Culture Staff Recommends: Books

Culture Staff

Summer is only a few weeks away and beach reads will soon be a necessity, so the Culture staff has five book recommendations for you. Check the Culture section weekly for our staff’s picks.



by Maggie Nelson

Autobiography, $12.63

Hunter McKenzie’s pick

This gorgeous, experimental autobiography is not only an exploration of the color blue, but also a deep dive into themes of love, loss, friendship and philosophy.

Written in loose lyrical prose and list form,  “Bluets” is just one example of author Maggie Nelson’s power and unconventional style in the field of nonfiction and poetry.

“I would rather have had you by my side than any one of these words; I would rather have had you by my side than all the blue in the world,” Nelson writes.


“Norwegian Wood”

by Haruki Murakami

Fiction, $10.20

Jean McBride’s pick

Translated from Japanese, this coming-of-age novel delves deep into the issues of depression and youthful rebellion.

Focusing on the sexual and emotional life of the introspective Toru as he chooses between two lovers, the book forces us to confront the inevitable harms that come with growing up and moving on.

While many characters commit suicide, their deaths are handled with profound dignity. If you can handle tragedy, you should read this book.


“The Idiot”

by Elif Batuman

Fiction, $11.00

Bridget Higdon’s pick

Written in the style of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky’s great Russian novels, “The Idiot” follows protagonist Selin as she stumbles through her first year at Harvard University in 1995. Emails are new and mixtapes are traded as social currency when Selin falls for Ivan.

Every sentence will have you nodding in empathy as Selin asks the important questions: “How do you make friends?” “How do you fall in love?” “The Idiot” is an all-consuming journey that carries you gracefully through time and space.



by Stephen King

Science Fiction, $19.90

Allie O’Connor’s pick

In this thrilling, quasi-historical science-fiction epic, high school teacher Jake Epping is sent back in time to stop the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

King writes with such passion and well-timed urgency, touching on sweeping questions like whether or not one man can make an impact.

For me, the shining moments in this book are the simplest, smallest, seemingly inconsequential events during Jake’s time in the past that make the characters feel truly human and real.


“The Name of the Wind”

by Patrick Rothfuss

Fantasy, $9.94

Izzy Seidman’s pick

With over 600 pages of intimate story on how Kvothe became a notorious wizard, this book is full of magic and written like a poem.

With a skilled balance between plot points and riveting details, its humor, complex characters and stunning language are surprisingly fresh. The book examines social patterns, how we perceive time and the power of words. I thought I left my fantasy days behind, but this one slipped past my filter. “You have to be a bit of a liar to tell a story the right way,” Kvothe says.