Summer is my time to readâ€¦whatever I want. As a fan of a variety of writing styles, my to-read list is growing and a trip to Barnes and Noble beckons me. Here are some books I've read recently and added to my list of favorites. Each one made me think about our culture and history in new ways.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
A look back into the world of 1960s Jackson, Miss., The Help's storyline shot to popularity after the release of last summer's film adaptation of the same name. But if you saw the movie, don't think you got everything the book has to offer. The novel shares more of the story about a young white woman, Skeeter Phelan, aspiring to be a journalist, who tackles the tough, hush-hush realities of life from the perspective of "the help."
Appropriately jumping through the first-person accounts of Skeeter and Minnie and Aibileen, two black maids, The Help uses tongue-in-cheek humor, memoir-like story-telling and historic timeline landmarks to communicate the smoldering angst in the already sweltering South.
A cry from both sides, the colors of black and white merge to open readers' eyes to the aching beginnings of the civil rights movement. The story raises questions about our prejudices and our perspectives to teach a lesson to a new generation. Through individual stories and converging plotlines, this novel offers a realistic look into America's history.
Warning: contains some language and violence
11/22/63 by Stephen King
Ever wish you could change history? High school teacher Jake Epping wanted to-and found a way. With a plot that twists around mixed feelings, the novel travels through time with Epping as he assumes another identity and waits for the opportunity to erase John F. Kennedy's assassination from American history. Epping finds himself doing things he never imagined-from stealing a car to coming face to face with Lee Harvey Oswald-and learns more about himself outside his present.
Along the way, he encounters struggles against obstinate time itself and has to decide between the love of his life and the life of a president. Combating physical pain, his own memories and a shift in morals and rights, Epping comes across "echoes" in the past and discovers hints for his future actions. The underlying theme fights for handling reality as is and making the most of what exists. You can't change the past, but you can change the future.
Warning: contains language, sexuality and violence
Emma by Jane Austen
It's summertime, and what's better than sitting outside under a shady tree with a cup of tea and a good book? A classic Austen novel, Emma takes the reader back to the obstacles and fancies of young women in early 19th-century England. With humor, wit and good intentions, the story shows Emma there's more to life than being clever. Emma's impression of herself shifts as she discovers more about her own feelings regarding marriage, family and other people, learning that love comes in all shapes, sizes and classes. When Emma thinks she has it all figured out, something happens to surprise her and change her mind. She's a self-acclaimed matchmaker, but will she end up meeting her own match?
Emma is an interesting comparison to modern-day novels geared for young women and, likewise, a refreshing old take. One suggestion: Read it with a British accent. It helps with readability.
Hear No Evil: My Story of Innocence, Music and the Holy Ghost by Matthew Paul Turner
In Hear No Evil, Turner shares his experiences, perils and laughs through his journey in the Christian music business. From the beginning-with his admiration for Amy Grant-to his struggles with sticking to the truth, Turner travels with mini-memoirs to compel the reader to consider why we think the way we do about music and faith.
Growing up in a legalistic home, Turner's double-take humor reveals the incredulities and absurdities of an all too common thread of Christianity. He asks unspoken questions that mesh inward and outward expressions of faith while relentlessly using his own experiences to communicate the shallow forms of Christian judgment.
Hear No Evil is a conversational, thought-provoking read meant for discussion. While the overarching canopy is music, the stories bluntly drag out the facades Christians use and ask the reader to banish them and be real. Turner's sarcasm, appeal to truth and real life sentiments turn stories you couldn't make up into a call to reconsider the sincerity of personal faith.
Editor's note: This is the first in a series of summer reading recommendations from World on Campus writers. Each writer chose a few of his or her personal favorites to share with readers who might be looking for something new, or old, to dive into before class starts next semester. Don't miss the other reviews in ourSummer Reading series. Enjoy!