Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Best Books to Read With Your Closest Friends - Part 2

A year and a half ago I wrote the first post in this series. A year and a half. Oy. Well, here comes the second post, better late than never. Here's a continuation of the list of books that are particularly good for reading with friends. 

I've often praised Rubin here and on Filthy Casket. I can't help it. She is so, so wonderful and, as far as I'm concerned, the best author of her genre. The Happiness Project is a self-help/memoir and it offers so many insights on becoming happy and sustaining happiness. Rubin isn't one of those sappy authors nor is she one who only gives pretty New Age one-liners. She gives solid ideas and advice. She looks at what great thinkers have said about happiness throughout history and puts those theories to work. She herself forms a happiness project and documents it, so we get a real idea of how things work. It sets up a good system readers can follow, though it's flexible enough that it can be tweaked to meet each individual's needs. I think it's great to read with friends mostly because it'd be fun to do happiness projects together, and it'd be a way to stay accountable once you start the projects. I also think it'd be cool to go through the chapters and compare and contrast which elements work best for each friend.

On that same line of thought...

2. Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

This book of Rubin's is specifically about habits. It's great to read with friends mostly for accountability purposes (assuming you're reading with forming/changing habits in mind).

3. The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra

I absolutely loved this book. It's about war, love, politics, and more. It's one of those books that, in my mind, should be just as revered as some of the classics. It's written as stories which ultimately link together in some way, which I kind of think is getting old (it just seems as though so many writers are turning to this style now). But this style, as well as Marra's writing, makes it a good choice to read with friends. It's also wonderful because some of the stories, particularly the first and the last in the book, can be interpreted in different ways. In her review, Liz mentioned that some of the stories left you wondering what really happened - she's totally right. It was one of the most interesting parts of Marra's book. In fact, after we both read it, Liz and I talked about our favorite stories and it turned out we interpreted things in completely different ways, which made it all the more fun to discuss. Books that do this are definitely good to read with friends.

4. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Ah, these books. They're wonderful and I don't understand how anyone could dislike them. They're terrific to read with friends because they're epic, they share great truths, and most importantly, after you all read them you can have a movie marathon with some pizza and wings.

5. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This, I think, is my favorite read of 2016 so far. This is good to read alone, of course, but it's good to read with friends because, as most dystopians go, there are quite a few moments when you ask yourself what you would have done in the character's shoes. Oh, I've figured out the next step in reaching the prize (unimaginable money) - do I tell my friend how to complete the step, too? Oh, a corporation is threatening my life because they want the prize - where do I run? It was fun wondering what I'd do if I happened to be the protagonist, and I bet it'd be even more fun to talk about it with friends. Plus, it's a good outlet to vent frustrations with capitalism - a theme that's all too apparent in this book.

I don't know if many people like reading books with friends, but I know I do. I love when a friend and I can talk about all the awesome (or awful) things that happened in a book, or discuss the different ways we interpreted it, or in the case of Rubin's books, help each other with follow through and advice. There are a lot of advantages to reading with friends, and these are some of the books that offer the most opportunity for good fun. (It doesn't hurt that this is something you can do long-distance, too!)


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