By Jessica Lyons
From the 1960s - In Cold Blood
Truman Capote's 1966 novel In Cold Blood gives you insight into crime in the United States as it chronicles the murder of four individuals in Kansas in 1959. To write the book, Capote traveled to Kansas to interview the killers, Richard Hickock and Perry Smith.
In Cold Blood would be interesting to anyone who hears about murders and wants to gain a better understanding about what happened, but it's particularly a must-read for anyone interested in studying a legal-related field. This book will help you get a good look at the law in action. It's also a good read for someone who wants to pursue journalism, since Capote held his responsibilities as a journalist to the highest standard while producing the work.
From the 1970s - The World According to Garp
Published in 1978, The World According to Garp is the fourth novel by John Irving, who now has about 15 titles to his name. The book follows the life of fictional novelist T.S. Garp and takes readers on a journey that covers a wide variety of emotions. It's full of events that make you wonder how Irving thought them up, and you'll also meet many unique characters that make you want to read on to find out what happens to them.
Irving's books aren't necessarily for those who are looking for a quick read. The World According to Garp, which is a New York Times bestseller, is more than 600 pages long, so you have to be a dedicated reader to take it on. But reading an Irving novel could be a good way to prepare for having to do a lot of reading for your college classes.
From the 1980s - The Minds of Billy Milligan
Although Daniel Keyes his probably best known for Flowers for Algernon, his 1981 book The Minds of Billy Milligan is a memorable read that you shouldn't miss. In the late '70s Billy Milligan, a resident of Ohio, was arrested and charged with rape. But it was soon discovered that he has 24 different personalities. You'll easily get sucked into this story of multiple personalities and psychosis as the book details this mental disorder while trying to show you what it's like for the person who has it.
Anyone interested in psychology will want to read The Minds of Billy Milligan. It provides an in-depth look at a problem, also known as dissociative identity disorder, that some still doubt is real. And even if you're not going to be studying psychology, it's just a great book - plain and simple.
From the 1990s - The Pianist
Personal survival stories from the Holocaust helped the world put a face on a horrendous time in world history when millions were killed. In 1999, Wladyslaw Szpilman's autobiography The Pianist provided another moving look at what happened. Szpilman spent several years hiding in Warsaw, and it was his ability to play the piano so beautifully that would eventually help save him. Filmmaker Roman Polanski later adapted The Pianist to the big screen.
This book could very well inspire history and music majors alike. For the history major, it's a different way to hear about a major event of the world that goes beyond just the facts and dates. For the music major, it shows how powerful music can be and the strength it can provide.
From the 2000s - A Thousand Splendid Suns
A buzz developed for Khaled Hosseini after he released The Kite Runner in 2004, and his 2007 book, A Thousand Splendid Suns, showed that he wasn't going to be a one hit wonder. Set in Afghanistan, readers are taken into the lives of two women trying to survive and raise their families during war times. Hosseini uses his masterful storytelling skills to draw you in and help you become attached to the characters, making it hard to put the book down until you've reached the last page.
We are constantly bombarded with news stories about what's going on in war torn countries, but A Thousand Splendid Suns makes you think more about the people living there. It might even make you start to think about how you can use your degree to make a difference in the world. At the very least, it will stimulate your interest in current events you might find yourself studying.
Want a little fantasy with your history? Don't miss these great new reads in historical fiction.