“Let’s be reasonable and add an eighth day to the week that is devoted exclusively to reading.” – Lena Dunham
Here are the ground rules: the only requirements were that the books be appropriate for high-school-aged readers, and that they not be books that regularly show up on high school reading lists. Fiction and nonfiction, memoir and sci-fi—it’s all here.
The Castle by Franz Kafka
Recommended by Sebastian von Zerneck
This book is a lot of fun! A land-surveyor is sent to a distant village to do some work for the castle which stands guard in the center of the village. Or is he? The narrator, “K.”, can’t quite get a confirmation that he was actually commissioned to work in the village. He tries to get to the castle to speak to an official about his situation, but he’s stymied by a dense bureaucracy and cloud of mysticism reinforced by the reverent attitude of the villagers about the castle. Full of comical characters like K.’s two assistants, you won’t know whether to laugh or to cry when you get to the “ending” (Franz Kafka died before he could complete the manuscript).
Factfulness by Hans Rosling
Recommended by Lee Miller
Wouldn’t it be nice to read a book that widens your perspective on what’s going on around the world and leaves you feeling positive about the future of humanity? The late Hans Rosling, renowned physician and international development advocate, offers a fascinating and compelling counterpoint to the negative media narrative we’ve become accustomed to. He breaks down how our cognitive biases distort the way we take in information, how statistics can be misleading even when they’re correct, and how our picture of the world changes dramatically when we think more globally and long-term. Factfulness shows that when we put things in perspective (example: the standard of living of Sweden in 1948 is similar to that of Egypt today!), we can be both more serene about the world around us and more effective in promoting progress.
The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
Recommended by David Massey
Harry Dresden is a mild mannered detective who also happens to be the only wizard listed in the Chicago phone book. A great series for high school age readers who are interested in seeing what being a workaday wizard might actually get up to.
SPQR by Mary Beard
Recommended by Katie Noice
This book charts origin and the fall of the Roman Republic. As it discusses the fall of the Roman Republic, it tracks how the Roman Empire began through the rise of tyrants like Julius Caesar and Augustus who used the laws of the republic to consolidate power around themselves. It covers various Roman civil wars, and delves into the politics of it all. It is quite a gripping read, especially as it charts the Roman citizens’ gradual acclimatization to and acceptance of tyranny during the end of the Roman Republic. Mary Beard is one the leading classicists of today, and her fresh look at this historical period is incredible.
There, There by Tommy Orange
Recommended by Noah Larson
This book is comedic, tragic, adventurous, and enlightening all in one! You’ll learn about the urban Native American experience, the AIM and the occupation of Alcatraz, and more. This novel has multiple narrators, so each chapter is uniquely interesting and it’s always exciting to see which character is going to tell the story next.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Recommended by John Richard
A thought provoking and sometimes eerily accurate read! Brave New World presents a seemingly utopian society, where every need is met and “everyone is happy”. However, as the story progresses, the reader is left to wonder if having everything come easily might just be a method of enslavement are if Huxley’s world is as perfect as it seems. Utopia or Dystopia? It all depends on your point of view.
The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell
Recommended by Andrew Houghton
If you like historical fiction, you’ll love this action-packed retelling of the King Arthur saga. Memorable characters, unfathomable plot twists, and a fascinating world will assure you get lost in the story in a matter of pages!