The last several months have certainly seen enough tumult and drama to overshadow the achievements of some of the year”s brightest authors. There has been an understandable displacement of literary interest casual readers at the Universityand across the nationhave had to worry about more important things than the year”s best-selling works of literature.

Paul Wong
Courtesy of WW Norton & Co.

But alas, a new year is upon us. We hope that the present conflicts of our time may have a resolution close at hand and can only we make a return to our normalcy. And so, this humble book editor entreats you to invest some of your leisure time in good literature. “Read for pleasure?,” you exclaim. “But I have not the time!” Well, that”s just poppycock. Make the time. A good book is perhaps one of the greatest simple pleasures one can hope to enjoy. So go ahead and keep enjoying your debaucherous weekend nights, but I also would recommend freeing up some time for one of these gems:

n “True History of the Kelly Gang” by Peter Carey The story of Australia”s most celebrated cowboy. Yup, that”s rightthe land down under once did have its share of pistol-toting, bronco-taming heroes. This Booker Prize-winning masterpiece attempts to break through the myths surrounding Ned Kelly and his cohorts. What emerges from this “True History” is a beautiful account of the enigmatic personality and exciting exploits of one of Australia”s most legendary men.

n “Glue” by Irvine Welsh Irvine Welsh is perhaps Generation X”s most brilliant documenter. In his latest look at drugs, modern life and more drugs, Welsh captures the story of four Scottish lads and their coming of age within the Edinburgh projects. No different from his prior works, the language is coarse and the situations are explicit, but yet this novel emerges as a truly remarkable glimpse into rave culture, addiction and urban sex and dating. A damn fine book.

n “Half A Life” by V.S. Naipaul This year, India”s biggest literary juggernaut released his latest contribution to the world of literature. And in this case, I do not use the term literature lightly. This dude is one of this century”s greatest living writers. Although Trinidadian by birth, Naipaul weaves here yet another story about the effects of British colonialism on the Indian psyche. “Half A Life” recounts the sad life experiences of a rootless middle-aged Indian man. The language is beautiful and the style is superb.

n “The Universe in a Nutshell” by Stephen Hawking In 1988, eminent astrophysicist Stephen Hawking penned “A Brief History of Time” in order to appease the curiosities of the masses. The groundbreaking work proved to be accessible to the less than absolutely brilliant. Now with his “Universe in a Nutshell,” further conceptualizes with pictures (yay! It has drawings!!) and entertaining abstractness some of the most complex theories in quantum mechanics. Trust me, it”s sweet..

n “Fire” by Sebastian Junger In this collection of true accounts, Junger, most notable for his “The Perfect Storm” explores instances in which humans come to confront danger. Written with the style of a practiced journalist, “Fire” contains a highly diverse plethora of recent news stories in which different sets of ordinary people face nature”s fury, war, and hitting very close to home, international terrorism. It is at times very moving, and stands as a very well-conceived piece of literature.

n “Lying Awake” by Mark Salzman Alternately informative and spiritual, Mark Salzman”s “Lying Awake” describes the cloistered life of a highly unusual character an epileptic Carmelite sister. All the more interesting is the nunnery”s location within downtown Los Angeles. Salzman”s work softly probes some of the scientific foundations of mental disorders while capturing the meaning of faith in its most religious sense.

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