It’s the time of year for the English department’s fall reading recommendations. The reading recommendations are what students and professors in the English department think are good books to read. Whether the books are based around the season, or a book that they think would be interesting or fun, it’s exciting to see what the professors suggest. Dr. Jennifer Pullen, a professor of creative writing, and Matthew Haase, a junior creative writing major, give their suggestions for books they think would be excellent reads for students.
The first book Pullen recommends is the “Lincoln in the Bardo” by George Saunders. The book won the Man Booker Prize in October; the Prize is a prestigious award that is given to the best novel written in the English language for the year.
“After you die, you can stay as a ghost, but are working towards the next part of your life’s journey,” said Pullen, when talking about the idea behind “Lincoln in the Bardo.”
The story follows the perspectives of the ghosts in the graveyard that Abraham Lincoln’s son was buried in, and where he would frequently visit after his son’s death. The book uses actual textual pieces from the time of Abraham Lincoln to give context to Lincoln grieving over the loss of his son and gives an idea of how the ghosts see him as he visits the graveyard. According to Pullen, “it’s this really interesting meditation on American history and mortality.”
Pullen’s next recommendation is a series of fantasy books by Patrick Rothfuss titled “The Kingkiller Chronicle,” and it is the first book in a series titled “The Name of the Wind.” The books are set in a university that teaches magic, but students have actually forgotten how to do it. “It’s a novel about learning and school, so it fits in with the start of the fall semester,” said Pullen.
Matthew Haase had some traditional recommendations for what students should read during fall. His first suggestion was the “Necronomicon” by H.P. Lovecraft, who created the genre of lovecraftian horror. “It’s less slasher horror and more like ‘Final Destination,’ where you’re afraid of death itself and not a killer or a monster,” said Haase about Lovecraft horror. If you’re looking for a book that fits the Halloween spirit, then H.P. Lovecraft is a good place to start.
The final recommendation is Amy Tan’s “The Joy Luck Club.” “‘The Joy Luck Club’ is almost like a message from her [Amy Tan] to her mother,” said Haase. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, “the novel tells the story of new waves of immigrants who are changing and enriching America.” Haase recommends this book, because he says it gives you a sense of American values and you are seeing it through the eyes of immigrants to the country.