The theme of our first book blog is “out of the norm.” Each one was challenging in their own way, but definitely worth the time. We included both fiction and nonfiction, and chose both new and old books too. At +Modern, we celebrate style, and uniqueness, and each of these books, were ones that promoted a strong sense of self.
By J.D. Salinger
(the same author of the literary classic, The Catcher in the Rye) is an intimate portrayal of a brother and sister’s relationship, and their struggle to support each other. Salinger revisited the fictional Glass family in several books and created a web of complications that feels much like a Wes Anderson movie.
The book features both a short story and a novella. We watch as Franny feels lost amongst disingenuous people, and craves authenticity. As a means of escape, she attempts to pray constantly, and refuses food. This concerns her mother, Bessie, who seeks to get Zooey involved. He too is unsure of himself to the point of near stagnation. Bessie challenges him, and says that her children were once sweet and loving, but have lost those qualities.
This book is most often read as a modern tale of Zen enlightenment. It’s a quick but challenging read. The characters are relatable, and real in a fascinating way. It’s the perfect read for anybody who is feeling just a touch off. It’s a book that’ll make you think.
By Chinua Achebe
is definitely another heavy hitter, but another essential read on our list. The novel illustrates Pre-colonial Nigeria, and as an audience we watch Colonialism begin to take effect.
Okonkwo, the main character, is an Ibo man who is praised for his strength and resolve. He is known as the strongest wrestler in his region. Over the course of the novel, Okonkwo’s status is slowly stripped away, and at one point he is banished from his village. When he returns, he sees that his village is changed by the new invading government and that he no longer belongs.
The novel tells the story of Okonkwo and his world in a sympathetic light. It was refreshing, surprising, and vivid. It’s a read for any history buff, but also anybody who wants to step outside of their own life for a while.
By Haruki Murakami
is a collection of short stories connected by a single idea: it looks at men who have found themselves alone. Murakami is praised for his amazing sense of realism, and works masterfully in this book.
This book comes packed full of profound quotes that’ll bounce around in your head for weeks after its conclusion for example, “There were two types of drinkers: those who drank to enhance their personalities, and those who sought to take something away.”
It’s an easy read, and it’s structure makes it the perfect book for anybody who is just diving back into the habit of reading. Place it on your bedside table, and read when you can! It’s worth it.
By Malcolm Gladwell
is a nonfiction book that looks at success. Gladwell looks at why the majority of all hockey players were born in the same month, Bill Gates’ success, and even the Beatles.
The book puts the idea of success into question, and studiously breaks down what it means to be “successful.” Gladwell repeats the idea of the 10,000 hour rule-- if you want to be successful or master a skill, you must spend 10,000 hours practicing that one activity.
This book is interesting, but a slower read. The analytical side of my brain loved the structure, and the new sense of understanding I got from his straightforward look at successfulness. It’s difficult to classify this book as a fun read, but nonetheless it’s interesting, and worth the time.
By Jedidiah Jenkins
is a new novel, that was only released in October, and it was one of the most inspiring books of the year. Jedidiah Jenkins writes about his 14,000 mile bike ride from Oregon to Patagonia, and takes time to explore himself. Jenkins is a notable instagram personality, who constantly presents a beautiful yet simplistic sense of self.
The book carries an intense sense of realness that comes from the author’s honesty, and his eloquent voice. He shares his journey in a candid manner. We’re presented with the good days, and the bad, and asked to understand them both. Page after page, you’ll find yourself captivated and interested. Beyond all that though, there’s a refreshing realness to the book that shakes the soul. This book should receive an extra prize because I read it in three days-- it’s just that gripping.