Squeeze in some summer reads before you pick up your textbooks

By Alicia Kocs, Staff Writer

There are just a few weeks of summer left. If you are like me, you simply cannot wait for the school year to begin. Others, I am sure, are less than thrilled. Whether school brings you excitement or pain, reading is a great way to spend the last month of summer freedom (or boredom) before the schedule is full again. Here is a list of a few hot titles for your last few weeks.

1. The Shack by William Paul Young: This unlikely success is still the top-selling book on Amazon.com. The Shack is a fictional account of Mackenzie (referred to throughout the book as Mack) Philips, who is mailed a surprise invitation from God to spend the weekend at the shack where his daughter was recently murdered. Much of the book is dedicated to his questions and conversations with God. The answers he receives make for a chilling mystery and a fresh perspective on God, separate from religion.

2. Push by Sapphire was adapted into a 2009 Sundance film, and is scheduled to be release in most theaters later this year with the title “Precious.” This book struggles through issues of race, sexual orientation, abuse, class, abortion, education, gender struggles and other hot-button issues, all in less than 200 pages. It is the fictional autobiography of Precious, a 16-year-old girl who is still in junior high. She gave birth at 14 and has another baby on the way. As Precious learns to read better, the writing in the book improves. She writes of her plight for hope and redemption as she escapes her abusive parents in pursuit of a proper education and a future for herself and her children. Push is an empowering and relentless book that is accepting of and honest about many social issues.

3. Wicked by Gregory Maguire: Now one of Broadway’s most popular musicals, Wicked is a fictional tale that follows the life, story and events leading up to and through The Wizard of Oz. It is told from the perspective of Elphaba, the misunderstood and mistreated girl who becomes the Wicked Witch of the West. This creative novel integrates stories of the other characters from the famous story and works in some of its own. Maguire includes many of the details from Dorothy’s original tale. He adds a twist in explaining what really happened and why, while incorporating many unique and deep philosophical ideas that stem from the misfortune of Elphaba and the society of Oz.

4. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby: Originally a French book, it is an autobiography of Bauby through the hands of his nurse. The author suffered a massive stroke that left him with “locked-in syndrome.” For an entire year before his death and the release of his biography the following day, he communicated solely by the blinking of his left eye, the only body function of which he had any control. His experience gives insight to the frustration and struggles of many who suffer from the syndrome and offers hope and insight to families that cannot communicate to loved ones that suffer from it.

Although it’s an eclectic list, all of these books are must-reads and have great insight into the struggles of everyday life. All offer hope, which is great to have in mind as the semester starts.

a.kocs@chronicle.utah.edu