Five books you should have read by now

Katherine Roth

By Katie Roth

Staff Reporter

College courses demand a lot of reading: textbooks, novels and articles, among other things assigned by professors. With all this to complete, it is hard to believe that anyone would have time to read for pleasure except during the summer months. But there are a few books that every college student should read by the time they graduate college.

I’ll begin with “Catcher in the Rye.” As the first book that comes to mind when thinking about high-school reading, this modern-day classic is about the coming of age of an adolescent boy. Writing in first person as Holden Caulfield, Salinger beautifully combines and balances humor, sadness and unbelievable tenderness to create the novel’s main character. This is one book that can be re-read often without getting old.

In 1922 F. Scott Fitzgerald announced to the world that he wanted to write “something new, something extraordinary, intricately patterned, beautiful and simple.” And as a result, Fitzgerald graced the world with his novel “The Great Gatsby,” which portrays the Jazz Age of America in all of its decadence and debauchery. Fitzgerald creates the self-made millionaire Jay Gatsby to embody America’s most steadfast fixations of the time period: money, ambition, gluttony and the promise of starting over. It is with Gatsby’s rise to glory and his eventual fall from grace that “The Great Gatsby” remains a literary classic.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” depicts racism, prejudice, childhood innocence and the perseverance of a man who risks everything to retain his values. Harper Lee does an excellent job of characterizing childhood in 1930s Alabama and how one trial can change a whole town’s mentality. However, it is beneath all this hatred that a story of love, innocence and growing up develops and charms readers. Scout, her brother Jem and their friend Dill learn a lesson about the hearts of humanity, and although there is darkness there, the reader can find light from Lee’s novel.

Quite possibly one of the most noteworthy additions to this list is the prestigious “Harry Potter” series. With seven books rounding out the set, J.K. Rowling’s successful series is now complete. As of April 2007, the first six books have sold more than 325 million copies and have been translated into more than 64 languages. The seventh and last book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” was released on July 21, and publishers announced that a record-breaking 12 million copies were ordered for the first print run in the United States alone. The boy wizard grows even more enchanting as he ages throughout his duration at thee Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Even skeptics have turned on to the phenomenon, and you should, too. If not just for the fun of hopping on the bandwagon, then at least for the beautifully palpable sense of teen angst that is brilliantly depicted.

Disregard the controversy surrounding James Frey’s novel, and focus on the literary genius that lies in the plot of the novel. Albeit a little graphic at times, the novel captures something extremely creative and interesting for the reader.