

This book skillfully touches on the the immigrant experience, the clash of cultures, the conflicts of assimilation, and, the tangled ties between generations. The author reveals not only the defining power of the names and expectations bestowed upon us by our parents, but also the means by which we slowly, come to define ourselves. I could identify so much with this novel, coming from an immigrant family, myself.

Kurt Vonnegut is a master of crafting pulsating empathy that makes complex contemporary social discussions immediate and accessible, and Cat’s Cradle is a prime example of his singular ability. This 1963 novel is a brilliant satirical and insightful exploration of the dual-edged sword that is technological progression in our increasingly interconnected, globalized world — and it contains one of my favorite chapters of writing that I’ve ever read in my 23 years, Chapter 99.

For a long time, I judged The Bell Jar based on its melodramatic reputation and cover. One day last summer I opened the book out of curiosity, expecting a sappy, overdramatic story, and instead found a humorous story of a girl with a keen wit who works as an intern at a fashion magazine one summer in the 1950's. Of course she eventually descends into madness, but it's a madness where she never stops making fun of other people. The clear prose kept me hooked, and I was able to finish it in a day.

Just because a book was assigned by your English teacher doesn't mean it's not going to be an incredible story.

I remember a high school English class where we were reading a Jane Austen novel about marriage and etiquette and social class -- maybe Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility -- and the teacher opened the floor for discussion. There was silence, until finally a student raised her hand and asked, "Don't any of these people have a JOB?"

When you're in school, it can feel like there's "reading for work" and "reading for fun." Maybe your teacher assigns you something from the 1800’s with a title like The Simply Marvelous Fable of the Aristocratic Daughter: A Novel in Seven Parts by Lord Duddlesbury Fudgewafer VI, and after the third line ("Hitherto she'd not known the constancy of an avuncular patron bereft of filial affinity" zzzzzz) you want to jump out a window, because at least there'd be more action.

Then there's the reading you do for fun, because you love it and you want to know what's going to happen next -- and, most of all, what's going to happen in the end. Maybe it's Lord of the Rings. Maybe it's Harry Potter. But the best of all worlds is what happens when reading for fun and reading for work end up being the same. I'll never forget two books I was assigned in English class, but which quickly became some of my favorite "reading for fun."

The first was The Crucible (okay, it's a play, not a book), by Arthur Miller. At first glance, you might think it's another one of these Lord Flooksbury Hitherteethither tomes, because it takes place in Puritan New England in the late 1700's ... but only a page or two in, I was hooked. This story was as good as any highly addictive TV show I'd ever watched. Who's telling the truth, and who's lying? And what are they trying to hide? And once the lies have started, will the truth protect them anymore? Wait till you get to the scene where Elizabeth has to decide whether to tell the truth or lie to a judge ... not knowing that the "right" answer might get her in even more trouble than she realizes. Take a back seat, "Game of Thrones" -- this story is a GUT-WRENCHER.

Then, there was Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky. I know, you're thinking, "Oh God, everyone's named Thisovich or Thatovna, and I can't tell them apart, and they're all just crying and drinking vodka all the time." Sorry, but NO. This was a heart-stopping thriller that I couldn't put down -- and oh by the way, it turned out to be ONE OF THE GREAT LITERARY CLASSICS OF ALL TIME. It's a murder-mystery novel where you know the whole time who the killer is. Spoiler alert: It's Raskolnikov! Except that's not a spoiler at all, because you, the reader, are with the murderer as he thinks about the murder, plans it, and executes it. And then you're with him for all that follows. This, of course, is where the palm-sweating comes in, as detective Porfiry Petrovich gets closer and closer to his prey, and Raskolnikov deals with the constant consequences of keeping this terrible secret.

So what's the point of all this? The point is that just because a book was assigned by your English teacher doesn't mean it's not going to be an incredible story. In fact, the reason most of these works survived long enough to be classics is exactly BECAUSE they are great stories: because they made people want to know what was going to happen next and how they would end. Charles Dickens might sound like a yawn to you right now ... but his novels were originally published in weekly installments in magazines, leaving readers dying to find out what happens next. Sound familiar? Kind of like ... how a TV show works?

So the next time your teacher hands you a masterpiece by Lord Siddleswich, don't moan and roll your eyes just yet ... it could well be the "Game of Thrones" of its time. And of yours.


-Adam O, Instructor