5 – “Another Country” — I can read this book over and over again and get something different each time. James Baldwin draws a picture of Harlem in the 1930s with a careful rhythm that at times is reminiscent of jazz. He analyzes race relations and sexual orientation in complex and intricate love stories that can’t help but make readers think and question.

Ken Srdjak


4 – “1984” — George Orwell outdid himself with this book. The mix of fear, great writing and an intricate story make this a must read. This also got me super paranoid about government as well as institutions of power in general. The value of free thought and individualism never sounded so powerful.


3 – The Beatles — They provided a base for me and my hippie mom to talk; they are the only music we could ever agree on. There are so many days that I couldn’t have made it without “She Loves You” blasting through my headphones, giving me energy and motivation to make it to yet another class in the blistering Michigan cold. For motivation and an instant good mood I always turn to Fab Four.


2 – Simon and Garfunkel — There is nothing that gives me shivers down my spine the way “Sound of Silence” does. They were pure magic together. there is nothing more calming, more chill than listening to good Simon and Garfunkel. It makes excellent cuddle music.


1 – Billy Joel — As an 8-year-old girl, “River of Dreams” totally rocked my world and he has continued to do just that ever since. His rugged Brooklyn appeal, his accent, the bags under his eyes — there is just something so attractive about Billy Joel that draws you into his entire personality. He is a song writing God and I never would have learned half the historical dates I did during AP US high school year without his “We Didn’t Light the Fire.”

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