These aren’t books that you should have read in junior high, such as Harry Potter, Eragon, or The Hobbit. This also won’t include the books that you should have read in high school, like To Kill a Mockingbird, Grapes of Wrath, or Man’s Search for Meaning. These are the books that should be read as a young person, still aspiring to gain as much knowledge as possible in order to shape themselves before stepping out into what
will be the rest of their lives.
The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho: The first question asked when encouraging someone to read a book is often times ‘what’s it about?’ With this book that answer is sort of complex, as it’s hard to capture in words what this book makes you feel. A short novel, Coehlo takes an incredibly simple premise and writing style and makes an immaculate journey that is this book. You will not put it down. I personally tore through the pages and read the entirety of it within 24 hours of starting it, and then shortly a few weeks later read it again. ‘What’s it about?’ Well, a boy on a personal journey to egpyt, but sincerely that doesn’t do the story justice.
The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander : Do yourself a favor and read this book. The New Jim Crow is arguably the most important book of the decade. Spanning the entire history of America, this book shows an amazing fact based argument of how through the centuries we have held down the racial minorities in this country. In a damning and horrifying way she argues that Ronald Reagan in the 1980’s needed to settle the ruling class after the civil rights debacles in the 60’s and 70’s. Through his, and the succeeding presidents Bush, Clinton and Bush’s, War on Drugs our prison population exploded from 200,000 to over 2,000,000. She further argues that while these rates have crippled society as a whole and corrupted our prison system, it has systematically crippled Black males the most. I genuinely don’t do this book justice in my review – I don’t possess the vocabulary nor writing skills to give you, the reader, the full scope of this book. This is a book that needs to be read by all who wish to understand America’s history and the race riots
we still see today.
Meatenomics, by David Robinson Simon (The Omnivores Dilemma ,by David Robinson Simon, Mad Cowboy, by Howard Lyman): This book is simply written and rather short making it an easy read. That said, Meatenomics compiles the most amount of facts in that short span that can be made possible. Meatenomics is hard hitting and incredibly illuminating, and if you eat meat but think of yourself as healthy or an environmentalist – think again. You owe it to yourself and to the world to read this book, no longer should people live in the shadows of ignorance about the things we eat and what we put into our bodies. (The Omnivores Dilemma and Mad Cowboy also get special mentions because all three books really would make for a similar experience, just in different approaches by the authors).
Don’t Know Much About History? by Kenneth C. Davis: I’m going to keep this short and simple – this is every little history fun fact you could ever stumble upon, and wish you always knew. This book will set you up for those ‘Gotcha!’ moments when debating things like former presidents, politics, or world affairs.
Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad: There are entire collegiate level History and Literature classes solely devoted to this book, regardless to say it holds great importance. This book is something every college student should aim to read before graduation, as it will set you up for excellent conversation pieces at the adult dinner table. The writing is heavy in symbolism, as Conrad writes about his journey into the Congo in 1899. Conrad recounts the crazy psyches, horrors, racism and greed that he comes across during his journey. Leading to amazing pieces of work devoted to it, such as Apocalypse Now, this book is something every well-read person should have in there literary itinerary.
Undaunted Courage, by Stephen E. Ambrose: It often times is astounding to me how little American’s know about their own country’s history, comparatively to the rest of the world (that said, I’m a history major and generally speaking just a complete snob about it). Stephen Ambrose, author of D-Day and Band of Brothers, has a phenomenal gift for story telling – and doing so in an extremely accurate and detailed manner. This novel focuses on the adventure undertook by Meriwether Louis and William Clark as they travel across the newly purchased expanse of land to the west, known as the Louisiana Territory. Phenomenally written, Ambrose does an immense amount of research before writing this detailed novel such as completing the modern day backpacking trail himself, visiting national libraries, and consulting with professionals on the topic. He has a gift for placing you in the setting, and in this book he absolutely takes you on the journey with him back in time during the Louis and Clark expedition.
So You Want to Start a Brewery? by Tony Magee: As young people this book should naturally be attractive to us, it’s premise is the beginnings of a young entrepreneur, his business, and Lagunitas beer. In an immensely witty and entertaining way, Tony Magee takes you on the adventure of starting the brand Lagunitas. An incredibly simple and short read, this book was pure pleasure, discussing things like risk taking, ideologies, how businesses change as they grow, and his infatuation with beer.