Shawna. Reading. Photo Illustration by Erik Simkins/The AS Review

Shawna. Reading. Photo Illustration by Erik Simkins/The AS Review

By Shawna Leader/The AS Review

Remember the days when reading was fun?

Reading used to be a low pressure, relaxing and recreational activity, something we did in our free time, without worrying about finishing chapters on time or studying for a test. Now, as college students, “reading” means getting familiar with a textbook or skimming one of the “classics” in a weekend.

But the beginning of a new quarter doesn’t have to bring about the end of reading for fun. Below is a list of books that are well—written and entertaining enough to keep you interested, but can easily be put down and picked up again a week later should the need arise. Read a few pages before bed, during meals or in between classes. Not only will you benefit from reading a great story, but these books are a nice break from the monotony of textbooks.

“High Fidelity” by Nick Hornby

Memorable quote: “What came first—the music or the misery? Did I listen to music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to music? … People worry about kids playing with guns, and teenagers watching violent videos; we are scared that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands—literally thousands—of songs about broken hearts and rejection and pain and misery and loss.”

If you consider yourself a music fan, this book is for you. Rob, the main character, collects records, owns a record shop and enjoys making lists such as “top five guitar solos” and “top five records by blind musicians.” Rob also has a few romantic hang-ups and a chronology of his previous relationships leads up to his current predicament involving a girl named Laura. The novel does an excellent job of displaying the peaks and pitfalls of romance, but some of the best parts involve Rob’s own insights into popular culture and music, as well as the banter between himself and his record store coworkers. “High Fidelity” depicts the intersections between real life and pop culture with humor and emotion.

“It Must’ve Been Something I Ate” by Jeffrey
Steingarten

Memorable quote: “Do you go through phases when you simply can’t get pizza off your mind? I certainly do—and more often than I would care to admit to anybody but you.”

Steingarten continues his pursuit of fine dining and drink, which he began in his previous book, “The Man Who Ate Everything.” Hunting bluefin tuna, sampling delicacies in Thailand and deconstructing the mysteries of espresso are some of the 38 adventures he embarks upon. Steingarten fills his stories with humorous anecdotes, culinary history and contemporary methods. Steingarten isn’t afraid to go the distance for good food. For example, in one story he smuggles illegal raw-milk cheeses into the States because it is “probably impossible” to find pasteurized cheeses in the U.S. that have “the succulence of any of the raw-milk cheeses in my contraband package.” As an added bonus, most of the stories end with a recipe or two.

“Jurassic Park” by Michael Crichton

Memorable quote: “Up close, it was a much more frightening animal than the tyrannosaur. The tyrannosaur was huge and powerful, but it wasn’t especially smart. The velociraptor was man-size, and it was clearly quick and intelligent; Tim feared the searching eyes almost as much as the sharp teeth.”

Although most people have probably seen the film, “Jurassic Park” is also an excellent read. As is the case with most books that are adapted to the big screen, the book contains more of everything the movie has to offer: dinosaurs, nail-biting chase and attack scenes and discussions of humanity’s place in nature. Of course, the dinosaurs steal the show. Crichton, who passed away last year, creates prehistoric beasts that, while no one has ever really seen a dinosaur, come across as believable, and in the case of the velociraptors, absolutely terrifying. Whether you read this book as an entertaining escapade or a cautionary tale of overzealous scientists (or both), “Jurassic Park” provides a story that is thrilling as well as thoughtful.

“The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Memorable quote: “The eyes are blind. One must look with the heart.”

When the narrator’s airplane crashes in the Sahara desert, he finds an unexpected inhabitant: a small boy who says he has left his asteroid home and traversed the galaxy, finally reaching earth. As the narrator discovers more about the prince’s story, he also learns about love, loss and the ways in which children are far more insightful than adults. The prince’s childlike innocence, paired with his awareness of the realities of life, leads the narrator to realize what values he has lost as an adult. Saint-Exupéry’s writing is simplistic, but conveys powerful emotions. For example, the prince’s story of his rose on the asteroid appears simple at first, but underneath his retelling there is a story of devotion and the joy and sorrow resulting from giving oneself to another. The story is accompanied by Saint-Exupéry’s color drawings.