Byline: LeBRIE RICH 20Below News Team / The Register-Guard
THE BACK COVER of every paperback I've ever seen proclaims a "gripping tale" or a "powerful, stirring novel." In a world full of too many thumbs-up and four-star reviews, it can be hard to choose which books are worthy of your time.
If you're a teen-ager (or adult) who wants to read a good book this summer but doesn't know where to start, you've come to the right place.
We asked 20Below News Team members to submit a book or two that were most influential to them, so you can be assured that if you pick a book from this list, it won't be fluff. The books are listed in no particular order.
Reading books is fun, but as LeVar Burton Levardis Robert Martyn Burton Jr. (born February 16, 1957, in Landstuhl, West Germany), professionally known as LeVar Burton, is an actor, director and author who first came to prominence playing Kunta Kinte in the 1977 award winning television miniseries Roots says, you don't have to take my word for it.
The Fountainhead foun·tain·head
1. A spring that is the source or head of a stream.
2. A chief and copious source; an originator: "the intellectual fountainhead of the black conservatives"
By Ayn Rand Noun 1. Ayn Rand - United States writer (born in Russia) noted for her polemical novels and political conservativism (1905-1982)
"The Fountainhead" centers on the struggles of Howard Roark, an architect; and secondary characters Peter Keating, Gail Wynand Gail Wynand is a major character in Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead. He is a newspaper and real estate mogul who worked his way up from extreme poverty in Hell's Kitchen. The crown-jewel of his empire is The Banner, based in New York City. and Ellsworth Toohey.
It details the secondhand nature of society, glorifying the individual by telling a gut-wrenching story of achievement, failure and personal sacrifice for the sake of a vision.
The themes - the champion ego, selfishness as a way of life and selflessness as a means of failure - were beyond my grasp at the ripe age of 14. But I derived courage from the complex web of stories and lessons in "The Fountainhead."
The book pulled me from a dark place into the light of myself.
Leaves of Grass
By Walt Whitman
A compilation of poems by Whitman - whose poetry was revolutionary - defying all the lterary conventions of the time.
Despising the confining limits of old-style poetry, Whitman strove to create a form that could match the revolutionary United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. . He shocked the world with uneven lines and stanzas, and hardly any rhymes.
The Bell Jar
By Sylvia Plath Noun 1. Sylvia Plath - United States writer and poet (1932-1963)
Plath describes a woman's stay in a mental institution and her trip through a life of insanity. The book deals with depression and hatred and is nearly guaranteed to make you introspective in·tro·spect
intr.v. in·tro·spect·ed, in·tro·spect·ing, in·tro·spects
To engage in introspection.
[Latin intr and re-evaluate your life.
It an influence on me in that it helped me look at the world in a new way.
Deadeye Dick Deadeye Dick
sobriquet of 1880s cowboy-sharpshooter, Nat Love. [Am. Hist.: Flexner, 41]
See : Marksmanship
By Kurt Vonnegut Noun 1. Kurt Vonnegut - United States writer whose novels and short stories are a mixture of realism and satire and science fiction (born in 1922)
The story deals with a man who grew up in a dysfunctional family dysfunctional family Psychology A family with multiple 'internal'–eg sibling rivalries, parent-child– conflicts, domestic violence, mental illness, single parenthood, or 'external'–eg alcohol or drug abuse, extramarital affairs, gambling, with a psychotic father. You think he should turn out completely insane, but he finds his Shangri-la, and learns to live happily despite the gossip that goes around about him and his family.
The Great Gatsby
By F. Scott Fitzgerald Noun 1. F. Scott Fitzgerald - United States author whose novels characterized the Jazz Age in the United States (1896-1940)
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald
One of the most tragic love stories ever written. Jay Gatsby, the main character, is important to me. He was a man with a kind heart and people took advantage of him.
Gatsby serves as a reminder that love, no matter how true or how intense, can ultimately result in a great deal of pain.
The Three Musketeers
By Alexandre Dumas
While it's not a thought- provoking, rip-the-fabric-of-society kind of book, it's changed the way I perceive friendship, respect, honor and responsibility.
This is the sort of book that reminds you that life is hard, but it's also good, and worth the risks and adventure that are faced every day.
Besides that, it's a very entertaining read. If there were an accurate movie adaptation, it would be exhausting to watch.
This book is the reason I've been taking French for the past three years. It can only be better in its original language.
By reading the Bible, I've had a better understanding of the Lord as well as his will for my life.
Whenever I read the Bible, I am filled with an overwhelming appreciation for all that he has done for us. I am continually amazed by his unconditional love This article is about concept of unconditional love. For other uses, see Unconditional love (disambiguation).
Unconditional love is a concept that means showing love towards someone regardless of his or her actions or beliefs. and understanding.
The Power of One
By Bryce Courtenay Bryce Courtenay (born 14 August, 1933) is an Australian novelist born in Johannesburg, South Africa. He spent most of his early years in a small village in the Lebombo Mountains in South Africa's Limpopo province.
I picked this book up my freshman year and have read it once a year since. It is an uplifting story of finding who you are and then never allowing anyone to make you feel inferior.
It also sparked my desire to one day learn to box.
Hedda Gabler Hedda Gabler is both a play and a fictional character created by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. First published in 1890 and premiered the following year in Germany to negative reviews, the play Hedda Gabler
By Henrik Ibsen
While reading the part of Hedda in English class, a friend commented on how much I sounded as she would have. I agreed with him, but also hoped that I would never act like this selfish, manipulative character.
Simply, I hope never to treat others or live in such a way as was depicted in this story.
By Toni Morrison Noun 1. Toni Morrison - United States writer whose novels describe the lives of African-Americans (born in 1931)
Chloe Anthony Wofford, Morrison
"Sula" is the type of book I could read 20 times and get something different each time. It details layers of human inadequacies, families, frustrations, boundaries and friendship.
Following two childhood best friends, Sula and Nel, Morrison makes an effective statement about the judgments of society and what is perceived to be good and bad.
By Kurt Vonnegut
A description of the spiritual journey and psychological effects of World War II on optometrist optometrist /op·tom·e·trist/ (op-tom´e-trist) a specialist in optometry.
A medical professional who examines and tests the eyes for disease and treats visual disorders by prescribing corrective Billy Pilgrim For the character Billy Pilgrim, see .
Billy Pilgrim (also billy pilgrim) was an American folk rock duo based in Atlanta, Georgia, comprising Andrew Hyra and Kristian Bush. . Throughout the novel, a schizophrenic Billy flashes on his war experience, marriage and even his experience with Tralfamadorian aliens.
Although I've read many war novels, this one hits home. Vonnegut's use of random time segments gives a realistic glimpse of shell shock on the "children" of war.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
By Ken Kesey
A must read for anyone who opposes "the system." It follows one man's struggle as an inmate in an insane asylum (based on Kesey's work experience in the Salem mental hospital), and allows the reader a glimpse into the psyche.
The novel describes the triumph of the spirit and is truly affecting.
Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls
By Mary Pipher
Named for a Shakespearean character from "Hamlet," the book takes an eye-opening look at the female teen world.
Girls will be struck by Pipher's clear, compassionate language and intriguing stories. Her exploration of adolescent females illuminates core issues created by American culture.
Without casting blame or pointing fingers, "Reviving Ophelia" encourages young woman to build a stronger sense of self.
The Cat in the Hat
By Dr. Seuss
When analyzing a work such as "The Cat in the Hat," it's important to remember the book's ethical scruples, social morals and political symbolism. Hogwash hog·wash
1. Worthless, false, or ridiculous speech or writing; nonsense.
2. Garbage fed to hogs; swill.
Noun 1. ! It's arguably the most delightful children's book ever written.
Countless children around the world were hooked on reading about Cat's Thing One and Thing Two, long before Harry Potter swooped onto the shelves. Seuss is a master of words, weaving together rhyme, imagination and charming illustrations that every child (or child at heart) can appreciate.
Even the mischievous Cat would agree.
To Kill a Mockingbird mockingbird: see mimic thrush.
Any of several New World birds of a family (Mimidae) known for their mimicry of birdsong. The common, or northern, mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) can imitate the songs of 20 or more species within 10
By Harper Lee
It's a staple in English classes everywhere, a literary classic. Beyond rich descriptions, vivid characters and historical themes, Lee explores the common experience of childhood in a unique light.
Whether you relate to the feisty Scout, oddballish Dill, intellectual Atticus or mysterious Boo Radley, the book is a gripping tale that makes you wish that Harper Lee had written more than one book. Nevertheless, most people are glad she shared this masterpiece with the world.
A Separate Peace
By John Knowles
This is one of those books that goes beyond description. No reviewer could do it justice other than to say, "Read it."
It's a 1942 story of Gene and Finny fin·ny
adj. fin·ni·er, fin·ni·est
1. Having a fin or fins.
2. Resembling a fin; finlike.
3. Of, relating to, or full of fish. , two boys at the Devon School for Boys. If you're expecting a long, drawn-out sap-fest about two best friends during World War II, you'll be disappointed.
Instead, you'll read a human, psychologically thrilling story about jealousy, conscience and deception. Through engaging dialogue, Knowles ties in life lessons and morals through his characters' triumphs and tragedies.
LeBrie Rich, who compiled this story, is a graduate of Blue Mountain School. She can be reached by e-mail at 20Below@guardnet.com.