Read it and weep

In honor of the Tucson Festival of Books, the Daily Wildcat staff goes between the lines to give you a few of our favorite books

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Ashwin Mehra | The Daily Wildcat

Photo illustration by Ashwin Mehra / The Daily Wildcat

Pick up an old favorite or read something new this spring break.

“Temperance” by Cathy Malkasian

Blessedbowl is a massive, stationary ship made of stone. Its inhabitants are closed off from the world, convinced that a monstrous enemy is pursuing them across a sea of fire. Their greatest hero, Lester, suffers from amnesia but believes he will someday face the enemy on the Final Shore. Minerva, his wife, is Blessedbowl’s matriarch and propagandist. Knowing the truth of their situation, she weaves stories to motivate their productivity and keep Lester safe from memories that could destroy them all. Malkasian’s graphic novel explores war and propaganda with expressive pencil lines and supernatural characters. It’s a thoughtful text with a fantastic world you’ll find hard to leave.

— Nicole Prieto, copy chief


“White Teeth” by Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith’s sprawling, Dickensian first novel is the most modern, immediate book I’ve ever read, and also the main reason I got to write about masturbation on my AP Literature test. Smith effervescently explores the effects of globalization and the many intersections it has produced. There are Jehovah’s Witnesses, mice of the future, radical terrorist groups and a little bit of Joe Pesci. But what I took away was a sense of transience about identities and histories — the power and magic of self-ascribing — that I haven’t taken lightly since.

— Katelyn Kennon, assistant online editor


“Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” by Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof

“The tide of history is turning women from beasts of burden and sexual playthings into full-fledged human beings.” “Half the Sky” is an eye-opening storytelling of the unbelievable injustices of girls and women in developing countries. It is told through stories of young women and written by two of the most remarkable activists and journalists of our time: Pulitzer prize winners Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn — #RelationshipGoals. It tore down my idea of equality but gave me hope for the potential for progress. Plus, the book made a really nice addition to my Kristof shrine.

— Christianna Silva, investigative editor


“Still Life with Woodpecker” by Tom Robbins

Simply put, “Still Life with Woodpecker” is an unorthodox love story — but certainly not one of the sappy variety. This book is the best kind of junk food read — it is simultaneously addictive and cerebral, and while appealing to every guilty pleasure, it also feeds the intellectual within. Rife with symbolism, “Still Life” is the kind of story that takes place in a pack of Camel cigarettes. Delving into such matters as “the moon, pyramids, the distinction between criminal and outlaw, the conflict between social activism and romantic individualism, Arabs, exiled royalty and pregnant cheerleaders. It also deals with the problem of redheads.” 

— Elise McClain, arts and life writer


“Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling

I wanted to say that my favorite book is “Everything is Illuminated” by Jonathan Safran Foer, which is fantastically written, or “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which inspired the tattoo on my foot.

But if I’m being strictly honest, there is no book that has ever brought me more pleasure than the “Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling. It was the first time words made me laugh out loud, and then it became the first book to make me cry and the first to pervade my dreams.

“Harry Potter” still lives in my bones. He is, in a word, bae.

— Jacquelyn Oesterblad, opinions editor


“The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster

I have read this book so many times. I loved it as a kid because it really is just a magical journey, but I fell even more in love with it the older I got because it’s then that you can really appreciate the book’s fun cleverness (you jump to get to the island of conclusions) and wordplay (there are characters such as the Whether Man and the Senses Taker).

— Julie Huynh, science editor


“Scott Pilgrim” comic book series by Bryan Lee O’Malley

“Let’s be friends based on mutual hate” — Wallace Wells, Scott Pilgrim’s cool, gay roommate. This book spoke to my soul. Scott Pilgrim is a quirky, hilarious comic book series by Bryan Lee O’Malley about an average joe fighting seven evil exes to win the love of the coolest girl in Toronto. It’s an action-packed, goofy underdog story that makes fun of vegans and reminds you that bread makes you fat.

— Joey Fisher, assistant design chief


“The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas

“The Count of Monte Cristo” is, by far, my favorite book of all time simply because it encompasses every genre you could ever want within the confines of an excellent adventure novel. Being a megapolyphonic novel, it includes a vast array of inherently flawed characters and deals with themes of revenge, betrayal, romance, power, mystery, hope and justice, just to name a few. No other novel I have ever encountered so perfectly exemplifies human nature with such tact and in such an entertaining way. The Count himself, Edmond Dantès, is impossible to dislike despite his quest for detrimental and sometimes violent vengeance. You’ll root for him during his fall from grace, his rise to power and his intricate destruction of the lives of those who wronged him — and you’ll love every damn page.

— Torsten Ward, managing editor


“My Brilliant Career” by Miles Franklin 

Residing in the Australian bush, Sybylla Melvyn was the anti-heroine in Miles Franklin’s debut semi-autobiographical novel published in 1901. Sybylla defied social conventions by cursing god, demanding gender equality and the most shocking of all: turning down two marriage proposals to pursue an unlikely writing career. She was rash and resilient when women were to be coy and reticent. She fell in love with an eligible bachelor but knew her passion to write would be hampered by marriage and babies. Franklin wrote Sybylla as an extension of herself and risked not being published due to refusing to give the reader closure or a fairy-tale ending. 

— Anna Mae Ludlum, arts and life writer


“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green

“The Fault in Our Stars” is the story of two teenagers who fall in love, which would be completely uninteresting if the protagonist, Hazel, didn’t have cancer. It remains my favorite book because of the simultaneous heartbreak and hope that exist inside its pages, and how it never fails to extract my rawest emotions whenever I read it. As Hazel says in the book, “Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” This is that book for me.

— Mia Moran, arts and life editor


“The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien

Few novels have captured the imaginations of so many people as “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien, whether as a book, a radio drama or a film. I was a movie-watcher first — I read the books after the first movie came out in 2001 — but I was hooked by Middle-earth and its beautiful inhabitants from the very start. Frodo’s journey is a reminder to readers that, as Sam realizes in the depths of Mordor, “the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”

— Ashwin Mehra, assistant copy chief


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