• Educated

    by Tara Westover Year Published: 2018

    Westover's book is easily some of the most beautiful and easy to read prose that I have ever read. Her heartbreaking story is no less startling as it is profound. Her journey away from the trappings of a mental ill parent and a confined world view showcases her intelligence, strength, and bravery.

     

    To watch Tara's interview with Mormon stories, click here

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  • The Help

    by Kathryn Stockett Year Published: 2009
    This is another easy-to-read book that deftly digs into deep issues of racial divide in our nation. The book follows Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny as they attempt to counteract the vicious social policies of Hilly Holbrooke, who insists that white and black people must not use the same bathrooms. Their struggle is humorous and heartbreaking. 
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  • Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

    by Jamie Ford Year Published: 2009
    Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an easy read about first love. Keep in mind that even though a book is easy to read, this doesn't make it simple or boring. In fact, the best writers can communicate clearly without befuddling their readers. Henry is a Chinese American boy attending a predominantly white elementary school when he meets Keiko, a Japanese American. The fact that these two meet and instantly form a connection would not be a crazy idea if it weren't for the place and the year: Seattle, 1942. Just as Henry begins to realize how much Keiko means to him, her family is swept up into the historical darkness of the internment of Japanese Americans after the Pearl Harbor attacks. Throughout the book, both Henry and Keiko struggle to fit in as American-born citizens who also wish to be true to their ethnic heritage. Even though the middle of the book felt sluggish and the end felt rushed, I still enjoyed every minute of Henry and Keiko's adventures. This book is without a doubt one of the best works of historical fiction that I have ever read. Ford has the rare ability to impart empathy to his readers about the historical plight of Japanese Americans without being preachy.  (Side note: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet was the first book that I read using the OverDrive app on my phone. Did you know that you can check out digital copies of books from our library for free and download them on your phone? I downloaded the book onto the Kindle app on my phone. What a pleasant reading experience it was! And I got to read a new book for free without going to the library!) 
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  • David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants

    by Malcom Gladwell Year Published: 2013
    If you have never read a book by Malcolm Gladwell, this is a good place to start. Gladwell's easy-to-read prose conveys powerful ideas--ideas that seem so simple and yet evade most of us. Gladwell begins his book by explaining the real reason that the Biblical David beat Goliath: Goliath was not as strong as he seemed and David was not as weak as he seemed. In fact, Goliath suffered from acromegaly, a disease of the pituatary gland which causes unusual growth. Goliath was nearly blind and very weak. David, on the other hand, was a gifted slingshot artist. He easily beat Goliath, who expected to be confronted in hand-to-hand combat. In David and Goliath, Gladwell once again challenges his audiences to rethink the idea that the underdog is always at a disadvantage. 
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  • Go Set a Watchman

    by Harper Lee Year Published: 2015

    Although this book was written in the 1950's, the themes are relevant to 2015. In Go Set a Watchman, the reader (and Scout) learns that Atticus is not the saint that he was in To Kill a Mockingbird. Although many readers and critics felt betrayed by this segregationist Atticus, a new, stronger hero emerges from this novel: Scout. As a young woman, Scout find herself in the difficult position of confronting everyone close to her (including her fiance and father) about their racists attitudes. This book is sure to become a classic right beside To Kill a Mockingbird because it deftly addresses what our nation is struggling with at the moment: the frustrating and heartwrenching work to create a color-blind nation against the painful cries of "black lives matter."

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  • The Giver

    by Lois Lowry Year Published: 1993

    I read this for the first time over Thanksgiving break. Friends have been recommending this book to me since it was published over twenty years ago, but I've never gotten around to it. Now I can see why it's been a favorite for so long. It's the books with deep meanings which are also easy to read that influence me the most. A book doesn't have to use impossibly big words to make a dent in our imaginations. And the ideas in this book are still whirling around in my mind, weeks later. Read it! 

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  • A Different Mirror for Young People: A History of Multicultural America

    by Ronald Takaki Year Published: 2012

    Immigration issues are nothing new to American society. This book explores the deep divide that has existed for hundreds of years between native people and immigrants. Because I lived in California, I was unhappy to learn that white people forcibly took land away from Mexican nobility who had lived there first. I was also shocked to learn that immigration (legal or not) has been banned in this country more than once. I've always known that the US government took land away from Native Americans, but this book explains in greater detail about ways that the government eroded the Native American culture and lifestyle. This book turns everything we know about immigration on its head. Also, the author shares his personal experiences and feelings when people ask what country he is from even though he was born in America. 

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  • The Hunger Games

    by Suzanne Collins Year Published: 2008

    I read the first page of this book and was hooked. Since it was immediately clear that this book is about an older sister who wishes for nothing more than to protect her younger, innocent sister, I couldn't put it down. Even though I enjoyed Roth's Divergent series, The Hunger Games series resonated with me in a way that I'm not sure I cannot communicate clearly. The two are in different spheres, in my opinion, because of how well Collins communicates the difficulty women in our society have while trying to be tough and assertive as well as soft and approachable. So although I am no good with an arrow and bow, I felt a kinship with Katniss' hard exterior and inability to communicate her feelings well. In a way, Suzanne Collins describes the modern woman in Katniss: afraid to show weakness and yet needing to be vunerable at the same time. 

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  • Writing Magic

    by Gail Carson Levine Year Published: 2006

    Creative writers would do well to read this book packed with playful advice and exercises by the woman who also wrote Ella Enchanted. And if you are looking for a book that is light and fun to read, look no further. 

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  • How Jesus Became God

    by Bart D. Ehrman Year Published: 2014

    NNU is my alma mater, and some of my favorite classes there were theology classes. It isn't a stretch to say that I'm a part-time student of theology.  I was fascinated by this book. Check it out if you are willing to challenge most of the firmly held beliefs of Western Judeo Christianity.  

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  • Never Let Me Go

    by Kazuo Ishiguro Year Published: 2005

    If you are a creative writer, this book is a good resource in nuanced character interaction. However, I did not enjoy the plot development. Perhaps this is because I have read too much American dystopian YA literature. The book felt preachy at the end, and I didn't think that the main characters grew or learned anything. In the end, it was beautifully written but lacking substance. 

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  • Unbroken

    by Laura Hillenbrand Year Published: 2010

    I was literally biting my nails with anticipation from the beginning of this book to the end. The teaser at the beginning made it almost impossible to not rip through this book quickly. Even though I knew that Louis survived his ordeal, I was breathless to find out how. This is a great book for athletes and an inspiring story about perseverance.

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  • Allegiant

    by Veronica Roth Year Published: 2013

    All the delightful twists and turns of this book series kept me on the edge of my seat. Although I am not always a fan of Roth's writing style, it is clear by the way that she writes that she can truly get into the heads of her characters. And she knows how to ramp of the suspense!

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  • Insurgent

    by Veronica Roth Year Published: 2012

    The religious symbolism was a little heavy-handed in this book. I felt like I could see the ending a mile away, but that didn't stop me from reading the book as fast as I could so that I could find out what happened in the end. One thing that I really enjoyed about this book was reading parts of it from Four's perspective. 

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  • Year of No Sugar

    by Eve Schaub Year Published: 2014

    I was really hoping that this book might contain more information about the health benefits of quitting sugar. Alas, it is more like a journal. The upside is that the author includes some recipes in her book. The downside is that the author fails to understand how to really and truly cut the majority of fructose out of one's diet. Case in point: she uses dates and dried fruits in her cooking. However, her experiment to completely eliminate sugar from her diet is an interesting study in how completely entrenched Americans are in sugary foods.   

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  • The Fault in Our Stars

    by John Green Year Published: 2012
    This book isn't on my favorites list because it features a child struggling with cancer. Since I have kids, it was rough getting through it. But I'm so glad that I did! Green is an amazing writer. And the story is gorgeous. 
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  • Divergent

    by Veronica Roth Year Published: 2011

    It's probably obvious by now that I enjoy reading dystopian YA literature. Roth's society that is divided by personality characteristics is a fascinating study in how people who are different from one another need each other in order to thrive. 

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