A Reading List of Great Books for Travis

Per your request, a list of books I really think you’ll like. Love you.

  • The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
    • Jack and Aliena are ridiculously cute
    • The history in it is fascinating, especially because it explores a time period that you don’t encounter a whole lot (the Anarchy)
    • Great fight/war scenes
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
    • Totally disgusting but also brilliant in how seductive it is
    • Most engrossing prose you’ll ever read
  • Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs
    • Jacobs is one of the few women who wrote a slave narrative
    • Highlights the systematic gender-based violence experienced by female slaves, something which was never really discussed in slave narratives written by men
    • Toni Morrison says slave narratives are the heart of the African American literary canon and this is a good book to start laying that foundation in your mind
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    • Fucking HILARIOUS
    • Heartbreaking, naturally
    • A truly fun read that also reminds you of how harsh life on a reservation is
  • The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
    • Ugh, my heart. Just thinking about it makes me want to cry.
    • Stratton had us read this not because it was related to the class, but because he thought everyone should at least once. He is right.
    • Shines a spotlight on people who’ve been cast out by their communities, others who are just kind of “there”, and those who have a place in society but still see themselves as outsiders.
    • It’s a sad book and I know you don’t like depressing books, but it’s too beautiful of a story to miss.
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
    • Has a very anti-science message and is also an allegory for Mary Shelley’s personal trauma (losing her mother)
    • Heavily influenced by Paradise Lost (ex: Victor’s “playing God” by trying to create life)
    • Picks up very quickly (the monster is animated by the third chapter if I recall correctly) so it doesn’t drag that much
    • Another sad book, but it’s SO cool
  • Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
    • You’ve started it, but you have to finish it so you can feel the triumph of getting through it
    • TAKE YOUR TIME. It took me 8 months.
    • The prose is too good to miss.
  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
    • Set in the Belgian Congo, which is shown to be just as bad if not worse than 1960s Vietnam
    • Kurtz is a character worth experiencing on the page as well as on screen
    • Extremely disturbing, but highly condemning of imperialism, which I love
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
    • Required reading. No hall passes.
  • Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
    • Watch the movie first, you’ll see how funny it is performed
    • Read it for the funny poetry
  • Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom
    • A memoir of conversations that Albom had with his former sociology professor, Morrie Schwartz, who was dying from ALS at the time.
    • Yes, it’s incredibly sappy. However, Morrie’s thoughts on human nature, love, and death are profound in their simplicity, allowing you to easily keep his ideas with you in your back pocket.
    • Morrie’s lessons are particularly relevant these days, and you’ll see why when you read it.
  • The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce
    • Literally just an inappropriate dictionary written by a shameless but hilarious asshole
    • It’s free on iBooks!
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
    • Just kidding lol this book is an actual piece of shit






Henry James – “The Portrait of a Lady”

“It has made me better loving you … it has made me wiser, and easier, and brighter. I used to want a great many things before, and to be angry that I did not have them. Theoretically, I was satisfied. I flattered myself that I had limited my wants. But I was subject to irritation; I used to have morbid sterile hateful fits of hunger, of desire. Now I really am satisfied, because I can’t think of anything better.”

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Happy birthday Travis, I love you!