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The Journalism Lab for Higher Education Top 5 books for college students. Photo: The Journalist Lab for Higher Education at Al Día News

Top 5 Books for College Students

The Journalism Lab for Higher Education at Al Día News Top 5 Books of September for College Students.

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The Journalism Lab for Higher Education is happy to present the Top 5 Books of September for College Students.

  1. Flights by Olga Tokarczuk  

Photo: Flights

Book synopsis: 

From the incomparably original Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk, Flights interweaves reflections on travel with an in-depth exploration of the human body, broaching life, death, motion, and migration. Chopin's heart is carried back to Warsaw in secret by his adoring sister. A woman must return to her native Poland in order to poison her terminally ill high school sweetheart, and a young man slowly descends into madness when his wife and child mysteriously vanish during a vacation and just as suddenly reappear. Through these brilliantly imagined characters and stories, interwoven with haunting, playful, and revelatory meditations, Flights explores what it means to be a traveler, a wanderer, a body in motion not only through space but through time. Where are you from? Where are you coming from? Where are you going? we call to the traveler. Enchanting, unsettling, and wholly original, Flights is a master storyteller's answer.

Best words to describe:

A medley of beautifully weaved fragments of the importance of mobility, travel, while still remaining enigmatic, provocative, and philosophically an unforgettable work of art. 

Importance for college students:

Life is always in motion. We don’t often stop to realize how turbulent the ride may be or get. The novel has its own unique rhythm and the importance of permanence, as beautifully stated on page 4. In understanding one’s drive or obsession, we come to understand our thoughts are always in motion. Our bodies are always in motion. It never stops following a natural flow despite the many interruptions that occur. So what is your voyage? Where are you heading? Are you naturally moving, or simply fighting the currents? 

“That smile of theirs holds— or so it strikes us—a kind of promise that perhaps we will be born anew now, this time in the right time and the right place,” Flights: Boarding. 

Just as the characters of Flights are trying to escape from a settled life, what are you, the student, the job seeker, the parent, the dreamer, trying to escape? 

2. How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water by Angie Cruz  

Photo: How to Not Drown in a Glass of Water

Book synopsis: 

Cara Romero thought she would work at the factory of little lamps for the rest of her life. But when, in her mid-50s, she loses her job in the Great Recession, she is forced back into the job market for the first time in decades. Set up with a job counselor, Cara instead begins to narrate the story of her life. Over the course of twelve sessions, Cara recounts her tempestuous love affairs, her alternately biting and loving relationships with her neighbor Lulu and her sister Angela, her struggles with debt, gentrification and loss, and, eventually, what really happened between her and her estranged son, Fernando. As Cara confronts her darkest secrets and regrets, we see a woman buffeted by life but still full of fight.

Structurally inventive and emotionally kaleidoscopic, How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water is Angie Cruz’s most ambitious and moving novel yet, and Cara is a heroine for the ages.

Best words to describe:

Learning how to cradle pain and adversity with resilience. The power of voice. The power of truth is evident in this story that perfectly weaves a Dominican woman’s experience and trajectory.

Importance for college students:

Understand the importance of discipline as Cara, a Dominican woman in her mid 50s, loses everything and has to face life in the middle of a Great Recession. Just as Cara had to learn to be disciplined to get through life, a college student needs to take responsibility for everything that happens to them and how success is entirely dependent on the student. Also, just as Cara recounts her life’s story and her relationship with Lulu, her best friend, you will navigate the importance of tough conversations and perseverance, and when to seek assistance in your life.

To read about this author click here

3. The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera  

Photo: The Last Cuentista

Book synopsis: 

Había una vez . . . 

There lived a girl named Petra Peña, who wanted nothing more than to be a storyteller, like her abuelita. 

But Petra’s world is ending. Earth has been destroyed by a comet, and only a few hundred scientists and their children — among them Petra and her family — have been chosen to journey to a new planet. They are the ones who must carry on the human race. 

Hundreds of years later, Petra wakes to this new planet — and the discovery that she is the only person who remembers Earth. A sinister collective has taken over the ship during its journey, bent on erasing the sins of humanity’s past. They have systematically purged the memories of all aboard — or purged them altogether. 

Petra alone now carries the stories of our past, and with them, any hope for our future. Can she make them live again? 

Pura Belpré Honor-winning author Donna Barba Higuera presents us with a brilliant journey through the stars, to the very heart of what makes us human.

To read the interview with Donna Barba Higuera please click here

Best words to describe:

Fun. Vibrant. A beautiful story of a young Latina who must leave a no longer inhabitable Earth and learns the importance of adapting. Although this is a middle-grade dystopian novel, it is poetically magical while honoring the storytelling of our ancestors and Mexican folklore.

Importance for college students:

Whether you are lost in space or wondering about life and its ever-changing situations, you will find a home in The Last Cuentista. A voyage to one unforgettable cuento (which means “story” in English) of what it means to adapt, believe, and find one’s self. 

What stories do you hold? Are you ready to share them? Release your inner Petra, whether you are a first-generation student, an immigrant or someone figuring out life, Petra’s story may seem ‘too science-fiction,’ but if you read closely, you too can see that she was a young girl trying to find where she belonged; and how to preserve her heritage, Earth’s cuentos through the power of storytelling, hence The Last Cuentista. 

4. The Ballad of Never After (Second book in Once Upon a Broken Heart series) by Stephanie Garber  

Photo: The Ballad of Never After

Book synopsis: 

Not every love is meant to be.

After Jacks, the Prince of Hearts, betrays her, Evangeline Fox swears she'll never trust him again. Now that she’s discovered her own magic, Evangeline believes she can use it to restore the chance at happily ever after that Jacks stole away.

But when a new terrifying curse is revealed, Evangeline finds herself entering into a tenuous partnership with the Prince of Hearts again. Only this time, the rules have changed. Jacks isn’t the only force Evangeline needs to be wary of. In fact, he might be the only one she can trust, despite her desire to despise him.

Instead of a love spell wreaking havoc on Evangeline’s life, a murderous spell has been cast. To break it, Evangeline and Jacks will have to do battle with old friends, new foes, and a magic that plays with heads and hearts. Evangeline has always trusted her heart, but this time she’s not sure she can. . . .

Best words to describe:

Absolutely breathtaking. My heart was exposed, slowly beating, as I exhaled Jack and Evangeline over and over again! 

Importance for college students:

What would you do for love? Will you fight the world, if need be to preserve that love? We all are in desperate need to disconnect from life’s many ordeals. College may teach you how to stay safe and avoid risky behaviors, and The Ballad of Never After will push you outside of your comfort zone to be creative, spontaneous, free to love, free to choose whether to follow your heart or? Drumroll please…. You’ll have to read to find out. No spoilers allowed. Sorry but not sorry. 

5. Something Wilder by Christina Lauren  

Photo: Something Wilder

Book synopsis: 

Growing up the daughter of notorious treasure hunter and absentee father Duke Wilder left Lily without much patience for the profession…or much money in the bank. But Lily is nothing if not resourceful, and now uses Duke’s coveted hand-drawn maps to guide tourists on fake treasure hunts through the red rock canyons of Utah. It pays the bills but doesn’t leave enough to fulfill her dream of buying back the beloved ranch her father sold years ago, and definitely not enough to deal with the sight of the man she once loved walking back into her life with a motley crew of friends ready to hit the trails. Frankly, Lily would like to take him out into the wilderness—and leave him there.

Leo Grady knew mirages were a thing in the desert, but they’d barely left civilization when the silhouette of his greatest regret came into focus in the flickering light of the campfire. Ready to leave the past behind him, Leo wants nothing more than to reconnect with his first and only love. Unfortunately, Lily Wilder is all business, drawing a clear line in the sand: it’s never going to happen.

But when the trip goes horribly and hilariously wrong, the group wonders if maybe the legend of the hidden treasure wasn’t a gimmick after all. There’s a chance to right the wrongs—of Duke’s past and their own—but only if Leo and Lily can confront their history and work together. Alone under the stars in the isolated and dangerous mazes of the Canyonlands, Leo and Lily must decide whether they’ll risk their lives and hearts on the adventure of a lifetime.

Best words to describe: 

Wild! exciting, refreshing, and ready for the rain to pour.

Importance for college students: 

If the pandemic affected you in any way, which I think we can all agree it did, then Something Wilder will take you along a journey of escapism and love. That trip you wished you’d taken prior to the pandemic, that romantic gateway, those beautiful sunsets you failed to acknowledge, those rainy days that bothered you, and now are the reason you take a moment to breathe. 

College students would learn to slow down and take in everything. Enjoy life. Enjoy its beauty. How to be independent enough to make decisions and dependent on those among you, to hold you when needed. Something Wilder is a ride of a lifetime of everything we failed to see before. 

Stay tuned to AL DIA NEWS for our monthly Top 5 Books for College Students.


 

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