“Let us read and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.” -Voltaire
Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon: Let me premise this by saying that this is my favorite book of all time, hands down. If I was stranded on a desert island, this is the book I’d take. It’s one of those books that’s hard to explain without either sounding ridiculous or giving too much away, but I’ll give it my best shot. Set in Spain in 1945, a young man finds a rare book and is entrusted with its care. He falls in love with the book, and seeks to find more books by the mysterious author. Oddly enough, book stores and manufactures are going up into flames. There appear to be no other copies of the book and any leads on more copies quickly vanish. Anyone with knowledge of the author or his work goes missing. The boy is offered a tremendous sum of money for the copy and is even threatened with his life when he refuses to give up the precious book, and hides it away. He then delves into the surreptitious life of the elusive author. The setting is romantic and intrigung and you delve into the author’s duplicitous history.
The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern: This is the book that should have been made into pop-culture phenomenon, and never got the acclaim it deserved. It is breathtaking, mesmerizing, and forbidden.
In the brazenly simple words of the author, “The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.”
What unravels from there, is an preposterous duel between two magicians (I swear it isn’t that corny), uncensored lovers, and a gamble to end the whole game.
This is one of those books that haunts your memory every now and again. I know, I know, the idea of a circus sounds cheesy, but its more like walking into an intoxicating wonderland and than a typical circus. Every time I read it, I am amazed by some detail I had missed before.
The Yoga of Max’s Discontent
by Karan Bajaj: If you have insatiable wanderlust like myself and have ever deeply pondered taking a spontaneous one way flight to a foreign place, then this book is for you. Max is the kid from the wrong side of the tracks that beat the odds and is now a Wall Street analyst. But it isn’t enough for him. He suddenly drops everything and embarks on a thrilling journey to India to contemplate human suffering. Indeed, Max finds so much more than that. He begins to unearth the true lifestyle of a yogi in an ashram while contemplating the idea of nirvana. Even if you aren’t interested in Eastern philosophy or think things like yoga and meditation are the laughable ideas of hippies, the story really does envelop you in a tale that you can relate to. Haven’t we all been lost weighing the questions that have plagued the world since its beginning? Haven’t we all wanted to take the journey to “find ourself”? This book does that for you.
by Bob Goff: This last one is the easy read. Love Does came recommended to me by an amazing sister and friend who has always gone out of her way to minister to me. It was at a time in my life where I had very little to cling to, and this book gave me a lot of perspective; I’m forever thankful for it. While I, still, am not practicing any religion, I think this book is an amazing for Christians and Non-Christians. It really motivates you and puts your life in perspective as Bob, the author, tells you about the uniquely uncomfortable life he has lived. I still haven’t found Jesus, but I have found a lot of happiness, inner peace, and confidence from this book. Its also a super easy read if you want something light and simple to read throughout your adventures.
If your summer adventures end up taking you to Paris, I HIGHLY recommend that you visit Shakespeare & Company
while you are there. It is an amazing little book store, with European titles translated into English. It was a wonderful way to spend an relaxing afternoon by the Siene and is only a short walk from Notre Dame.
(Their website also has great recommendations if these titles don’t strike your fancy).