Monday, May 20, 2024

A book for every month: 12 Spartan book recommendations for 2023

January 17, 2023
<p>Illustration by Aryanna Dorsey </p>

Illustration by Aryanna Dorsey

Looking for some good books to add to your 2023 reading list? MSU Spartans have you covered. Students and staff recommended a variety of books for reading outside of your comfort zone, self-improvement, learning, and contributing to a New Year’s goal.

Here are 12 books to keep you busy every month this year:

“The Ugly American” by Eugene Burdick

Recommended by history senior Anthony Barash, “The Ugly American” was first published in 1958 and highlights the arrogance of American politicians and leaders during the Cold War.

The novel focuses on U.S. action in Southeast Asia by using a fictional nation called Sarkhan. Its exploration of the failures of U.S. foreign policy implies that the Soviet Union had better strategies for building relationships with other nations. 

“The book changed my perspective on U.S. foreign relations and inspired me to work in a diplomatic, political field after my graduation in May,” Barash said.

“In the Time of the Butterflies” by Julia Alvarez

Inspired by a true story, “In the Time of the Butterflies” follows the story of the Mirabal sisters, who acted as revolutionaries and were part of an underground plan to overthrow the dictatorship of the Trujilo administration in the Dominican Republic.

“The book is a masterfully woven literary quilt crossing the barriers of time, space, and perspective,” arts and humanities senior Natalia Khoshnam said. “which cradles you while you laugh, cry, and feel like you are the fifth Mirabal sister.” 

“A Visit from the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan

A collection of short stories, “A Visit from the Goon Squad” illustrates the struggles of its narrator and reveals the secrets they hold as the story unfolds through intersections between perspectives.

“It plays around with form a lot and it’s wildly inventive and imaginative,” Residential College of Arts and Humanities associate professor David Sheridan said. “I think it’s really smart in terms of its exploration of American culture.”

“Everything I Know About Love” by Dolly Alderton

Alderton includes all of the highs and lows of her life in her memoir “Everything I Know About Love” and demonstrates that learning to love the rollercoaster of life is helpful when navigating emotional situations.

“It’s about growing old and learning stuff as you grow, so it’s good for us (MSU students) right now,” English sophomore Ella Ranalli said.

The novel demonstrates how the uncertainty of early adulthood leads to important life lessons. 

“Verity” by Colleen Hoover

Romance novel “Verity” follows a struggling writer, Lowen Ashleigh, who is finishing the work of bestselling author Verity Crawford. Tension emerges after Lowen discovers an unfinished autobiography filled with terrifying submissions, including Verity’s description of what really happened the day her daughter died.

“It’s just interesting and entertaining,” communication sciences and disorders sophomore Bailey Marino said. 

“I Am Pilgrim” by Terry Hayes

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“I Am Pilgrim” is a thrilling murder mystery that explores deception and interactions between multiple countries and cultures. The book expands upon multiple aspects of the protagonist, Pilgrim’s, identity as he investigates a series of gruesome murders.

“They talk about his past experiences, and they really go in-and-out doing different time frames,” computer science sophomore Jisha Goyal said.

The twists and turns of “I Am Pilgrim” create deep suspense and shocking discoveries as it unfolds its mystery. 

“The Midnight Library” by Matt Haag

The main character of “The Midnight Library”, Nora, is presented with many opportunities and a decision to make. Nora travels through the Midnight Library, skimming through the endless shelves of books that detail how her life would change with different decisions, and must decide if she would like to continue her life in a different reality.

“She gets to live out all her possible lives,” business freshman Enna Fretz said. “It makes you think about how you make choices. If you’re looking to read something new that’s not a typical romance or drama or mystery, I’d recommend that (‘The Midnight Library’).”

“The Mountain Is You” by Brianna Wiest

“The Mountain Is You” dives deep into why we self-sabotage, when it happens and how to stop it. It provides insight into complex emotional thought and offers an opportunity to improve and step into one’s full potential.

“It talks about when you put stuff off and basically how to overcome that,” nursing senior Josie Smith said. “You’re capable of so much more. We’re all beautiful people and have so much to offer, more to do, so let’s find healthy ways to be our best selves.”

“The Poet X” by Elizabeth Acevedo

Marketing junior Emilia Breuning said “The Poet X” is “a very authentic story and just a book you can reread because of how good it is.” Written in novel-in-verse, “The Poet X” follows a Dominican-American teenager, Xiomara, who struggles with her family, religion and her identity. Xiomara channels her thoughts and emotions into poetry and secretly joins her school’s slam poetry club.

“It covers the topics of love, family, sexism, and Latinx culture,” Breuning said. 

“Two Can Keep a Secret” by Karen McManus

Also recommended by Emilia Breuning, “Two Can Keep a Secret” is a young adult thriller centered around a young girl, Ellery, and her grandmother in a mysterious town named Echo Ridge. Several girls, including Ellery’s aunt, have gone missing in the past couple of decades, and Ellery begins to receive threats in school.

“The twists and turns were really well written, and I was very surprised by the ending,” Breuning said. “I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who likes 'A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder' by Holly Jackson."

“Out of My Mind” by Sharon M. Draper

“Out of My Mind” is narrated by its protagonist, Melody, who has cerebral palsy and refuses to let that define her. She has a photographic memory and is smarter than many of her classmates who dismiss her as disabled.

“She (Melody) has a very close relationship with her family,” arts and humanities freshman Olivia Gustin said. “That was really good to see.”

“Out of My Mind” also highlights a perspective that isn’t usually seen in entertainment. 

“Educated” by Tara Westover

Westover illustrates her determination to immerse herself in diversity after a childhood spent isolated from the world in her memoir, “Educated.” Born to survivalists, Westover had to teach herself class material to be admitted into Brigham Young University. She struggles to forge her own path as she is caught between ending a long-loyal relationship with her family and going into the world to achieve her dreams.

“It’s kind of unbelievable,” studio art freshman Genevieve Rogers said. “It's weird to think someone still lived like that so close to our generation.”


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