161 Bird Box

birdboxby Josh Malerman, 2014

I’m not much of a horror genre reader, but I was intrigued when I heard so many people talking about Bird Box. Set in a world where mysterious creatures roam the earth, one must give up the sense of sight in order to stay sane. No one knows what the creatures are or what they look like, for every person who has set eyes on them has been driven mad, resulting in their violent end. We enter the story some four years after reports of gruesome attacks and ghastly suicides start flooding the news. The day has come when Malorie and her two children, known only as Boy and Girl, must leave their barricaded house and venture out into the world. It is a story as much about the breakdown of society and the lengths one would go to survive as it is about the suspense surrounding these horrific creatures.

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159 Behold the Dreamers

beholdthedreamersby Imbolo Mbue, 2016

Ah, the American Dream: The idea that anyone can come to this country and build their fortune based on merit and hard work alone. Sadly, that dream has proven to be little more than that – a dream – and Jende and Neni Jonga in Behold the Dreamers find this out the hard way. What starts out as a promising change from the poverty of their native Cameroon soon becomes a hell from which they must escape. It is a turn of events that is the fault of no one, but it is one that seems all too common for those hoping to come to America to start over.

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158 Love

loveby Toni Morrison, 2003

Leave it to Toni Morrison to completely turn the idea of the love story on its head. If you were to judge this book by its cover, you’d likely expect the pages to contain something akin to an urban romance. Inside, however, you’ll find that this is a meditation on love in all of its forms – romantic, parental, platonic, envious, destructive – and how it can completely tear a person apart.

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157 Thirteen Reasons Why

13reasonsby Jay Asher, 2007
narrated by Debra Wiseman and Joel Johnstone

I am both surprised and disappointed by Thirteen Reasons Why. I didn’t know much about the book coming into it, other than that it dealt with the suicide of a teenage girl, and the Netflix show, which I haven’t seen, has come under fire for inspiring an increase in teenage suicides. I’m not equipped to comment on whether the book idealizes suicide or makes it seem like suicide is nothing more than an overreaction to some unfortunate events. I’m fortunate to have not had to deal with depression or suicidal thoughts, but I believe those who question the book’s portrayal of this very serious topic. I am equipped, however, to comment on the book’s secondary topics, the ones that directly contributes to Hannah Baker’s suicide: sexual harassment, sexual assault, and female objectification.

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156 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

dragontattooby Stieg Larsson, 2005
narrated by Simon Vance

Years ago when it first became popular, I tried to read the first book in the Millennium Trilogy. I ambitiously attempted to read it in Spanish, figuring that if I were going to read a translated work, I might as well sharpen my Spanish skills while I was at it. It wasn’t long before I gave up, and I assumed that my Spanish simply wasn’t up to snuff. Then I borrowed it from the library in English and, well, quickly gave up, too. I was bored. Not only did I not understand the financial stuff, I didn’t care. It was only when I was searching for my next audiobook to accompany me on my commute, and found every book I wanted to read had a waitlist, that I decided to give this another shot. Surprisingly, I’m glad I did.

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155 John Adams

johnadamsby David McCullough, 2001

In this second presidential biography, David McCullough provides a sweeping narrative of John Adams’s life. History seems to have largely forgotten Adams – there are no monuments to his name, his birthday is not a national holiday, his face does not appear on any form of currency. McCullough’s biography attempts to correct that mistake, giving modern readers a thorough account not just of his presidency, but all that he accomplished in the years leading up to it. If, at times, I felt a bit fatigued by the extent of McCullough’s detail, this was made up for by the fact that his life contained as much drama as, well, an HBO miniseries.

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