First-year Chelsea Taura’s books and notebooks she keeps in her bedroom. These books kept under her nightstand include a variety of authors and titles. Photo courtesy of Chelsea Taura
Pepperdine staff and students suggest their favorite reads to help you choose your next literary journey.
From a romantic adventure through Egypt to a thought-provoking experience about faith — the suggested books vary in genre, timeframe and reading levels. First-year Holley Hargraves said she feels transported into the books whenever she reads them.
“I continue to read, because I feel like it stretches my mind and I feel like I can enter into these worlds and get really connected to the characters,” Hargraves said.
“She uses different parables in the Bible from Jesus’s teaching and just everything, she really adapts it to a more modern perspective,” Taura said.
Going into college, Taura said this book gave her a better outlook on living in the moment and focusing less on academic stress.
Taura’s other suggestion, “Walking with the Wind,” splits away from a faith-based work and switches gears to history. From the author John Lewis, it describes the struggles Lewis faced and his experience living through the Civil Rights Movement.
“I have never read that fast in my life,” Taura said. “And it was so captivating that I kind of flew through it.”
The book has a lot of firsthand experience with the topic of Civil Rights, Taura said, making it an important read to gain more perspective on the movement.
Hargraves made another historical nonfiction suggestion called “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien. Hargraves said the book is a memoir about O’Brien’s experience being drafted in the Vietnam war.
“It was really about PTSD and how soldiers are really forced to deal with so much, the coming home experience and everything like that,” Hargraves said. “It was just a really incredible book that’s life-changing. It still remains one of my favorite books of all time.”
“It was just very poetic and beautiful and well done,” Hargraves said. “And it just captured the era of the time and what it was like to live there.”
Set during the early 1900s in Salinas Valley, Hargraves said the book reminds her of the well-known Biblical story, Cain and Abel, as it depicts on multiple generations of family while focusing on the theme of jealousy.
“A big thing from ‘East of Eden’ that people can take away, is that certain elements of families are carried on from family to family, sort of like that concept of intergenerational trauma,” Hargraves said.
Gould said reading “Mara, Daughter of the Nile,” a romance-based adventure story set in Egypt, was formative for her younger self.
“It played a big role in helping shape my interests in stories that are set in that part of the world, which is part of what my research is about now,” Gould said.
The story is for anyone seeking escapism and a quick and easy read, Gould said.
“Til We Have Faces,” is a more dense book that Gould said is ideal for someone who loves mythology, is seeking more works by Lewis, or a deeper understanding of God.
“That one is a retelling of the myth of Psyche,” Gould said. “And it’s one where Lewis is really focused on the beauty of grace. What does it mean to receive grace when? What does it mean, first of all, to recognize the ways that we have fallen short, and then to recognize how grace is extended to us in those circumstances?”
Great Books Prof. Don Thompson said he suggests a variety of literary classics. Among the suggestions, Thompson emphasized his love of the book, “The Consolation of Philosophy” by Boethius.
“What makes it so important is that he talks about happiness,” Thompson said.
Other books Thompson recommended are “The Republic” by Plato, “Paradise Lost” by John Milton and “The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Thompson said these books heavily discuss philosophical themes like justice and virtue.
“In all these books, find somebody to read the book with, because if you read by yourself, you get a lot out of it, but you get more when you talk about it,” Thompson said.
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