College Bound Book Club Selections
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Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of "the Brotherhood", and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be.
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
White Oleander tells the unforgettable story of Ingrid, a brilliant poet imprisoned for murder, and her daughter, Astrid, whose odyssey through a series of Los Angeles foster homes-- each its own universe, with its own laws, its own dangers, and its own hard lessons to be learned-- becomes a redeeming and surprising journey of self-discovery.
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
The first rule about fight club is you don't talk about fight club. Fight Club tells the story of a disenfranchised young man frustrated with his bureaucratic job and superficial relationships and disillusioned with the consumer culture's prepackaged pleasures. Relief for him and his peers comes in the form of Tyler Durden, the intensely charismatic inventor of Fight Club. Waiters, clerks, and middlemen seek out the satisfaction of secret after-hours boxing matches in the basements of bars, thinking they have found a way to live beyond their confining and stultifying lives. But in Tyler's world there are no rules, no limits, and no brakes.
The Sandman: Vol 1, Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
The Sandman is an unforgettable tale of the forces that exist beyond life and death told by weaving ancient mythology, folklore and fairy tales. A wizard attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. Fearful for his safety, the wizard kept him imprisoned in a glass bottle for decades. After his escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power. On the way, Morpheus encounters Lucifer and demons from Hell (the Justice League), and John Constantine (the Hellblazer).
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran: of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life and of the enormous toll repressive regimes exact on the individual spirit. Marjane's child's-eye-view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family.
The Round House by Louise Erdrich
One Sunday in the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface as Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. In one day, Joe's life is irrevocably transformed. He tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. Increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world for which he is ill prepared.
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. When she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
"Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet." So begins the story of this exquisite debut novel, about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. A profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, exploring the divisions between cultures and the rifts within a family, and uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut's absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes 'unstuck in time' after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut's) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.
We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
Darling is only ten years old, and yet she must navigate a fragile and violent world. In Zimbabwe, Darling and her friends steal guavas, try to get the baby out of young Chipo's belly, and grasp at memories of Before. Before their homes were destroyed by paramilitary policemen, before the school closed, before the fathers left for dangerous jobs abroad. But Darling has a chance to escape: she has an aunt in America. She travels to this new land in search of America's famous abundance only to find that her options as an immigrant are perilously few.
World War Z by Max Brooks
The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead. World War Z is the result.
March: Book One by John Lewis
March is a vivid, first-hand account of Lewis' lifelong struggle for civil and human rights (including his key roles in the historic 1963 March on Washington and the 1965 Selma-Montgomery March). Rooted in Lewis' personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.
Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof
Two Pulitzer Prize winners expose the most pervasive human rights violation of our era-the oppression of women in the developing world-and tell us what we can do about it.An old Chinese proverb says "Women hold up half the sky." Then why do the women of Africa and Asia persistently suffer human rights abuses?
Peace Like a River by L.L. Enger
Young Reuben Land has little doubt that miracles happen all around us, suspecting that his own father is touched by God. When his older brother flees a controversial murder charge, Reuben, along with his older sister and father, set off on a journey that will take them to the Badlands and through a landscape more extraordinary than they could have anticipated.
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
Are we what we eat? To a degree both engrossing and alarming, the story of fast food is the story of postwar America. Though created by a handful of mavericks, the fast food industry has triggered the homogenization of our society. Fast food has hastened the malling of our landscape, widened the chasm between rich and poor, fueled an epidemic of obesity, and propelled the juggernaut of American cultural imperialism abroad.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
The Jungle is the story of Jurgis Rudkus, a Slav immigrant, who marries frail Ona Lukoszaite and seeks security and happiness as a workman in the Chicago stockyards. Once there, he is abused by foremen, his meager savings filched by real estate sharks, and at every turn, he is plagued by the misfortunes arising from poverty, poor working conditions, and disease. Finally, in accordance with Sinclair's own creed, Rudkus turns to socialism as his way out.
Maus by Art Spiegelman
Maus is a haunting tale within a tale. Vladek's harrowing story of survival is woven into the author's account of his tortured relationship with his aging father. Against the backdrop of guilt brought by survival, they stage a normal life of small arguments and unhappy visits. This astonishing retelling of our century's grisliest news is a story of survival, not only of Vladek but of the children who survive even the survivors. Maus studies the bloody pawprints of history and tracks its meaning for all of us.
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
Clear-eyed and spirited, Taylor Greer grew up poor in rural Kentucky with the goals of avoiding pregnancy and getting away. But when she heads west with high hopes and a barely functional car, she meets the human condition head-on. By the time Taylor arrives in Tucson, Arizona, she has acquired a completely unexpected child, a three-year-old American Indian girl named Turtle, and must somehow come to terms with both motherhood and the necessity for putting down roots.
Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
One of the most beloved and bestselling novels of spiritual adventure ever published, it is the story of a man who embarks on a highly provocative intellectual adventure with a gorilla--a journey of the mind and spirit that changes forever the way he sees the world and humankind's place in it.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd, a New Jersey romantic who dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the fukú-the ancient curse that has haunted Oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still dreaming of his first kiss, is only its most recent victim-until the fateful summer that he decides to be its last.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
McMurphy swaggers into the mental ward like a blast of fresh air and turns the place upside down, starting a gambling operation, smuggling in wine and women, and egging on the other patients to join him in open rebellion. But McMurphy's revolution against Big Nurse and everything she stands for quickly turns from sport to a fierce power struggle with shattering results.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Obsessed with creating life itself, Victor Frankenstein plunders graveyards for the material to fashion a new being, which he shocks into life with electricity. But his botched creature, rejected by Frankenstein and denied human companionship, sets out to destroy his maker and all that he holds dear.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The system was simple. Everyone understood it. Books were for burning, along with the houses in which they were hidden. Guy Montag was a fireman whose job it was to start fires, and he enjoys his job. He had been a fireman for ten years, and never questioned the pleasure of the midnight runs nor the joy of watching pages consumed by flames. He never questioned anything until he met a seventeen-year-old girl who told him of a past when people were not afraid and a professor who told him of a future in which people could think.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Brave New World is a darkly satiric vision of a "utopian" future--where humans are genetically bred and pharmaceutically anesthetized to passively serve a ruling order. A powerful work of speculative fiction that has enthralled and terrified readers for generations, it remains remarkably relevant to this day as both a warning to be heeded as we head into tomorrow and as thought-provoking, satisfying entertainment.