Don’t judge a book by its cover

Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut

Written in 1963 by the well-known author of Slaughterhouse Five, this novel is another prime example of Vonnegut’s writing prowess. With interesting use of satire and gallows humor, Vonnegut draws you into a multi-faceted and wildly fascinating path to the end of the world. While working in the public relations department at General Electric, Vonnegut observed research scientists working there, focusing heavily on a scientist known as Irving Langmuir, a renowned chemist. Irving became the character model for Dr. Hoenikker, who in the novel creates a dangerous product known as “ice-nine.” This starts the ball rolling on a path to destruction, beginning on a fictional island known as San Lorenzo. We follow the protagonist through the apathy and misanthropy that is often typical of Vonnegut’s main characters and, much like when reading Slaughterhouse Five, do not flinch as society crumbles.

Haunted – Chuck Palahniuk

A word to our more conservative readers; Palahniuk is probably not for you. Like many of his books, Haunted expresses themes of violence, sexual deviance and murder, often in great detail. However, Palahniuk is an amazing author with grand imagination and insight on our world today. He knows what scares us, what makes us squirm, what makes us cry, what haunts us. Haunted is a fictional collection of the stories written by people who answered an ad for a “writers’ retreat” and slowly discovered that this paradise created solely for writing the best short story they’ve ever written is not a paradise at all. As their host slowly siphons off food and water, the writers find themselves fighting for their own survival. As strange as it is fascinating, this book will keep you turning the pages no matter how scared you may be.

Sifting Through The Madness For The Word, The Line, The Way – Charles Bukowski

Though well known for his misanthropic demeanor, Bukowski is also renowned for his breathtaking poetry. Writing six novels, thousands of poems and hundreds of short stories in his several years of glory, Bukowski wrote insightfully about the life of poor Americans, unsatisfying relationships, the toil of his job and the life and being of writing. In this collection, he begins by stating what writing really is and what a writer really does. Though seemingly forward and abrasive, the truth is there. That honesty is constant throughout the rest of the poetry in his collection.

Animal Farm – George Orwell

As adeptly as he expresses criticism of totalitarianism in 1984, Orwell composes a brilliant allegory describing the era of Stalinism in the USSR with the use of a cast of organized farm animals that rise up to overthrow their oppressive human master, only to be oppressed once more by the pig characters that manipulate their fellow farm animals to gain full control. This novella was widely criticized at the time of its manifestation, and Orwell had an extremely difficult time getting it published anywhere before it was finally sold in 1945.

Anthem – Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand constructs a fascinating dystopia that warns us of the dangers of collectivism. The government has taken complete control over the people, banning singular pronouns like “I,” “me” and “myself.” The elimination of individuality is so stressed that the main character and narrator, a man named Equality 7-2521, reports that people who utilize these forbidden pronouns have been arrested and brutally executed. Equality 7-2521 is a bit of an outlaw, as he attempts to rediscover and recreate electricity in sealed tunnels hidden beneath this city and simultaneously pursues a love interest named Liberty 5-3000, an act that is also considered a crime. The novella leads us through the protagonist’s tip-toeing around the law and rediscovering of emotions and individuality, the entire journey steeped in suspense and humanity.

Watership Down – Richard Adams

Watership Down is the strange and slightly twisted story of a roving group of rabbits written by Richard Adams. The rabbits live in their natural environment and are anthropomorphised through a culture in their warren with a language, literature and a religion. The main character of the story, a rabbit named Fiver, possesses the ability to see into the future and predicts the imminent doom of their warren. The leader of the warren does not believe him and refuses to move the clan. Fiver and a few close friends leave the warren in search of Fiver’s prophesied “holy land,” a healthy place to establish a new warren. On their perilous journey, full of run-ins with farm dogs and other failing rabbit warrens, the rabbits find new comrades and learn about the dangers beyond the familiar fields.

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