5 Books You Should Read

by a contributor

from Ana Cristina Alvarez, author of Support:

Everything Flows by Vasily Grossman
This concise, traumatic (and unfinished) story follows Ivan, a man who has spent the greater part of his life in the Soviet gulags, as he returns home upon the death of Stalin. The reader follows Ivan’s slow steps back into the world, where he is confronted by those complicit in the regime and becomes an unlikely support to those confessing their actions. Grossman is a true artist.

The Plague by Albert Camus.
Camus. Seriously, how can you not read anything by Camus? I’m in awe of the man. I first read this book while living in Miami, Florida. About halfway through the novel, I discovered rat droppings in my grandparents’ house and urged both them and my mom to purchase rat poison, which they did after much cajoling (I explained the basics of the Bubonic Plague, citing history books and Camus’ novel). Sure enough, my mom found a rat in the house that night. No joke.

Blow-up and Other Stories by Julio Cortázar
I dare you to read Letter to a Young Lady in Paris and not laugh. I see a lot of writers attempt to write quirky premises in their stories, but you’ve gotta have more than just a neat idea. Cortázar is the god of the absurd.

The 2012 North Carolina Driver’s Handbook by NC DMV and NC DOT
Informative reading.

The Life of Schubert by Christopher H. Gibbs
Schubert is one of my favorite composers. I don’t think any other composer has gone through such a drastic change in perception, mainly because he didn’t leave much written about himself. Gibbs offers a look at the man through the art Schubert left; powerful yet intimate, blissful yet melancholic.