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  • Writer's pictureJ J Hanna

J. J.'s Top Ten Must Reads for the Summer

In no particular order, I’ve compiled a list of books everyone should read at some point. However, with summer just beginning, most people will have more time now than at any other point in the year. So let’s get reading!

I Am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak

This book is one that will really make you think. In it, Ed Kennedy, a cab driver without much of a future, learns what it means to really see and interact with the world, in the process learning what it means to love someone in the way they need to be loved. He is sent on his missions by playing cards delivered to him via the mail, until there’s only one more mystery: Who’s sending the cards to Ed?

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

This series is entertaining and educational all at once. I attribute my knowledge of most mythology to Rick Riordan. If it wasn’t in his books, they at least made me interested enough to do more research on my own. In the series, young demigods struggle with fate and superpowers in the modern world. These books always have me laughing out loud by page 3 and are quick reads.

Sinner by Sharon Carter Rogers

What happens when you take a man who believes he’s the worst sinner in the world and let him live forever? This book takes you on a journey of pain and darkness, without losing hope. When a priest is attacked and hospitalized, reporters and police officers start asking questions. They’re able to track the attacker down, but they have no idea who the man is. After all, he’s had centuries of practice at hiding in plain sight. This book really calls into question the balance of good and evil, and if the ends justify the means.

Drift by Sharon Carter Rogers

Babydoll didn’t mean for things to go the way they did. When her father figure died, it had mostly been an accident. But with him gone, she had the opportunity to disband his criminal organization. But when his former body guard started poking around, she knew she had to get out. That’s when she meets Boy, a drifter. He’s neither angel nor demon, only visible to one person at a time, and as far as he knows, immortal. This book calls into question ideas of fate and emphasizes how one person can greatly effect the lives of everyone around them.

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

In this book Steinbeck presents many questions of morality, taking humanity to the depths of their brokenness and to the heights of goodness. It follows the stories of two families in the time of American Westward Expansion and the settlement of California’s Salinas Valley. One of the major questions presented in this book is “what makes someone human?” How far can a being go into darkness before they lose touch with what they used to be?

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

This book has been followed by controversy for the entirety of its existence, and was recently made into a tv show by Netflix. In this book, Hannah Baker kills herself. But, before she died, she recorded thirteen cassette tapes explaining why. After she’s gone, she has one of her classmates send them to the first person on her list. Each person on the list has wronged her in some way, contributing to her reasons for suicide. This book is on this list because it successfully puts the reader in Hannah’s circumstances. While a difficult book to read, it presents some of the reasons people kill themselves in an artistic way. This is another book that emphasizes how your actions can effect those around you.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

On a lighter note, this series allows talented children to save the world. Four children are given the opportunity, by a man who sees them not as incapable children but as valuable humans, to have family and friends and use their talents in ways they normally wouldn’t be able to. Mr. Benedict encourages these children into their uniqueness, proving how every human on the planet has value.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

This book is worth reading because it explains why it’s so important for people to remember the past and learn from it. It also emphasizes the reality that the price may be more expensive than the benefits. Sure, the characters live in an ideal community, but it’s colorless and loveless. Is that really living?

As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins

When I picked this book up off the shelf in the library, I never expected it. Descriptions of this book really don’t do it justice. However, the story is about a teenager who has to go to great lengths to end up where he wants to be. But he never gives up. That tenacity is something more people should have.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

Lastly on this list is this wonderful series by C. S. Lewis. In The Chronicles of Narnia, Lewis explores many different questions — identity, worth, what makes someone special, can you be forgiven, what happens when God doesn’t seem to be near? The use of fantasy allows him to explore these things in a different way.

These books are wonderfully written and present many things to think about in a creative way. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

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