I’m William Repetto, a second-year graduate student at Villanova University. This is the “‘Cat in the Stacks” column. I’m your ‘cat. I’ll be posting about college life, about learning and growing here at Villanova, and, of course, about the Falvey Memorial Library’s role.
Almost now a supposed “Master of the Art” of English, I cannot even pretend to possess the capability to express the profound sadness that has overcome me with the events making headlines recently. The devastating massacre in Las Vegas, of course, is chief among these, but also the rash of hurricanes and the death of Tom Petty – which holds sentimental value for many.
With fall break on the horizon, I’d like to give some book recommendations from me and my colleagues Librarian for English and Theatre Sarah Wingo and First Year Experience & Humanities Librarian Rob LeBlanc. Our picks are of a certain nature; I asked for books that provide some degree of comfort in tough times. Here’s what we came up with:
- “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel
When I talked about comfort reading, you didn’t think our first choice would be a post-apocalyptic novel, did you? “Station Eleven” tells the story of the outbreak of the fictional “Georgia Flu,” which kills off much of the global population. “Where’s the uplifting part in that?” you might be thinking. Well, the story follows Kirsten and her theatre troupe as they attempt to keep art alive in a desolate landscape. According to Wingo, “its moments of people helping each other” are coupled with the reminder of “the capability of humanity to create art and reach out to each other.”
- “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline
We have been obsessed with adaptations recently here at the Falvey, and with “Ready Player One” you have another book with an upcoming film, and another dystopian novel. Find out in this one what happens when one gamer ventures into the virtual realm to discover something new about the reality of the year 2044. LeBlanc says this one is “an amazingly fun story full of ’80s pop culture.” What better way to cure the early 21st-century blues than a little nostalgia?
- “Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien
As I talked to Wingo about our favorite books for this list, she brought up the concept of certain stories having sentimental value beyond the content on the page. Some books remind of us of our dad reading to us at bedtime, of those stories that gave us an escape from the confusing world of adolescence, or those stories that keep you coming back year-after-year or film-after-film. For many of us, I’m sure “Lord of the Rings” is that book. And who can forget that famous quote, “There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.”
- “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
This is another book that should come with a good dose of nostalgia. Don’t we all remember reading this one in middle school or high school? It might surprise you though to see it on this list. Isn’t it more about serious themes and bleak perspectives on race? According to LeBlanc, it’s a little different when you return to the text as an adult. “It’s one of the best stories out there. At the end you feel like justice has been served, and it really is an uplifting book,” he says.
- “Brideshead Revisited” by Evelyn Waugh
We’ve been really interested in banned books recently too! “Brideshead Revisited” tells the misadventures of Charles Ryder during his time at Oxford University and afterward. There are stories of addiction, lost friends, and ostracism within, but what you’ll find at the heart of “Brideshead Revisited” is the ability of a place to recall to mind the good times we had there. This might be particularly useful for those of you planning a trip home for the break or perhaps a visit to the old high school.
You’ll notice that I’ve given you all fiction to read. But that’s not to say fiction’s all there is out there! According to Wingo, “there’s something really empowering about reading non-fiction as well. Reading books about something you don’t know much about, about learning about people who are different from you, can inform your interaction with people in ways you maybe hadn’t thought about.”
Article by William Repetto, a graduate assistant in the Communication and Marketing Dept. at the Falvey Memorial Library. He is currently pursuing an MA in English at Villanova University. (All images courtesy of Google Books.)
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