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Jacob Longini



Although it was a little YA-ish for my tastes at moments, this was a truly beautiful retelling of the Trojan War. The treatment of supernatural elements reminded me of a more mature "Percy Jackson", and the descriptions of heroic acts and war-time violence were captivating and compelling. I was also impressed with the normalizing way the author included aspects of non-hetero sexuality. This kind of inclusion is beneficial to the reading community.

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The Song of Achilles

Books | Madeline Miller

While the narrative of this particular story didn't quite meet my expectations, the quality of Dickens' prose certainly did. His descriptions are downright delightful, and the charm with which he crafts characters is singular. I particularly loved the scenes at Wermmick's Castle and the instance in which Pip and Herbert feel much better after writing down a list of all their affairs. The Castle is one of my new all-time favourite fictional locations, and the debt-writing activities of the young gentlemen remind me of feeling more fit after merely signing up for a gym membership. Dickens' literary power is not over-rated.

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Great Expectations

Books | Charles Dickens

Bookended by a Dostoevsky-style prologue and epilogue (à la Notes from Underground), this is the story of a young black man trying to make something of himself in the impossible circumstances of the early 20th Century American society. As the protagonist struggles to decide between conformity, rebellion, and subversion in order to advance in a white-dominated world, the reader gleans Ellison's message that this balancing act is a no-win scenario. The narrator "tries belatedly to study the lessons of his life" from his hole, all the while haunted by the deathbed warning of his grandfather and always lugging the briefcase given to him by hometown white men. The existential humanist philosophy that is communicated in this novel is fantastic, and it made this one of my favorite recent reads. A 5-star story that should be read by all college students, particularly those whose syllabi have been rather homogenous.

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Invisible Man

Books | Ralph Ellison

A deep exploration into some of the darkest themes in political philosophy. Arendt studies the conditions necessary for totalitarian rule, what it does to those subjected to it, and what risk totalitarian regimes pose for the future of humanity. Written from the 40s to the 60s (with multiple, updated editions), the book is startlingly prognosticative, as many sections sound like descriptions of the radicalized far-right in America today. (NOTE: I read only the prefaces, "The Dreyfus Affair", pp. 305-307, pp. 326-328, and the final chapter "Ideology & Terror". These sections were recommended to me by my Nana, who has delved further into much of Hannah Arendt's work.)

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The Origins of Totalitarianism

Books | Hannah Arendt

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