- This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerlad While The Great Gatsby may be my all time favorite book, This Side of Paradise runs a close second. As Fitzgerald's debut novel, it helped cement his place in literary history, with good reason.
- Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad I read this book as a senior in high school and flat out hated it. I read it as a sophomore in college and loved it. This is just one example of the right thing at the right time, and I've found that my high school education introduced me to books much faster than I was ready to appreciate them. Just because you can understand literal meaning shows very little indication in what you will understand emotionally. Take some time to give things a second shot!
- Farenheit 451 A book about how important books are? I'm on board with that.
- Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison This is one book I read in high school that I managed to appreciate. The depth of Ellison's writing as well as his references to so many other literary sources makes this such an emotional, complex, rewarding read.
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott I read this book for the first time in the second grade and have sustained a great love for it over the years. It's a tender tale about the strength of women and the complexities of our lives.
- Rant by Chuck Palahnuik It was really difficult to choose just one Palahnuik, considering that the man is genius. What I really love about Rant is the layers upon layers of secret societies, bureaucracies, and conspiracies that pile up. And the way I have no idea how you could ever make this into a movie.
- The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall This book is an insane tale of adventure, theory, loss, literature, memory, and a one scary conceptual shark. A truly unique and intriguing read.
- Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer The first time I read this book I had borrowed it from the library, and I had become so obsessed with the tale of the missing sixth burrow of New York that the main character's father tells him, I actually photocopied the section before returning the book. I just couldn't stand to be without it. No worries, I have my own real copy now, so all of my neurosis can sleep in peace.
- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt This was actually my first foray into the dark workings of Tartt's mind, and I'll tell you what, I like it there. I love the way she combines art into her work; I recently read The Secret History and I'm excited to try The Little Friend next.
- The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides This book. I really don't have all the right words to describe how much I love this book. Anyone who tries to tell me it's boring or nothing happens can just get stared at blankly. It's also one of those rare cases where I love the movie, too. Middlesex and The Marriage Plot are also phenomenal reads.
- The Art of Art History; A Critical Anthology by Donald Preziosi This, no joke, was a textbook from college which I didn't return because I enjoyed it so much. Yes, I am one of those people. It's a series of essays on different topics in art with a range of authors, including some of the most important like Winckelmann, Hegel, and Foucault. Great for art lovers that interested in going more in depth!
- Public Enemies by Bryan Burough This book is dense like a textbook, but I flew through it because it's so well written. Burough brings to life a large cast of characters including Baby Faced Nelson, John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Bonnie and Clyde, and how their outlaw escapades helped build the FBI.
- The Defining Decade; Why Your Twenties Matter- And How to Make the Most of Them by Meg Jay, PhD I'm not big on self help books, but this was given to me as a college graduation present, and it ended up being a really important read for me. It helped affirm some of the goals I had been toeing around, and what common traps I needed to be watching for.
- The Judgment of Paris; The Revolutionary Decade that Gave the World Impressionism by Ross King If you're interested in French Impressionism, this is a must read. The stories centers mostly around the Salon, Monet, Manet, and Ernest Messionier... don't know who that last one is? Neither did I, and I have my B.A. in Art History. Chances are, if you've been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, you've walked past his work (and they're huge). How his legacy was erased is one of the most interesting portions of this book.
- Chasing Aphrodite; The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World's Richest Museum by Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino This is also an art book (sensing a theme in my interests?), and it talks about a very serious subject that is close to my heart. With a specialization in Greek and Roman antiquities and having worked in an auction house that was dedicated to providing artifacts that were not looted (with provenance to show this), I am very pro-returning artifacts to the country of origin (I'm looking at you, British Museum). This book focuses solely on the Getty, and provides an outstanding amount of first-hand information.
- Trickster's Choice by Tamora Pierce I was super obsessed with this book in high school, particularly due to the abundance of kick-ass female characters. Oh, and a shape-shifting crow that turns into a really cute boy, one of those fictional loves that literally ruined every guy I went to high school with (Umm, you're not Nawat. Bye.). Sequel: Trickster's Queen.
- Looking for Alaska by John Green Another one of those authors that I had a hard time picking just one title. I have so much love and respect for this dude who is providing really meaningful books for a genre that is plagued by nonsensical fluff (not that I have a thing against fluff, but there's only so much degradation of young minds I can take).
- Delirium by Lauren Oliver And here's why I can't be against all fluff, because I love this book. I read it in college and sobbed like a big, giant, lovesick baby at the end. I think the premise is really interesting; it's a dystopian future age where love (aka amor deliria nervosa) is treated as a disease and immunized against... but then Lena falls in love. Cue tragedy. Where are my kleenex. Apparently there are sequels/companions but I have yet to read them.
- How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff This book make a huge impact on me as a young person, mostly because of the very strange, stream of consciousness way it is written. It really opened my eyes to the way authors can bend rules to create a certain voice and mood for their work. I have yet to watch the movie, even though it's on Netflix, since I have very little faith in anyone's ability to capture the devastated yet deadpan voice of the narrator.
- Violet Eyes by Nicole Luiken I'm not even certain that this book, or its sequel Silver Eyes, are still in production (though I noticed you can buy it for Kindle!). This book was my obsession in the fifth grade, but don't let my age fool you, I kept reading it as I got older and picked up different things. Centered on two teenagers with violet eyes who are beginning to find out how different they are, and how their whole life is a set up. It sounds silly, but this book is dark. Like one scene involving a filing cabinet... let's just say I had a hard time opening filing cabinets for awhile.
With my nose in a book, Rachel