Happy National Read-a-Book Day!
Let’s Party! On this fine Sunday, we hope you all have the time to put your feet up for an hour or two and enjoy a good book. Luckily, we’ve given you several recommendations if you don’t know where to start. Whether you’re an indoorsy, outdoorsy, a homebody or a lifelong nomad, these books will serve your needs regardless of what you do. Get the interactive version here
Constantin Stanislavsky – An Actor Prepares – The father of “method acting” goes into detail about the challenges of getting into character, and this short book serves as a wonderful primer for anybody trying to really embody the people they are portraying.
Edward Albee – The American Dream and Zoo Story – Albee’s short play about two people on a bench is the perfect play to spend an afternoon performing with a friend. Incisive and quick-witted, you can read the play in only an hour and learn it fairly quickly, too.
Tennessee Williams – Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – A beautiful play about a brittle couple trying to come to terms with personal issues as Brick’s father, a cotton plantation owner, deals with his impending death. Great for those who like amazing individual performances.
Antoine de St.Exupery – Wind, Sand and Stars (Harvest Book) – A beautiful nonfiction book about the children’s author’s pioneering adventures in the clouds, mountains and above the oceans.
Denis Johnson – Train Dreams: A Novella – Johnson takes us into the old Frontier west with his novella about a young orphan who travels to Idaho in the late 19th century.
Cheryl Strayed – Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail – Reese Witherspoon’s great performance aside, Wild is an even richer book, as Strayed takes us on a journey through her external and internal world as she trods the Pacific Coast Trail.
Robert Munsch – Love You Forever – A small book that resonates with both the parents and the child, Love you Forever tells us to love no matter what kind of trouble you get into as you grow old.
BJ Novak – The Book with No Pictures – As the title suggests, there are no images in the book. But Novak, who wrote for and appeared on the hit TV show the Office, shows children just how fun wordplay can be.
Roald Dahl – Fantastic Mr. Fox – The Wes Anderson movie began as a classic piece from Dahl’s repertoire. About a family of foxes at war with industrial farmers, the books teaches the value of family and cleverness in the face of danger.
Julian Barnes – The Sense of an Ending – The winner of the Man Booker Prize, this book looks back at the ups and downs an ordinary life, and the things that got in that way.
Marilynne Robinson – Housekeeping: A Novel – Robinson’s first major novel looked at three generations of women as they each try and maintain their home in the face of loss.
Francoise Sagan – Bonjour Tristesse: A Novel – Young love is a tough topic to write about, but Sagan did so at an age when it mattered most. Set in the quiet French country, the novel follows a tense love triangle as young vacationers try and cure their boredom.
George Orwell – Down and Out in Paris and London – Before Orwell wrote Animal Farm and 1984, he dazzled audiences with his short and wonderful memoir about working in the kitchens of Paris and the piers of Wigan. The best part of this short book is the detail–it feels as though we are right there in the kitchen with him.
Ernest Hemingway – A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition – The classic memoir about Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and all the others is an unforgettable foray into a city during it artistic prime.
Stephen Chbosky – The Perks of Being a Wallflower – One of the great coming-of-age novels, Chbosky looks at high school life from the perspective of a “wallflower”, a quiet introvert who excels creativity but must deal with past traumas and countless social challenges.
John Knowles – A Separate Peace – Set at a solitary prep school in New England during the 1940’s, the story revolves around Gene and Finny, who learn the realities of anger, deceit and ultimately forgiveness as the Second World War rages on overseas.
Rainer Maria Rilke – Letters to a Young Poet – When a young army cadet sent a letter to Rilke, he didn’t expect such a moving reply. Letters to a Young Poet asks deeper questions about the role of poetry in our lives, and how it is less about the words themselves and more about spiritual exploration.
Maria Konnikova – Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes – How does he do it? Sherlock, who solves mysteries using the special technique of induction, uses a very methodical approach that Konnikova claims you can learn. A fun read for both young and old learners.
Paula Hawkins – The Girl on the Train – The international book sensation weaves infidelity and murder in a plot revolving around a classic trope–the unreliable narrator. A great novel to pick up and not put down.
Edwin Abbott Abott – Flatland – What if the world was literally two-dimensional? Abbott asks that very question in Flatland, which combines a keen sense of Victorian wit with a touch of science.
Marina Keegan – The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories – Before Keegan died unexpectedly in 2012, she wrote a series of wonderful essays and short stories. Great for a quiet, reflective evening.
Flannery O’Connor – A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories – O’Connor’s classic short story collection taps into a quintessentially American nerve. Known for their shock endings, her stories are each complex forays into family and small-town life.
Norman MacLean – A River Runs Through It and Other Stories – Maclean’s semi-autobiographical account of growing up in Montana’s craggy mountains can arguably belong in the same category as Ernest Hemingway’s meditative short stories, but as the vivid descriptions of the title story suggest (Later adapted into a movie starring Brad Pitt), the natural world around you can do a lot to answer some of life’s most difficult questions.
Stephen King – On Writing – Like him or not, King’s advice on writing is direct and to the point. Addressing everything from set construction to character development, he takes a refreshing “bare-bones” approach to the craft, and is perfect for aspiring novelists of all kinds.
Ta-Nehisi Coates – Between the World and Me – Coates’ memoir/letter to his son takes a very hard look at what it means to grow up as a person of color in America, and how his son will need to cope with the growing militarization of the Police.
Todd Klick – Something Startling Happens: The 120 Story Beats Every Writer Needs to Know – What do most movies have in common? A lot, according to Klick, who outlines 120 story “beats” and provides us with a clear roadmap for writing our first novel or screenplay.