Reading For Pleasure - Opening

Brandon Persson, junior in architecture, enjoys a book and sketching outside of Parks Library on Monday.

Whether your favorite book is War and Peace or Harry Potter, reading for pleasure can sometimes be hard for students. If you can squeeze in some reading time between classes, here are some books from a few genres that one might not usually consider. 

Classics 

Picture of Dorian Gray 

You may recognize the name Dorian Gray from his cameo in the popular Netflix show “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”, but his character was based on the gothic and philosophical novel by Oscar Wilde.

"The Picture of Dorian Gray" was first published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine in the 1890s. According to the British Library the work was controversial and heavily edited, resulting in Wilde releasing the uncensored novel on his own. 

Dorian Gray, a wealthy and handsome man, captures the eye of an artist, Basil Hallward, who slowly becomes obsessed with Gray’s beauty and focuses his artwork on it. Through Hallward, Gray meets Lord Henry Wotton, who instills the mindset that beauty and sensation is the priority of life. Holding that notion close, Gray sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty.

Catcher in the Rye

Another book that caused controversy in the mid 1900’s was “Catcher in the Rye” due to sexual scenes and moral issues.  J.D. Salinger, the author, captures the essence of adolescence through themes of angst and alienation.

The main protagonist and narrator of the book, Holden Caulfield, becomes an icon of teenage rebellion and his struggle with transitioning into an adult is felt by teenage readers across the world. Throughout the book, there are several symbols of innocence as well as Caulfield's criticisms of society. 

"Catcher in the Rye" starts with Caulfield in a mental institution in Southern California. The style of the book is Caulfield addressing and walking the reader through a series of flashbacks before ending up at the mental institution — with a sarcastic and pessimistic attitude. 

Poetry

milk and honey 

milk and honey is a poetry and prose collection about survival. Rupi Kaur — who was born in India and moved to Canada as a child — writes about her experience with violence, abuse, love, loss and femininity through poems and illustrations. Kaur divides “milk and honey” into four chapters —with an intentional lowercase style — and different vibes. The book contains sensitive material that readers may want to take into account. 

“the hurting” focus on Kaur’s experience with sexual assault and family struggles. Kaur analyzes her experiences and compares them to her relationships, going into depth about her past traumas. 

The next chapter, “the loving”, takes a positive turn and Kaur speaks about her new relationship and focuses on self-love. Kaur takes this chapter and writes about what she looks for in a relationship as well as establishes her needs within it.

“the breaking” takes a downward tone with poems about the toxicity of her relationship. In this chapter, Kaur distinguishes the difference between wanting and needing a person, as well as truly loving versus being accustomed to someone.  

In the last chapter, “the healing,” Kaur writes about self love and fulfillment through her experience of past relationships and abuse.

Inferno

Taking a different turn from “milk and honey,” the first part of Dante Alighieri’s 14th-century epic A Divine Comedy, is the Inferno.

However, “Inferno” is not intended to be funny, but is labeled a comedy because everything turns out well for the protagonist. However, if you are familiar with Greek history, you may notice some of the characters Alighieri meets in Hell are prominent figures of the time that annoyed him in someway during his life.

During the 14th-century, the term “comedy” referred to works with a happy ending while a tragedy had the opposite. The epic — a long poem — is about Alighieri’s journey through Hell, guided by Virgil, who was an ancient Roman poet during the Augustan period. With the theme of divine justice, Alighieri explores the nine circles of Hell and encounters souls who have committed vile sins and are receiving the punishment of their crimes. 

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