Maryville loves to read! We asked Maryville students what books they kick back with when they’re not holding a textbook. Here are 15 must-read book recommendations from around campus.
1) A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Cliffnotes summary: The year is late 1775, and Jarvis Lorry travels from London to Paris on a secret mission for his employer, Tellson’s Bank. Joining him on his journey is Lucie Manette, a 17-year-old woman who is stunned to learn that her father, Doctor Alexandre Manette, is alive and has recently been released after having been secretly imprisoned in Paris for 18 years.
“The fact that it was historically accurate and had a good plot line.” -Rosie Calderon
2) Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Sparknotes summary: Nick Carraway, a young man from Minnesota, moves to New York in the summer of 1922 to learn about the bond business. Nick’s next-door neighbor in West Egg is a mysterious man named Jay Gatsby, who lives in a gigantic Gothic mansion and throws extravagant parties every Saturday night.
“I just like the historical context of it and there were different characters.” -Jessica Tremper
3) Second Fiddle by Rosanne Parry
Publisher’s review (http://rosanneparry.com/second-fiddle/): Set in 1990, just after the Berlin Wall has fallen, Parry’s insightful coming-of-age novel follows the tumultuous journey of three eighth-grade friends who live on an army base in Berlin. Jody, a violinist and classical composer, is dreading leaving her two best friends when her father retires from the army, and she will again be forced to uproot her life to move to Texas.
“I play the violin and she’s a violin player.” -Jessica Tremper
4) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Sparknotes summary: Seventeen-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster reluctantly attends a cancer patients’ support group at her mother’s behest. In one of the meetings she catches the eye of a teenage boy, and through the course of the meeting she learns the boy’s name is Augustus Waters.
“I saw the movie first and thought it was great.” -Abby Kroener
5) The City of Bone Series by Cassandra Clare
Shmoop summary: Fifteen-year-old Clary Fray is partying hard at the Pandemonium Club with her best friend, Simon. There, she sees a crowd of strangely behaving, but incredibly attractive teens sneak into a storeroom. She follows them, and discovers that they’re demon hunters when they kill a demon in front of her, which dissolves into the floor.
“It’s not your traditional book… like Percy Jackson.” -Kenzie Wideman
6) The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
Goodreads summary: An impulsive one-night stand turns into a nightmare far beyond Mia’s control. But why does her abductor seem so uncertain about his plans for her? Why did he choose to hide her in a remote Minnesota cabin rather than turn her over to the man who hired him? Was it an act of mercy, or something else entirely?
“It was super good. It’s kind of like Gone Girl, It switches things up.“ -Kayla Kowal
7) Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Sparknotes summary: It is the spring of 1861. Scarlett O’Hara, a pretty Southern belle, lives on Tara, a large plantation in Georgia. She concerns herself only with her numerous suitors and her desire to marry Ashley Wilkes. One day she hears that Ashley is engaged to Melanie Hamilton, his frail, plain cousin from Atlanta. At a barbecue at the Wilkes plantation the next day, Scarlett confesses her feelings to Ashley. He tells her that he does love her but that he is marrying Melanie because she is similar to him, whereas he and Scarlett are very different. Scarlett slaps Ashley and he leaves the room. Suddenly Scarlett realizes that she is not alone. Rhett Butler, a scandalous but dashing adventurer, has been watching the whole scene, and he compliments Scarlett on being unladylike. Charles Hamilton, Melanie’s timid, dull brother, proposes to Scarlett. She spitefully agrees to marry him, hoping to hurt Ashley.
“A friend told me it would be a good one to read.” -Kayla Jansen
8) Just Listen by Sarah Dessen and The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Soulja
Shmoop summary: When Just Listen opens up, we are told that our narrator—teenage model Annabel Greene—isn’t looking forward to her junior year of high school. That’s because she’s had a falling out with her best friend Sophie, a total mean girl who’s popular and has a hot boyfriend.As time progresses, Annabel becomes less isolated when she starts talking to Owen, who is truly obsessed with music and has a show at the local radio station. She begins to listen, and with his encouragement, starts arguing with him about his musical taste over lunch, even though she’s usually terrified of telling people what she thinks.
Enotes summary: At the age of sixteen, Winter is well-accustomed to a life of decadence provided by her notorious father who commands an intricate family web of drug dealers in their Brooklyn ghetto. As familiar as she is with riches, she is also acutely aware of the devastation of urban poverty to which she is determined never to succumb. She was born during New York’s worst snowstorms, and she’s raised in Brooklyn, New York, where her father lavishes her with everything money can buy. Shortly after the family moves to Long Island, the FBI raids the house and arrests Ricky. Winter’s her three sisters (Porsche, Lexus, and Mercedes), but Winter escapes.
“My favorite author is Sarah Dessen. So, I could recommend, like, all of her books. I just picked up Sarah Dessen’s book in the library and was like ‘oh I like this book,’ and the I picked up another one and another one and [The Coldest Winter] It’s really long, but it’s good.” -Aaliyah Bruce
9) The Dirty Divorce by Miss KP
Buffalo & Erie County Public Library summary: Drugs turn out to be a way of life for Rich, a powerful, sexy Drug Lord hailing from Washington, D.C. His desire for fast money and the extravagant things that it brings puts his family in harm’s way. Soon, his ego forces him to leave his castle and empire to expand business on the West Coast. His decision to leave his loved ones behind at the mercy of his enemies turns out to be catastrophic. One by one, each of Rich’s children spiral out of control.
“It is intense, like when you start reading it, it’s, like ‘oh my God. All these things are happening and I can’t put it down because I’m in the middle of something going on.’” -Katrina Allen
10) The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Sparknotes: Jake is a veteran of World War I who now works as a journalist in Paris. Cohn is also an American expatriate, although not a war veteran. He is a rich Jewish writer who lives in Paris with his forceful and controlling girlfriend, Frances Clyne. Cohn has become restless of late, and he comes to Jake’s office one afternoon to try to convince Jake to go with him to South America. Jake refuses, and he takes pains to get rid of Cohn. That night at a dance club, Jake runs into Lady Brett Ashley, a divorced socialite and the love of Jake’s life.
“It’s a very good book to read after a breakup.” -Megan McCaffrey
11) The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
Enotes summary: In 1810, Lavinia is a young woman running through the forest, obviously in distress and accompanied by a seven-year-old girl, Elly. Elly is in hysterics and clings to Lavinia’s skirt. As they make their way through the woods, Lavinia falls in the freezing cold waters of a small stream. She and Elly come to a clearing and see a large oak tree. Hanging lifeless from the tree is someone they both know very well.
“I think it’s a good read. It was, my mom’s book club read it and my mom was like ‘hey, you should read it too!” -Kate Solomon
12) The Giver by Lois Lowry
Sparknotes: The giver is written from the point of view of Jonas, an eleven-year-old boy living in a futuristic society that has eliminated all pain, fear, war, and hatred. There is no prejudice, since everyone looks and acts basically the same, and there is very little competition. Everyone is unfailingly polite. At the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas is given the highly honored Assignment of Receiver of Memory. The Receiver is the sole keeper of the community’s collective memory. When the community went over to Sameness—its painless, warless, and mostly emotionless state of tranquility and harmony—it abandoned all memories of pain, war, and emotion, but the memories cannot disappear totally. Someone must keep them so that the community can avoid making the mistakes of the past, even though no one but the Receiver can bear the pain. Jonas receives the memories of the past, good and bad, from the current Receiver, a wise old man who tells Jonas to call him the Giver.
“Love that book. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. It was a mandatory book I had to read… but I’ve read it like four times.” -Grace Yerman
13) 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Shmoop summary: The novel begins as our narrator, Clay Jensen, mails a mysterious package to someone named Jenny. We soon learn that the package contains the audiotaped suicide note of Hannah Baker, a girl Clay had a crush on before she killed herself about two weeks ago. In the package, there are a total of seven cassette tapes and thirteen stories. On the first tape, Hannah tells her listeners that she holds each of them responsible in some way for her death, and that the tapes will explain why. After listening, each person must give the tapes to the next person on the list.
“It was just super suspenseful… kept you on the edge of your seat.“ -Erika Cross
14) The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Shmoop summary: Science writer Rebecca Skloot has always been obsessed with Henrietta Lacks, the African-American woman whose cancer cells were harvested and used to create an immortal cell line for scientific experimentation. Because there isn’t much information about Henrietta and her family, Skloot wants to tell their story. But she doesn’t realize how much backstory and emotional baggage exists until she starts contacting the family and people connected with them.
“We had to read it my junior year in advanced biology. I like this book because it doesn’t only talk about like the science aspects of it, but also like the politics in the 1900s and how race affected every aspect of people.” -Courtney Pope
15) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Scout Finch lives with her brother, Jem, and their widowed father, Atticus, in the sleepy Alabama town of Maycomb. Maycomb is suffering through the Great Depression, but Atticus is a prominent lawyer and the Finch family is reasonably well off in comparison to the rest of society. One summer, Jem and Scout befriend a boy named Dill, who has come to live in their neighborhood for the summer, and the trio acts out stories together. Eventually, Dill becomes fascinated with the spooky house on their street called the Radley Place. The house is owned by Mr. Nathan Radley, whose brother, Arthur (nicknamed Boo), has lived there for years without venturing outside.
“I thought the book was really good because of how it was set up and the cover was really boring to me…it was so off-putting, but that’s why I say ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” -Elaine Loyd
Have any books you recommend your Maryville classmates read? Comment below or tweet to us @Mvillepawprint!