Earlier this year a friend of mine asked me to put together a reading list for her. She’s been wanting to read more classics, but said she sometimes had a hard time with them, so I decided to do a mix of both new and old, mainly because I believe everyone should read a little (or a lot) of both. Therefore, it’s almost half classic, half new, but all fantastic!
If any of you are interested to join in the fun, here is the first annual book list of the Well-Read Twenty Something Book Club!
*the highlighted ones are the books I have reviewed.
1.The Night Circus by Erin Morgnestern.
Following the career of Celia, a magician born with unbelievable talents, and Marco, a self-taught illusionist The Night Circus transports you to Le Cirque des Reves, a magical circus that appears in towns all over the world without warning and only opens at night. Celia and Marco are unknowingly bound to each other in a magical competition enforced by their mentors. The two must prove who is the superior magician and Le Cirque des Reves is their battleground.
This book brings magic alive and is incredibly fun to read. There are few dull moments, and a few side plots that are just as interesting as the main one.
“There are no more battles between good and evil, no monsters to slay, no maidens in need of rescue. Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience, at least the ones worth something, in any case.”
2. Joan of Arc by Mark Train
This book is Mark Twain like you’ve never seen before. If I didn’t see his name right there on the cover, I would never believe the same person who wrote the books about Tom and Huck, wrote this one about Joan of Arc. This book is long, descriptive, deeply researched, and wonderful. Twain said this was his favorite book and he put more time into this book than any of his other ones. Twain spent 12 years researching and 7 years writing this brilliant novel, and frankly if anyone spends that much time on a book, I think it deserves our attention. This book has been one of my top 5 favorite books since I read it in 2007 (while in France) and I try to reread it as often as possible.
“To believe yourself brave is to be brave; it is the one only essential thing.”
3. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
What’s a book list without a WWII novel? This is a much different WWII story than most of the books I have read, and I think that’s why it captivated me so much. Set in Southern France the story follows two sisters, who could not be more unlike each other than they are, and yet they both find themselves caught in the war in ways they could never foresee.
I won’t say this is my favorite WWII story, but it was very, very good, and the book captivates you quickly. It really shows a new battle that we don’t think about during WWII and it reminds us of the impact the war had on ordinary people living ordinary lives.
(Has nothing to do with the plot, but it speaks to my heart).
“I had forgotten how gently time passes in Paris. As lively as the city is, there’s a stillness to it, a peace that lures you in. In Paris, with a glass of wine in your hand, you can just be.”
4. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
I had never read an Agatha Christie book until last summer and now I’ve read 8…I’m obsessed. She really is the Queen of Mystery. And Then There Were None is one of her more popular books, and it’s a stand-alone novel so you don’t have to worry about not knowing her previous characters. It’s about 10 random guests invited to a party on an island and chaos ensues. It’s a fun who-done-it book.
I don’t know if her books are technically classics but they should be, so I’m counting this book as one ;).
“Crime is terribly revealing. Try and vary your methods as you will, your tastes, your habits, your attitude of mind, and your soul is revealed by your actions.”
5. The Martian by Andy Weir
Guy stranded on Mars with no communication to the outside world, but he’s a botanist and an astronaut so he’ll be ok, right? This book follows Mark Watney, through the means of his daily logs on the computer, as he struggles to find a way to survive on mars after the rest of the crew leaves him behind under the false pretense that he died in an storm. This book is full of humor and excitement, and, even with all the science talk that I did not understand, it keeps you reading until the end.
(This one basically sums up the entire book).
“Things didn’t go exactly as planned, but I’m not dead, so it’s a win.”
6. 1984 by George Orwell
Ok, I know this one is a little cliché to have on a book club list, but if you haven’t read it you get to get on it, so here’s your motivation. This book is perhaps the most famous dystopian novel ever written, and it really is craziness in 330 pages.
In a world of total government control and no personal freedom, Winston finds himself experiencing thought of his own, which is a very serious crime and he tries his hardest to hide. His thoughts, however, start to turn into actions and he begins to discover freedom without the government.
“Being in a minority, even in a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.”
7. The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
I actually haven’t read this book, but everyone I know who has read it raves about it, so i’m going out on a limb and recommending it prematurely, also I am planning on reading it this year, so if it’s horrible, I’ll apologize ;).
This novels follows the story of the last priest in Southern Mexico after a new political movement has taken over and God has been outlawed. The priest is on the run as he tries to remain true to his religion, yet still keep his life.
8. Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee
I think I must have an obsession with France because this is 3rd book on the list that takes place primarily in France (4th if you count Night Circus, but that kind of takes place all over the place), but oh well, they have good wine and cheese, so it’s a good place to be obsessed with. Queen of the Night is about an up and coming opera soprano in the “Phantom of the Opera” days of Paris. This book is compelling and beautifully written. There were a few times I had to push myself to keep going, but overall the story took me along with it, and I really enjoyed it.
“When the earth opens up under your feet, be like a seed. Fall down; wait for the rain.”
9. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
This book is CRAZY! I remember when it was really popular, but I never read it, and then when I finally did, I was blown away. It was fantastic.
The Girl WIth The Dragon Tattoo is about a journalist who gets fired for liable and then is immediately hired by a millionaire who wants him to investigate the disappearance of his niece, who disappeared roughly 20 years earlier. There is also a girl with a dragon tattoo. It’s good…and crazy.
“Armageddon was yesterday, today we have a serious problem.”
And that’s a wrap! Happy reading everyone!