While March Madness festivities have come to a halt, March is Reading Month is in full swing. See below for The Michigan Times staff book recommendations for the month:
Gracie Warda’s pick: “The Other Mrs.” by Mary Kubica
If you’re looking for a fresh psychological thriller that you can’t seem to put down, look no further than Mary Kubica’s “The Other Mrs.”. Released earlier this year, the book follows the story of the Foust family, who, after fleeing their past in Chicago for a suburban town in Maine, are key suspects in the murder of their new neighbor, Morgan Baines. The twisty novel is perfect for fans of B.A. Paris, Lisa Gardner and Lisa Jewell novels, and will soon be made into a Netflix adaptation. While reading this novel, you will make assumptions. You will try to piece things together, and make sense of the ever-changing storyline. You will think that you have got it figured out, but you will be wrong.
Bella Biafore’s pick: “Tweak: Growing up on Methamphetamines” by Nic Sheff
“Tweak”, originally published in 2007 and written by recovering addict Nic Sheff, gives an inside look on the gruesome side of addiction. Nic, who struggles with methamphetamine addiction, rocks you through the treacherous waters of healing, recovery and coping with sickness. The story does not sugar coat anything, giving you an almost surreal feeling while reading through its pages. Even when I wasn’t reading, I couldn’t help but think about Nic and his struggles throughout my daily life. Regardless of your literary preferences, “Tweak” will suck you in and change your perspective on addiction and those who are brought into it. Overall, “Tweak” has a sense of relatability for everyone and while the story may break your heart, it will warm it even more.
Makenzie Schroeder’s pick: “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou
I am not one to pick up a memoir and dive in, yet “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou has become a staple in my collection of favorites. Full of suffering and gumption, Angelou showcases her painful childhood and journey to adulthood with all the pieces that influenced her along the way. It is a sobering tale that still manages to shine through with themes of hope, as Angelou embodies what it means to persevere.
Growing up in the rural South with her brother, both raised by their grandmother, Angelou must learn to navigate a painful world. From living in a racist community to the abuse she faced by her mother’s partner, she tells the stories of what it feels like to be alone.
This tragic beginning may leave Angelou with deep wounds, but the beauty of the book is her ability to overcome.
“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” tells a story of breaking the chains from the powers that be and learning the independence of liberation. Angelou takes the risk of putting her life on display, and I couldn’t imagine the literary community without her contribution. Through tears, I turned the last page of the most moving memoir feeling her resilience.
Sara Alouh’s pick: “The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson” with Introduction and Notes by Rachel Wetzsteon
“The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson” is a must-read for lovers of poetry! Dickinson’s prose and style are captured beautifully in this posthumous publication. Her writing masterfully captures the essence of the human experience by putting into words inexplicable feelings we all share. Her experiences as a young, unmarried woman living in the restrictive 19th century did not stop her from penning wonderfully written, universally applicable poems.
As a part of the Romantic Literary movement, Dickinson often wrote about death and immortality. Dickinson is a person who had the time and solitude to contemplate her place in the world and her own self and therefore knows herself very well. That comes across very clearly in her writing and is something very admirable.
This is the perfect book for someone like me who doesn’t have the patience for a linear revelation of a narrative. With a collection like this, you can skip around to a random page and still find a gem. You will stumble upon a poem that flows off the tongue and makes you re-evaluate how you think about yourself. My personal favorite, (so far) is “Because I could not stop for Death”, which reflects on Dickinson’s relationship with death and her feelings on immortality.
Ryan Lanxton’s pick: “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka’s novella “The Metamorphosis” explores the life of a salesman named Gregor Samsa who wakes up one day to find himself transformed into a beetle. With no explanation ever given as to how he has turned into a giant bug, he must learn how to deal with his new life.
Trapped by his family within his room out of their fear of what he has become, Gregor’s life slowly devolves into one of confusion, depression and eventually his suicide by starvation.
Depressing right? Kafka wrote the novella in 1915 during an era in literature known as modernism. Kafka, perhaps the greatest of the modernist writers, explored themes of religion, surrealism and life within industrial societies in “The Metamorphosis,” his best known work.
But what truly makes this novella great is not just the sci-fi elements of a man being transformed into a beetle or the confusion surrealism leaves with you, but the emotions it can evoke.
This is one of the few stories I’ve read that really moved me, especially when reading how Gregor has to weigh the options of remaining a burden to his family or sacrificing everything he knows to make them happy.
Santiago Ochoa’s pick “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez
In the midst of Colombia’s colonial era, José Arcadio Buendía and his wife Ursula Iguaran leave their hometown of Riohacha in search of a new home. While sleeping one night, a dream of a city of mirrors comes to Jose Arcadio. Following this dream, he decides to found the city of Macondo on a riverside. At first, Macondo is a Utopia. Jose Arcadio spends his days toiling in his makeshift lab looking to make gold from lead and pondering life’s meaning. All the while the town and his children grow.
While the book is bursting with fantastical characters and events, it is the almost liquid-like flow of time that gives it character. Over the course of seven generations of Buendias, the reader sees how all of Macondo’s children are doomed to repeat their ancestor’s own transgressions, serving almost as the mirrors of Jose’s dream. During this time, Colombia’s own history begins to take a grip over the relatively isolated town. A civil war breaks out, capitalists take a hold of its industry and a railroad spells the death of the town.
It is only in his last moments of life that Aureliano Buendia, the last of the Buendia bloodline, deciphers a century-old text that predicts all of Macondo’s events. Upon this realization, a tropical hurricane blows away Aureliano along with the rest of Macondo, destroying all traces of the town’s existence in the process.
“One Hundred Years of Solitude” created a landmark moment in Latin American literature that brought Colombia’s history to the forefront of the art form. It ultimately tells the tale of a newly freed society once again falling captive. Not to the Spanish royalty this time around but to the rampant spread of capitalism, showing once again how, sometimes, history is doomed to repeat itself.