Alchemist - Paulo Coelho

You walk hand-and-hand with Santiago, a young shepherd boy from Southern Spain, as he travels the Mediterranean Sea, bargains the bazaars in Morocco, and metamorphosizes in the Sahara Desert while in pursuit of a treasure near the Great Pyramids of Giza. It is captivating and comprehensible enough to read within a sitting or two. Typically read during one’s youth, a revisit or discovery during adulthood helps prioritize life’s obligations and ambitions. Rested within the core of the book Coelho contends, "When you really want something to happen, the whole universe will conspire so that your wish comes true." -TC



The Line That Held Us - David Joy

Joy is a man who writes what he knows; stories about troubled people, set in the mountains of Western North Carolina. His love for the place and it’s people shines through his beautiful use of language and imagery, a contrast to the desperation and violence that is his subject matter. This is his fourth book (if you count a memoir about fishing that is neither desperate nor violent) and his finest. It asks how far you would go for the ones you love and what you would both gain and give up in the process. -WP



Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy

Recognized as one of America’s great novels, this book is not light work. McCarthy eschews standard grammar, uses obscure language, and writes about grotesque violence so ubiquitously that a tree hung with dead infants almost becomes banal. This is a treatise on the pervasiveness of war and man’s warlike nature and the debasement that can follow. -WP



The Things They Carried - Tim O’Brien

Perhaps most important for its infiltration into the mainstream, O’Brien’s most successful novel is required reading for most high schoolers in America and for good reason. The author spins a web of anecdotal tales, void of strategy or policy. The stories describe the experience of the warrior’s silence and chain smoking sometimes overshadowing the bombs and bullets.

“That's what fiction is for. It's for getting at the truth when the truth isn't sufficient for the truth.” -KD


Animal Farm - George Orwell

This allegory was Orwell’s direct attack against totalitarianism, written during the height of the Soviet Union. He creatively structures political regimes and attributes social personalities to ordinary farm animals. Propaganda and intellectual manipulation guide the pigs to establish a new authority once the humans have been driven out of the farm. Orwell writes in one of his essays the reason for the book was, “To fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole.” And he delivers. -TC



The Time Machine - H.G Wells

Ahead of its time (no pun intended) The Time Machine explores the evolution of man. The time traveller comes back from his three day exploration completely mystified. He explains that in the future man has bifurcated into two species: an above ground, emotionally driven, beautifully frail creature; and an underground, purpose driven, terrifyingly brute creature. Throughout the telling of his experience he hypothesizes the timeline and contributing factors that led to these forms of life. This book is carefully thought out and evokes a scientific curiosity that was previously dormant. -TC



Slaughterhouse-Five: A Novel - Kurt Vonnegut

This was the first book I read after I felt I had a final draft of my own writing, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Vonnegut wrote this fictitious exploration of time, memory, and war based off of his personal account of the bombings in Dresden. His style of writing is quick and initially appears scattered, but all for good reason. He links unseemingly related positive and negative memories on a non-linear timeline to show how he coped with the trauma. Due to his exposure he almost pokes fun of death by starring it in the eyes and stating, “And so it goes.” - TC

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