The Broadest Possible Book Recommendation List!

The Broadest Possible Book Recommendation List!

By Grace Billman, Layout Editor

Here it is:

  • Books you read as a kid!

As “adults,” we’re constantly recommended books to further our learning and personal growth and to expand our understanding of some hot button issue – which is great! Except when it’s exhausting. Sometimes, you don’t want your reading to feel like more work and so you just don’t read at all (myself included in that ambiguous “you”).

However, reading for pleasure should, fundamentally, be about joy! Reading for pleasure is exactly that: reading things that make you happy. So, here’s my advice: tap into your inner kid and pick up those books you haven’t touched in actual, literal years.

This summer, Disney+ announced that they were in the early stages of producing a live action Percy Jackson series and it occurred to me that I never actually finished the sequel series, Heroes of Olympus. I decided that there was no better time than right then to fix that but I couldn’t just read the sequels! Oh no, I had to reread all five PJO books and then I could read all five HOO books. I discovered that I enjoyed Percy’s quips and sarcasm just as much at 20 as I did at 10. I finished HOO (not as good as the originals but it had its moments) and I remembered what it felt like to fly through books like I did when I was a kid. I remembered how much I loved that liminal space where everyone else in your house is asleep because it’s two in the morning but you’ve only just closed the book; truly, the vibes on this are so different from you and your roommates staying up super late to do homework and only finishing at two in the morning.

There’s this idea that we can’t enjoy things from our youth – that we have to outgrow the things that we loved. There’s this idea that every second of our time must be productive and we must always, always be actively changing something about ourselves. But quite bluntly, who cares? We’re adults now and cringe is just a word. Sometimes we do outgrow the stories from our childhoods but we don’t have to. Harry Potter has had so much staying power because it’s not just for children today but because adults that grew up with the series haven’t forgotten the magic of the Wizarding World (do not pardon the pun, it’s abominable). Growth doesn’t always mean completely moving on from where you’ve been.

I’ve been thinking about “the dragon books” (actually called The Last Dragon Chronicles but I could never remember that) that I read in 4th grade and the Sisters Grimm series that I read in 5th grade and I want to know if they’re as good as I remember them being. Maybe they aren’t! But maybe, they absolutely are. There isn’t anything stopping me from rereading them but the thought of what other adults might think. But here’s the thing, we have to be responsible grown-ups about wearing masks and sanitizing and washing our hands and social distancing and all of the things that go with a pandemic so there is absolutely no need to be a grown up about the books that you read for fun. 

However, if you feel that reading kid’s books is a waste of time, just go deeper with it. Think about how J.K. Rowling’s deep biases shaped the way she wrote the Harry Potter series or about how Rick Riordan’s representation is present but surface level and sometimes problematic or about how Stephanie Meyer is exploiting the Quileute people or any number of other ways the authors of our childhoods shaped their worlds. Read kid books for fun or read them to see the subliminal messages or do both. 
Some final selling points for rereading books from your childhood: they’re typically quicker reads than books geared towards adults so they’ll fit easily into your busy, busy schedule. They’re books that you read so the subject matter should be something that you enjoy. If you and your parents never got rid of them, they’re either at home with you or just an USPS package away so no purchase necessary. Lastly and most importantly, the covers are probably way cooler than any adult book you’ve read recently.

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