Books/My Culture 10 Summer Must-Reads by Ivan Garcia The Book is Always Better “It was at this point that Bilbo stopped. Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things that happened afterwards were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait.” Then Bilbo talks with Smaug (the dragon), grabs the Arkenstone, and runs out. Smaug angrily flies out to destroy Lake Town and… I don’t want to spoil it for you. If you couldn’t already tell, I LOVE THE HOBBIT! The movie was OK and all, but the book is where it’s at and will always be better in my mind! If you’re an avid reader like me, you know just how easy it is to get lost in a great story. You relate to the characters and can put yourself in their shoes. Books have the power to transport us to another place where our minds are free to be wild and vivid, where we can imagine what it would be like to live at Hogwarts, share a boat with a tiger, or talk to a friggin’ dragon. Summer is here! It can be a special time if you want it to be and one way to do so is to read a great book (check out other great summer activities here!). You may not have had the time during the school year to read the book you wanted but summer is here! Maybe you don’t know what book to read? Don’t fear, Ivan is here with your top ten summer must reads of 2018! So, grab a book and your favorite caffeinated drink, and prepare to get lost in the story. Oh, and don’t worry! This is a spoiler-free blog — I got you! 1.The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien Come on… how can this not be my first book? This is, by far, my favorite book of all time. The quote I shared above is my favorite line from the whole book. The Hobbit is all about courage and bravery. Bilbo Baggins lives a life of comfort in his hobbit hole until Gandalf and a bunch of dwarves stumble (literally) through his door. Ultimately, he goes on the greatest adventure I have ever read. JRR Tolkien, in my opinion, is the greatest storyteller ever (next to God, of course). If you read The Hobbit, try moving onto the next behemoth of a challenge: The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. 2. Harry Potter by JK Rowling Now I’m gonna be completely real with you all… I’ve never read them. I know, I know. How am I a “credible source”? Maybe I’m not, but all of my friends have read them and tell me just how amazing they are. My sister has read all of the books countless times and is the biggest Harry Potter fan I know, to the point that I can’t even watch the movies with her because she quotes every line and it’s so annoying (I love you, Victoria). JK Rowling created such a vivid world that many a teen — and adult — wish to visit Hogwarts and experience the wonder for themselves. It’s the ultimate battle between good and evil, the light verses the darkness with a little magic mixed in (and as Catholics, we know magic and witchcraft aren’t real). This story is all about family, friendship, and sacrifice. 3. Life of Pi by Yann Martel Everyone knows that tigers are awesome. Being stuck on a lifeboat in the middle of the pacific ocean with a Royal Bengal tiger who is hungry? Not so awesome. There is so much wonder and beauty in the way Yann Martel writes this story about a young man who goes on a journey to find God and himself while trying not to get eaten by a tiger afloat a lifeboat. Perseverance is a major element in this book and and it will challenge you to seek God even when hope seems lost. 4. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline USA today described this book as “Willy Wonka meets The Matrix,” and it is the perfect way to explain this next book. If you love pop culture references, movies, and video games, this book is for you. Wade Watts and his peeps are on the hunt for the keys placed by the creator to open up the hidden Easter egg and control the OASIS. I’m a gamer and an avid movie watcher so this book hits home for me. If you share my affinity for gaming and movies, it might just hit home for you, too. 5. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” We all know these lines from the incredible, timeless Charles Dickens masterpiece! If you miss school that badly and want to learn something, this book will do the trick, as it talks about the French Revolution, love, and revenge. This one is for hardcore readers who love detail and thought provoking stories. 6. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo Another super long, classic book, but guys, Les Mis is AMAZING! Even if you’ve seen the musical on stage or on the big screen, the book is worth the read. Follow the riveting tale of Valjean as he tries to escape the grasps of Javert, while experiencing conversion through a bishop and trying to always do the honorable thing. This book is SUPER Catholic and you owe it to yourself to read this beautiful story. 7. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho Looking for an inspiring, motivational story about the beauty of life, destiny, and God? Then look no further than The Alchemist! Santiago is a shepherd on a quest to find his personal legend, which takes him from the Andalusian hills of Spain to the Pyramids in Egypt. We are all in search of our personal legend (God’s will) and Coelho gives us his take on it in such a moving and beautiful way. 8. Life of Christ by Fulton J. Sheen By far my favorite theological writer ever, Archbishop Sheen has a very poetic way of writing. I’ve read Popes Benedict XVI and JPII, and sometimes their writing goes over my head, but Sheen’s writing is understood so easily and speaks to my soul. Life of Christ is beautifully portrays the moments from our Lord’s conception to His Ascension into heaven. This book will make you fall deeper in love with Jesus! 9. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis I cannot make a book list and not include Lewis. That would be terribly sad. I almost went with The Chronicles of Narnia and although those are amazing books, his most thought provoking book, in my opinion, is The Screwtape Letters. Wormwood is a demon in training and his uncle, Screwtape, sends him letters of advice on how best to tempt a British man, called only “the Patient,” into sin and, eventually, hell. It may sound scary, but trust me, it isn’t! Instead, Lewis illustrates, in an almost comical way, how the devil uses tactics against humanity to get us to turn away from God. If we know the ways the devil tempts us, we can watch out for his tactics. If I know that I fall into sin when I binge watch a Netflix show, I know I need to turn it off and read a book or have coffee with a friend. Thank you C.S. Lewis for the tips! 10. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket These 13 book are absolutely fascinating! They follow the lives of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny who are placed in the custody of their evil relative, Count Olaf, after their parents death. Throughout the books, Olaf stops at nothing to try to steal their fortune. It’s a bit of a challenge to tackle all 13 books in one summer, but if you’re up for it, do it! *Extra* The Bible by God DUH. The Lord wants to tell you how much He loves you and He does that through Scripture. The Bible has everything from romantic love stories to betrayal, suspense to comedy, creation to sacrifice. It’s by no means a boring book as it has everything you could want and more! If you’ve never read Scripture, start with the Gospels where you’ll learn about and fall in love with Jesus through His ministry on Earth! But regardless of where you start, just start! When you read Scripture, your life will change for the better — trust me. Get Reading So there you have it, my summer must reads of 2018. There are so many books to read and so much time to read them. If you have a few hours to kill, you can read. If you’re going on a road trip, you can read. If you’re waiting at the MVD to get your license, you can read. Get your imagination going by immersing yourself in a great story and see the world in a different light. And be sure to have fun with what you read! Don’t let it be a chore; if the book is not for you, move on to another one! The beautiful part about reading is that there is a book for everyone, no matter what. So pick up a book and start reading!