"I cannot live without books." -- Thomas Jefferson

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Five Books You Meet After High School

I mean, ideally these are the five books I'd have liked to meet after high school. A lovely pair of local parents came to the store yesterday seeking gift basket books for an auction, and these six made the choosy cut as "appropriate for a high school- to adult-age" reader - according to me, anyway. Now, into the basket with these! - all of which you, yes you, can get for yourself in the store.

Geek Love - Okay, so this Katherine Dunn novel is actually sitting on my desk at the moment. But if I'd known at 17 that there was a National Book Award finalist out there in the world exploring all the weird ess-aych-eye-tee parents can put their kids through out of what they might think is love (self-love or otherwise), I'd have scooped it up immediately.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay - This (along with Slaughter-House Five and Edna Ferber's So Big) defined the summer after I graduated from high school. It also made me feel as hip as a New Yorker subscription, but let's not reduce Kav and Clay to street cred. Michael Chabon creates so thorough a world for his characters and so dense a timeline for art and comics and World War II that heart and history are inseparable. Huzzah!

White Teeth - This frantic little post-colonial exercise in near-allegorically contrived plot almost didn't make the cut, but holy moses does Zadie Smith run a tight narrative ship. I wouldn't have understood this with a high school education (sorry, Virginia public schools) but I'd have liked it anyway and learned why later.

How to Be Alone - Hoorah for Jonathan Franzen!, read The Corrections and Freedom though I have not. Also, on the inside I am very old. These calm collected (pun!) essays found their way to me later in college, but made me coolly reconsider a lot of things I take for granted - age, health, birdsong, and of course, the importance of a solitude that bars out even Facebook - something I wish I hadn't met after high school.

Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi stole my heart at 16. Her comics-turned-memoir, originally released in serial French paperbacks, were then translated, offered in two gorgeous hardcovers, then combined into what we have at the store: a single-volume paperback filled with her story of growing up in Iran, then being filially transplanted out for much of the Revolution and returning as an adult. I read this again before giving it to my little sister as a gift, then again to write a paper on the themes of Persian art and how comics' duality serves memoir. Any book that compels me to write a paper is a-okay.

Brief Interviews With Hideous Men - David Foster Wallace. Wide-ranging stories. That is all.

Happy Saturday!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I totally agree about Marjane's book - what a fantastic graphic novel, one of my all time favorites.