By Alex Doria
When you grow up loving books, your friends quickly catch on that you are the go-to person for book recommendations. Despite our reputations for being book snobs (and we definitely can be, let’s be honest), we English Majors actually love to read all kinds of books; not just the fancy, impressive volumes of prose that we read in the classroom, but the page-turning, plot driven kind to give your mind a vacay.
Sometimes you need a rom-com for the pool and sometimes you need a hefty novel, with literary criticism to boot. To give you the best of both worlds, I’ve compiled some of my favorite challenging reads and relaxing beach reads, but the question is this: which list will you choose from?
1. Wuthering Heights (1847) by Charlotte Brontë: Controversial and a classic, what’s not to like? Lots of woe, lots of forbidden love (incest?), and a hella lot of madness.
2. The Virgin Suicides (1993) by Jeffrey Eugenides: It’s what it sounds like; it’s about girls killing themselves. BUT WHY???????? (Sexism and misogyny, duh).
3. The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) By Oscar Wilde: This is probably the only book you will encounter that features a man who is eternally young and beautiful but isn’t a vampire. Unsurprisingly, he’s a bit of an ass.
4. No Exit (1944) by Jean-Paul Sartre: Nothing like contemplating your identity when you literally can’t sink any further, because this one act play takes place in Hell. #Existentialism
5. Pride and Prejudice (1813) By Jane Austen: This happens to be my favorite book of all time, NBD. Romance, witty dialogue, social commentary, and gender politics are kinda my Achilles heel(s).
And For the Truly Bold…
Lolita (1955) by Vladimir Nabokov: One word: Pedophilia. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
1. Me Before You (2012) by Jojo Moyes: Yeah, I cried by myself at the pool while reading this. No shame.
2. Outlander (1991) by Diana Gabaldon: It’s got time travel, Scotland, history, romance, and is, at points, cheesily smutty. Gotta love a man in a kilt.
3. The Princess Bride (1973) by William Goldman: I didn’t know it was a book until I stumbled upon it at Barnes and Noble. Inconceivable!
4. The Paris Wife (2012) by Paula McLain: Paris in the 1920s + young love + the gloriously suffering artists of the left bank = quite a hot mess. But it’s oh so pretty. Especially since Ernest Hemingway was such a looker in his prime.
5. Yes Please (2015) by Amy Poehler: Thought I would throw in a little non-fiction to really spice things up! I love laughter that has a point, and Amy always makes hers. No slap-stick comedy here, just embarrassing life stories and philosophies that prove that Amy Poehler is the beautiful land mermaid we believe her to be.