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Top 5 Books to Read Before You Die

by Priscilla Tan

“You’re on your way! You have read 5 of 30 books.” so says my Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge button. March is about to bid adieu to us and I’m only 17% done. Can buttons look sad? Because mine does. I was staring at the iris purple button a minute ago and I swear, if Rory Gilmore was here, she would disapprove of my tardiness. It’s clearly visible that I am probably not going to make it to my goal. I’m 21 years old and I read an average of 20 (30 if I have better time management — it varies) books a year. Geek Insider readers, how’s your reading challenge coming along? Are you neglecting it like I am? If these reading challenges are too much for you, I suggest you to take one step at a time. I’m a print junkie, sure, but I never see myself as a book expert. Still, if I may be bold, here are my top 5 books I strongly feel every human being should read before he or she goes the way of the dinosaurs.

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

A Short History of Nearly Everything looks like a big yawn, but it really isn’t. Bill Bryson has a knack for writing about science in an entertaining way. In the book, Bill Bryson talks about general sciences such as chemistry and astronomy and investigates time from the Big Bang to civilization. Memorable quotes include: There are three stages in scientific discovery. First, people deny that it is true, then they deny that it is important; finally they credit the wrong person.

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

Sophie’s World is very mind-consuming but it’s worth every bit. It’s a philosophical novel set in the year 1990. The story begins with Sophie, a 14 year old girl, receiving anonymous messages in her mailbox. Long story short, through these mysterious communications, she begins a course in philosophy. The big question: who is the sender?

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Apparently Harper Lee makes $9000 a day (yes, a day!) from her book royalties. Bear in mind that To Kill a Mockingbird, her only novel, was published over 50 years ago. What could the reason be behind this dramatic revelation? Libraries running out of copies? Nevertheless, it’s a life-changing book. Major themes involved racism, which is still a big issue in the world today. To Kill a Mockingbird is so good that it won the Putlizer Prize and became a classic of modern American literature. You’d be silly to not read it.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

This is the most underrated YA novel of all time. Our protagonist is the ever brilliant Frances “Frankie” Landau-Banks. She’s (any feminist would) sick of being underestimated by her peers, including her popular boyfriend. She decides to take matters in her own hands — by worming her way into the prestigious ‘all boys’ club, The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. Aiming for the stars, Frankie is hoping that the boys will appreciate her talent and shrewdness; she begins setting up smashing mischievous acts. However, she soon finds out that things are not going according to her plan. If you’re into witty and absurd books, give The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks a read, you won’t be sorry.

Tuesdays with Morrie, An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom

Why Lorelai tells Rory to skip reading Tuesdays with Morrie, I’d never understand. Our title character, Morrie Schwartz is a 78 year old sociology professor who’s dying from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Tuesdays with Morrie is just like what its title suggests: a memoir about life experiences. The story was adapted into a TV movie and starred Jack Lemmon and Hank Azaria. It topped The New York Times Non-Fiction Best Sellers of 2000 and remains Mitch Albom’s breakthrough book.

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