We cannot be everywhere, and we cannot experience everything ourselves, so books exist to lead us into lands we may never set foot in. There are way too many books in the world today that if you think about it, your brain will be on overload. Since you cannot read every one of the published works, you can choose a few to see through each year.
We have lined up five must-read titles you want to get your hands on before this year ends.
Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
This famous book is one you may have read as a student and probably even written an essay on as part of coursework. It is set during the Great Depression, and two men, Lennie Small and George Milton, are the main characters. They couldn’t be more different, as you will learn from an online essay on Of Mice and Men: Milton is intelligent but uneducated, while Small is bulky, strong, and mentally disabled. They dream of owning their piece of land, but Small would rather touch soft animals – though he always accidentally kills them. Most essay examples show George to be Small’s protector even after all the antics he pulls – and there are several of them.
Their dream becomes a reality when they get into a deal to own a piece of land with a third party, Candy. They have several more adventures together, meet new people, and continue to live a hilarious track on the way.
The Fourth Child – Jessica Winter
This book is the one if you are wondering what to read on a long holiday commute. It is about Jane, a book-smart, devoutly Catholic girl that gets pregnant while still in high school. In 1991, she lives in New York with her three kids, who are now growing up and making her start thinking about her life. She joins a local pro-life group to satiate parts of her spirituality and intellect that are awakening with the growing independence of her kids. She also adopts a European girl, Mirela, who is quite difficult after being deprived of affection at infancy. As she devotes most of her attention to Mirela, going from therapy to therapy searching for something that will help her, Jane’s relationship with the rest of her family is truly tested. This emotional book is an eye-opener and relatable.
Aftershocks – Nadia Owusu
The writer starts this book with a list of ancestries – Armenian-Somali-American – and Owusu is out to find out who she is from the get-go. Her story takes the reader to Tanzania, Italy, Ethiopia, and then Uganda, and almost every step of the way, there are new threats to her identity. This perfect read for anyone in high school, college, or university, sees Owusu learn of her childhood, something about her dead father that almost destabilizes her, right before she takes a turn to decide who she really is. Her father, whom she thought had died of brain cancer, actually died of aids, and a deserted blue chair that is in the shade her father liked, is her home for the days it takes for her to find herself.
My Year Abroad – Chang Rae Lee
Twenty-year-old Tiller Bardmon drops out of college and takes some time off his ordinary life to travel abroad. He goes to Asia because he is one-eighth Asian and looking to know a bit of his roots there. He settles in Stagno, as in “stagnant,” where he meets an older woman, Val, in witness protection. They settle into a quiet domesticated life that suits Tiller perfectly since he is not exactly the out-going or loud kind. Tiller plans to take a sabbatical then get back to college where his fees are already paid, and all needs are taken care of by a wealthy dad, but those plans are squashed when he meets Pong Lou, a Chinese chemist. The novel takes another turn as Tiller loses the plot and allows Pong to take the wheel.
Gay Bar – Jeremy Atherton Lin
Gay bars have been considered safe places where people meet their mates with their taste in sexual partners, but Lin discovers it takes way too much effort to make to even step into one. He settles into a cruise where he is constantly going into these bars for companionship and research too, and his book is one story after another of adventures and misadventures. If you want a read that tells it as it is, this book is the one to crack open this holiday season.
There is invaluable education in books of all genres, so you may want to pick up the habit if you haven’t. If you already know this, you probably need to be making a list of your next reads as the year winds up. Audiobooks are just as good.