1. "Tiny Beautiful Things" - Cheryl Strayed
The author of "Wild" (yes, also the movie starring Reese Witherspoon) provides us with a raw look into human life: "Tiny Beautiful Things" is a selection of pieces from an advice column Strayed wrote for anonymously. The advice given isn’t riddled with cliches and temporary bandaids for the situation at hand. Strayed offers hauntingly honest personal stories and perspective as the columnist in response, offering empathy rather than a solution. And although she may have simply created a fictional narrator, some of the stories are just too piercing to be entirely conjured up. Get it here for $9.73.
2. "Modern Romance" - Aziz Ansari
From "Parks and Rec" to his stand-up to his new series "Master of None," Ansari is one of my favorite comedians out there. In "Modern Romance," Ansari explores the intricacies of relationships in the modern age. Our transition into college opened us up into the real world of dating, but our parents’ and older siblings’ advice may no longer work anymore. Guys aren’t supposed to call the day after in fear of seeming “needy” (I personally hate this), but when is it okay to text? A must-read for all of us exploring relationships in the age of smartphones and social media. Get it here for $13.02.
3. "Between the World and Me" - Ta-Nehisi Coates
In the state our society is in right now, I think every single person should read this particular book. "Between the World and Me" has been named one of the top 10 books of 2015 by various newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times Book Review. It has won the National Book Award for 2015, and rightfully so, as Coates writes to answer his son’s questions about race in our world today. He recounts his experiences as a man of color in America in their genuine rawness, making for an extremely powerful memoir. Get it for $17.12.
4. "Girl With Curious Hair" - David Foster Wallace
I’ll admit it - this one I haven’t read yet, but shoutout to my suitemate for highly recommending it to me and letting me borrow her copy. I have read other Wallace pieces, and I have never been anything less than thoroughly impressed and befuddled (yup, I just used that word) at the end of anything he’s written. I’ve come to realize that Wallace will never be on my reading level, but I am entirely willing to power through his work with a dictionary at hand because it’s always so rewarding. "Girl With Curious Hair" is a collection of his short stories, making for easier reads when you only have a short amount of time to dedicate to reading. Get this for $12.63.
5. "Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things" - Jenny Lawson
Maybe not an exactly a light read, but definitely a necessary one, Lawson provides honest insight into the mind of someone dealing with mental illness. The public views it as insanity, fragility, and instability, but honestly, not every day is that terrible. Lawson recalls her own experiences to fill the pages, ranging from the insane to the mundane, taking time to show the beauty in all that makes us who we are. Coming into college, we can never know who exactly the people we meet will turn out to be, but it certainly helps to be able to see it from their perspective, and "Furiously Happy" can shed light on a taboo subject matter. Get it for $13.
6. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
I will forever put this on my recommended book lists because I love this novel dearly, but have yet to finish it myself. It’s challenging, awe-inspiring, and at times hard to keep up with. Mitchell throws readers into a world of fantasy where time and space are incredibly flexible, because somehow by the end he entangles each character’s stories. (Thanks mom for not telling me, when I plopped down on the couch that the movie you were in the middle of was Cloud Atlas. *eye roll* Spoilers.) It’s an encompassing read, but it’s so worth it. Get it for $9.99.
7. Humans of New York: Stories - Brandon Stanton
Yes, reading the blog is also a good substitute. HONY has become a household name, and I’m almost positive I don’t have to explain to you what it’s all about. HONY posts remind us of what life really is -- what is to feel love and be loved, what it is to struggle, and what it is to succeed. Most of the people featured are special in their own very ways, and gaining such an intimate glimpse into their otherwise private lives tears at our heart strings, makes us cry, and inspires us. I promise you’ll be a changed person, even if only ever so slightly, after reading these humans’ stories. Get it for $19.
Lead image credit: Alice Hampson
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