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  • Brian Boone 2:00 pm on 2017/08/07 Permalink
    Tags: alison lurie, casey lewis, , , dorm room essentials cookbook, , ethan trex, , , foreign affairs, free stuff guide for everyone, gina meyers, goodnight dorm room: all the advice I wish i got before going to college, harlan cohen, keith riegert, kingsley amix, knack dorm living, , , , on beauty, peter sander, , samuel kaplan, school daze, scott dikkers, , streeter seidell, the big u, the college humor guide to college, the idiot, the naked roommate, the pretty good jim's journal treasury, , , , wonder boys, zadie smith   

    These 20 Books Are Absolute Dorm Room Essentials 

    So you’re headed off to college in the fall. Congratulations! It’s going to be both a lot of work and a tremendous karmic shift! You’ll be on your own, and also living in a very small dormitory room with a person who is, in all likelihood, a complete stranger. Regardless, books are both an escape and an olive branch—the books you’ll need to best understand, appreciate, and enhance the college-going experience.

    The Pretty Good Jim’s Journal Treasury, by Scott Dikkers
    Everyone who went to college remembers it as an exciting time of self-discovery, new friendships, and working really, really hard. We tend to forget about all of the downtime and boredom of college—class is only a few hours a day, after all. This is where the droll comic strip collection by Scott Dikkers, a founder of The Onion, traffics—a guy named Jim does all the boring, mundane stuff one does in college. Much of Dikkers’ “Jim’s Journal” (which ran in lots of college newspapers in the ’90s) concerned the protagonist’s low-stakes experience with higher education.

    Lucky Jim, by Kingsley Amis
    Countless authors, past and present, have also been college professors and academics. And as the old adage goes, you write what you know. The result is the subgenre of the campus novel, which details the unique experience of being in college, either for a few years or forever, including its unique politics, quirks, challenges, and maddening hypocrisies. Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim, published in 1954, is among the first major campus novels, and it’s a rightful classic of the genre, detailing the wryly humorous life of an academic who becomes a lecturer at an English university despite not really wanting the job.

    The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
    There are certain things in Donna Tartt’s breakout novel that are universal college experiences: arguing with professors to allow you to take their classes, finding your tribe of like-minded individuals, and looking up to the most charismatic students on campus.

    White Noise, by Don DeLillo
    Don DeLillo’s classic novel is told through the eyes of a contented professor and patriarch of a large, blended, technology-addicted family who leads a small northeastern college’s Hitler Studies program. While the themes of the novel deal with the omnipresence of chemicals in our food, air, and bodies, DeLillo also nails the day-to-day of college life, as well as how it feels to live in a university town, particularly how it’s both charmingly unchanging and always exciting due to the constant influx and outflux of new students and teachers.

    Free Stuff Guide for Everyone, by Peter Sander
    Almost everyone in college is poor. Tuition, books, and living expenses cost a lot of money, and 18-year-olds don’t have much of that, because they lack earning power due to being 18, not-yet-college-educated, and having to spend the majority of their time going to class and studying. To make it through with your health and happiness intact, you’re going to have to get a little scrappy and a little shameless and seek out deals and bargains wherever you can. A book like this one will clue you in to all sorts of free and discounted necessary items.

    Goodnight Dorm Room: All the Advice I Wish I Got Before Going to College, by Samuel Kaplan and Keith Riegert
    Not a parody of Goodnight, Moon, likely because the book Goodnight, Moon is larger than the average dorm room. Rather, this is a swift and funny advice guide to everything “they” won’t tell you about going to college. And it’s important stuff, too, from how to exploit the goodwill of TAs who want you to succeed, to what stuff you should definitely and not definitely bring with you to fill out your tiny, tiny dorm room.

    Dorm Room Essentials Cookbook, by Gina Meyers
    Man or woman cannot survive on cafeteria food and ramen alone. Also, most college dorms don’t allow hotplates. But you’ve gotta eat, and eat well, so you’ve got to get creative. This cookbook shows you how to use the tools at hand and affordable ingredients to prepare all kinds of snacks, meals, and desserts.

    Knack Dorm Living: Get the Room—and the Experience—You Want at College, by Casey Lewis
    That dorm room is small, but this book just might be a good investment of both limited space and money. Written by Lewis when she was a seen-it-all-in-college, done-it-all-in-college college senior, it’s full of easy-to-follow and crucial tips on what to take to college, what to buy when you get there, and how to effectively and efficiently organize what little time, space, and money you’ve got.

    The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College, by Harlan Cohen
    Not only are dorm rooms small, but they have to be shared with another person, who could not only be a stranger, but also literally quite strange. (Hence the title.) Cohen’s book offers pre-emptive advice on all sorts of challenges a naive, inexperienced-to-the-ways-of-the-world college freshman may experience, such as the times when it’s okay to shoot for a C, how to find a campus job, and how to navigate both long-term relationships and more “temporary” ones.

    The College Humor Guide to College, by Ethan Trex and Streeter Seidell
    Nobody these days does college humor better than, uh, College Humor. The comedy website publishes all manner of silly videos and ridiculous articles about the absurd notion of being a young person alive in the world, feeling their way around with almost zero preparation. In many ways, this droll parody of college prep books feels a lot more realistic than the real ones do. This is a good one to have in college if only as a way to share it with others and knowingly laugh at the relatable parts.

    A guidebook about the city where the college is located
    For many, college is the first time to be out there on one’s own. It’s tempting and perfectly acceptable to just kick around campus and the surrounding neighborhoods—there’s certainly plenty for freshmen to do and explore. Or, you can mingle with the townies and check out a bit more of the area that surrounds the college. Getting out there and trying new things is what college is all about, but with a safety net, which is what a guidebook about that college town totally is. It’s a guidebook to fun and adventure!

    Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell
    College isn’t all partying and making new BFFs. At least not for everybody. This marvelous novel by the author of Eleanor & Park is about the difficult segue from teenhood to college life. It’s about a University of Nebraska freshman named Cath with social anxiety disorder, which precludes a social butterfly life and encourages her to stay at home writing fan fiction about a boy wizard…until she realizes that college is the best place to exercise and hone her writing skills.

    On Beauty, by Zadie Smith
    Having a Zadie Smith book on your dorm room’s sole shelf is a great conversation starter, and it’s a clue to others about how cool you are, because you’ve read Zadie Smith. The novel itself is an enlightening look at college—it touches on sexual, identity, and class issues, as well as how professors aren’t always the sage geniuses one would assume they are. It’s also a college-level text, as On Beauty was inspired by the structure and some of the plot points of E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End.

    Wonder Boys, by Michael Chabon
    It’s set in Pittsburgh, as is usually the case with Chabon’s novels, which is a beautiful and perfect college town. That’s just one of the blessings protagonist Grady Tripp takes for granted. He’s essentially a lost college freshman, but all grown up: He’s an established writer and college professor, he smokes too much marijuana, is having relationship trouble, he’s got writer’s block so bad he can’t finish his next book, and he’s just a little bit jealous of the young talent coming up behind him. Chabon’s prose is crackling, and he’s a great place to start in the world of “grown-up” fiction.

    Joe College, by Tom Perrotta
    Ah, the joys of working your way through college. In this dark and yet surprisingly optimistic book from the author of Election and The Leftovers, a Yale student named Danny doesn’t get to go on a debauched Spring Break trip with his friends: He’s stuck driving his dad’s lunch truck in New Jersey. That’s a plot device to get the reader into Danny’s head, where lots of college issues humorously and dramatically wrestle for attention.

    Foreign Affairs, by Alison Lurie
    Time for the semester abroad! Well, at least it is for the two American professors at the heart of this charming, Pulitzer Prize winning campus novel-meets-fish-out-water tale. Vinnie leaves his Ivy League environs to study playground rhymes and winds up in a family tree-tracing project. Fred, meanwhile, abandons his studies of English poetry to pal around with an esteemed actress.

    The Idiot, by Elif Batuman
    This almost stream-of-consciousness novel is told from the point-of-view of a Turkish-American freshman from New Jersey who is extremely happy to be away from her dull home life and attending the glorious Harvard University. This one shows how overwhelming college and all of its assorted social and academic entanglements can be. But, you know, in a good way.

    The Big U, by Neal Stephenson
    No matter how complicated and overwhelming college life gets, it could always be worse. This first novel from sci-fi icon Neal Stephenson demonstrates that. It’s about a Remote Sensing professor named Bud who works at American Megaversity, an eight-tower complex which pretty much makes the college a bubbled world unto itself. Hey, that’s like real college, only real college has way fewer electromagnetic weapons and radioactive rats.

    A second copy of what you’re currently reading
    Talk about an icebreaker. “Hey, what’s that you’re reading,” a roommate, hallmate, classmate, or random person in “the Quad” asks. You tell them, you show them, you lend them your copy because it’s so good. Boom, friends for life.

    A copy of your favorite book from childhood
    For when you’re homesick.

    What books should every college student read?

    The post These 20 Books Are Absolute Dorm Room Essentials appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Sona Charaipotra 8:00 pm on 2016/11/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , fannie flagg, , , , , , wally lamb, zadie smith   

    November’s Best New Fiction 

    It’s November, and some delicious dramas are headed for the fiction shelf, along with everygirl allegories and nostalgia trips from heavy hitters. Anne Rice returns with the twelfth tale in her long-running Interview With A Vampire series, and Jeffrey Archer wraps up his Clifton Chronicles series. Fredrik Backman, Wally Lamb and Michael Chabon revive the old man reflecting back on his life genre, while Zadie Smith and Alice Hoffman take on the modern woman. Danielle Steel serves up her sixth book this year, and if you’re in the mood for something sumptuous, add Daisy Goodwin’s latest, Victoria, to your TBR.

    Prince Lestat & The Realms of Atlantis, by Anne Rice
    Before the sparkling teen vampires of Twilight, there was the New Orleans swagger of the Vampire Lestat, the centerpiece of Anne Rice’s so very devourable series about bloodlust and, well, plain old lust, too. Here she presents the twelfth installment in her moody, atmospheric series, this time focusing the old soul as he’s possessed by some even more ancient magic, the Atalantaya, and explores the depths of the long lost city of Atlantis, reckoning with a power that may overcome even the millennia-old vagabond vamp we’ve come to know and love.

    The Whole Town’s Talking, by Fannie Flagg
    Flagg, the author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café (which spawned the Academy Award–nominated movie Fried Green Tomatoes), takes us back into small-town America, this time to the heart of Elmwood Springs, Missouri, where things are anything but dead. In fact, the dearly departed are very much a part of everyday life for the Nordstroms, most especially former mayor Lordor, his head-over-heels mail-order bride, and a clan of interconnected families stretching across generations, more than a century, and four wars. Quirky and quippy, with plenty of heart.

    This Was A Man, by Jeffrey Archer
    The seventh and final book in the Clifton Chronicles series brings the drama to a startling conclusion that starts with shots fired—by whom and why?—and ends with a twist that will leave fans wishing for more. Alliances are created, bent, and shattered, and of course there’s plenty of love and loss. The arrival of the stunning conclusion to Archer’s soapy saga is the perfect time to binge-read the whole series, if you haven’t started it yet.

    The Award, by Danielle Steel
    Shelf staple Steel’s latest—her sixth this year—follows young Gaëlle de Barbet into the thick of German-occupied France in the 1940s, as her best friend Rebekah and her family are carted off to horrific fates. Just a teen, she joins the French resistance, determined to do for others what she could not do for her friend. In the aftermath of war, the novel follows the protégé as she becomes a Dior model, mother, and museum curator, living to honor those who were lost even as she’s wrongfully marked a German collaborator.

    Victoria, by Daisy Goodwin
    A coming of age story about a queen. A thoughtful and thorough companion to Goodwin’s Masterpiece Theater collaboration with PBS, the novelized Victoria draws on the stellar storytelling Goodwin employed in recent bestsellers like The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter while also borrowing from the diaries of Queen Victoria, which the author began studying as a student at Cambridge University. Luxury, romance, politics, and plenty of drama—fans of Goodwin’s work will eat this one up.

    I’ll Take You There, by Wally Lamb
    Lamb, perhaps best known for his stunning She’s Come Undone, follows a 60something film critic who must reexamine his own history in this flash-backing This Is Your Life-style take on his history. It’s presented to him by two spirited (quite literally, they’re ghosts) Hollywood dames who show him scenes from his life in order to illuminate his future path. These windows onto his past reveal tensions with the women in his life, including his daughter, sister, and a pageant queen with a family connection.

    Swing Time, by Zadie Smith
    Smith’s hotly anticipated return, her first novel since 2013’s NW, is a jazzy, rhythmic rumination on dance and destiny, friendships and fate, following the connection between two mixed-race girls who connect in a class and become intertwined by the love that binds them as not-quite-sisters—bonds of understanding, connection, competition. The unnamed narrator and her best friend, Tracey, are mirrors and foils, and in their relationship find stunning grace and keen hurt. A deeply felt narrative that’s worth the wait.

    And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer, by Fredrik Backman
    From the New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove comes this novella full of hope and history, the story of one man’s life and precious memories, which will soon be lost as he loses his mind’s light. But as they fade, new moments become memories, ones he shares with his son and his grandson, who learn to let go even as they hold on tight to the stories he shares.

    Faithful, by Alice Hoffman
    Hoffman, author of The Marriage of OppositesThe Dovekeepersand other bestsellers, chronicles the story of Shelby Richmond, remarkable only in her ordinariness, until a tragedy strikes that splits her life forever into before and after. A survivor’s story, Faithful is a portrait of a modern young everygirl, one guided and guarded by something special. Grief, faith, healing, and the strength to keep going drive this novel, a sparkling take on an largely unextraordinary life.

    Moonglow, by Michael Chabon
    Pulitizer Prize winner Chabon follows up bestselling Telegraph Avenue with Moonglow, a deathbed confessional inspired by the author’s own grandfather’s tales. Here, he follows narrator Mike’s now-deceased Jewish grandparents through their travails in midcentury America, juxtaposing their love story and the drama of immigration with the details of a country at the edge of war and the technological revolution, creating a bright, vivid portrait rich with detail.

    The post November’s Best New Fiction appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jenny Kawecki 4:30 pm on 2015/06/12 Permalink
    Tags: , , lang leav, , , noelle stevenson, put it on the list, , , , zadie smith   

    7 Books That Should Be on Your Required Summer Reading List 

    Required summer reading: occasionally awesome, but more often than not, a stack of unexciting books that sits around gathering dust until the very last possible moment. Can’t we all agree it’s time to add some new ink to the list? If I had my way, you’d all have to read these this summer (and hand me a 500-word book report on the first day of school. I’m nice, not a pushover)

    American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
    Shadow is expecting to be released from prison and return home to his beautiful wife. Instead, he learns his wife has died in an accident, and he enters the employ of a strange man named Mr. Wednesday. Soon, he’s entrenched in a battle between the old and new deities of the world, dealing with some of the most powerful tricksters of all time. Not only is American Gods an excellent read, it’s also an educational foray into various ancient religions of the world—a book that’s sure to make you just as interested in the myths behind them as you will be in now reading every Neil Gaiman book ever.

    Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
    Cal’s family has a secret: a little trick of DNA that’s enough to turn Calliope, a nice Greek girl, into Cal, an American living in Germany who’s telling us his story. Over the course of three generations, he reveals how traits got passed down along his family tree, making him the man he is today—and not the girl his family originally thought he was. With loads of history and medical information to spare, Middlesex explores the world of personal transformation and self-discovery in a way that’s both fascinating and relevant.

    Love and Misadventure, by Lang Leav
    Because no summer reading list would be complete without a bit of poetry, right? Lang Leav’s Love and Misadventure is the perfect choice for a wide audience. The writing is simple and unassuming, an easy segue into poetry for the non-poetic, and the topic is universal: love. It’s an easy-to-follow narrative, tackling the ups and downs of infatuation and heartbreak and everything in between. Bonus: there are even a few illustrations.

    Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson
    Reverend John Ames knows he’s not going to see his son grow up, so he’s writing him letters. As he explores his own life and the lives of his father and grandfather before him, Ames records his musings on life and love and faith, often choosing to focus on how beautiful and strange the world is. Gilead fills the dark and brooding spot on your required reading list—something to remind us you can be perfectly confused and lost and still feel an extreme amount of joy and wonder.

    Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson
    Meet Nimona, the shape-shifting sidekick of Lord Ballister Blackheart, villain extraordinaire. Together, they aim to reveal the dubious nature of the kingdom’s most well-loved heroes, especially Blackheart’s friend-turned-nemesis, Sir Ambrose Goldenloin. Why read it? Because in between all the hilarity and color, there are some important thoughts on the nature of good and evil and what it really means to have morals. (Yes, villains can have rules, too.) Plus, okay, it’s just fun to read.

    On Beauty, by Zadie Smith
    Meet the Belseys, an interracial family living in a very white, collegiate town. With their marriage on the rocks and their children set on chasing after very different (somewhat problematic) lives, Howard and Kiki hardly know which issue to pursue first, especially now that Howard’s arch-rival has moved to town. Caught between two very different cultures, each of the Belseys has to decide which standard of beauty they’re going to live for—because what else is there? It’s an important look at how our perceptions of what’s ideal affect how we treat ourselves, and what’s it’s like to feel out of place in a homogenous world.

    Slouching Towards Bethlehem, by Joan Didion
    Rounding off your new required reading with a little bit of nonfiction, Joan Didion’s essay collection Slouching Towards Bethlehem explores the world of 1960s California, contrasting lifestyles that are at opposite ends of the political, financial, and social spectrum—and yet still, somehow, eerily similar. Understanding without judging, Didion shows you can disagree and still respect the common thread of humanity that runs through us all. It’s not only a fascinating look at recent history, but also a glimpse at the joy of well-honed writing, with nothing extra to get in the way of the facts.

    What books do you think everyone should read this summer?

     
  • Jeff Somers 3:00 pm on 2014/12/31 Permalink
    Tags: a long way down, amor towles, , George Eliot, , , , middlemarch, , rules of civility, , white teeth, zadie smith   

    Our Favorite Books Set on New Year’s Eve (and Day) 

    Amor Towles' The Rules of CivilityHumans are a funny lot; we invent a totally random way of keeping track of our existence, then assign special significance to certain days, and proceed to do things like go to war over disagreements on which days are especially significant. For most people, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are natural moments for contemplation and resolution—or nursing hangovers—which is why they are also great days to read books. When trying to decide what goals to set for yourself in the coming year, a good book can give you examples of what to do—or what not to do, depending on the book.

    Here then, are five books set on and around New Year’s eve that just might have something to teach you—but will definitely entertain you.

    Middlemarch, by George Eliot

    Only a small portion of this classic piece of literature takes place on New Year’s—but any excuse to pick up this amazing novel is a good excuse. The New Year’s Day portion is a great scene filled with Eliot’s typically sharp observations of her fellow human beings. The party thrown by the Vincys is superficially cheerful and jolly, but tensions roil just underneath the surface, as observed by the smart and good-hearted vicar Mr. Farebrother. This is a great scene to read in preparation for heading out to a New Year’s bash.

    White Teeth, by Zadie Smith

    Smith’s insanely creative book begins on New Year’s Day and explores, among many other finely woven themes, how chance affects our lives. When Archie Jones changes his mind about an attempted suicide and finds his way to the dregs of a New Year’s Eve party, where he meets his future wife, it’s just the first of many ways the book celebrates how our decisions conspire to surprise us—and the story circles around to a later New Year’s to underscore the point. Read this book before making your resolutions, to remind yourself that you never know what 2015 might throw at you.

    Rules of Civilty, by Amor Towles

    This under-appreciated first novel is a brilliant, energetic story set in a Manhattan that no longer exists. With a strong female character at its center, Rules of Civilty presents a mystery that starts at a New Year’s celebration between the end of 1937 and the beginning of 1938, but it’s really a celebration of the energy of New York and the thrill of suddenly seeing someone or something you haven’t seen in decades, bringing back a flood of memories. It also contains the world-beating line, “That’s the problem with being born in New York…you’ve got no New York to run away to.” Read this book if you’re feeling a bit settled and wonder if you could use an adventure in the New Year.

    Bridget Jones’s Diary, by Helen Fielding

    Let’s not dismiss this book—it’s a modern classic of its genre, and it’s easy to forget what a phenomenon it was back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It’s also a book that begins on New Year’s Day and dives enthusiastically into one of the great inner monologues of modern literature, as Bridget worries, records, and contemplates the proper method of making and keeping resolutions almost from the book’s very first moment. Read it if you’re worried about breaking your New Year’s resolutions—it will remind that ultimately it probably doesn’t matter, as long as you enjoy the debacle.

    A Long Way Down, by Nick Hornby

    Any book that opens with its four main characters accidentally choosing the same roof to jump from on New Year’s Eve is a book that really ought to be read every New Year’s Eve, possibly out loud as a new kind of holiday tradition. And since it’s a book by Nick Hornby, it’s also hilarious and satisfyingly plotted, as these people decide to postpone their suicide and the story unfolds unexpectedly from there. Read this any time you think your New Year’s experience is subpar; you’ll feel better.

    What’s your favorite book to read at the end (or start) of the year?

     
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