When the temperature outside drops below 30 degrees, you may want to stay in – but you can only watch movies and play video games for so long until your eyes water and your body gets sore. A good substitute can be achieved through the magical power of books, which through your imagination will bring you into a different world and make the most of your time while it’s cold and snowy outdoors. Here is a list of five books from various genres that DePaul students recommend. Most of them are historical dramas, adventure and introspective works, so you can definitely find something that fits your taste.
Silence by Shusaku Endo
Silence is a Japanese 1966 novel about Catholic missionaries in the 17th century. It is based on a true story and is very powerful, revealing the history around Japanese Christians that experienced persecution and the Jesuits that endured it alongside them. The plot follows two 17th-century Jesuit priests who travel from Portugal to Edo-era Japan via Macau to locate their missing mentor and spread Catholic Christianity. The story is set in a time when it was common for the faith’s Japanese adherents, then called the kakure kirishitan, to hide from persecution which resulted from the suppression of Christianity in Japan during the Shimabara Rebellion. “I enjoy reading it,” said Ilana Blattner, sophomore at DePaul, majoring in anthropology and Catholic studies. “It can be very sad and difficult to read at some points due to the graphic torture scenes, but I think it’s important to share the experiences of both the Jesuit missionaries and the Japanese people.” There has been a 2016 movie adaptation of the same name based on this book, directed by Martin Scorsese.
Rebel in the Ranks by Brad S. Gregory
If you’re into history, then Rebel in the Ranks is a book for you. This a story about the Protestant Reformation of 16th century Europe and its ramifications today. “I was inspired to read it after listening to a lecture in my Life and Times of St. Vincent de Paul class,” said Michael Koss, a DePaul senior, majoring in English and Catholic studies. Gregory gives his readers an in-depth portrait of Martin Luther, a reluctant rebel in the ranks, and a detailed examination of the Reformation to explain how the events that transpired five centuries ago still resonate and influence us today. Gregory defines a secular society as “one in which religion would be separate from public life, becoming instead a matter of individual preference.” If religion in medieval society was more than religion, then religion in modern society had to become less than life. Gregory notes, “The Reformation is a paradox: a religious revolution that led to the secularization of society.”
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
If you feel like escaping reality, the Harry Potter books are perfect for you. Fantasy novels are full of mystery and magic, lessons about honor and contempt, love and loss and right and wrong. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the seventh and final novel of the Harry Potter series. It holds the Guinness World Record for most novels sold within 24 hours of release, with 8.3 million sold in the U.S. alone. Fans and critics alike were struck speechless by the novel, and its raw use of imagery left an impression not easily forgotten. It is not surprising that in 2008, the book won the Colorado Blue Spruce Book Award, and the American Library Association named it a “Best Book for Young Adults.”
The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano
This is a critically-acclaimed Italian novel that won Italy’s most coveted book prize, the Premio Strega in 2008. The Solitude of Prime Numbers shows how different struggles in life shape our everyday decisions and relationships, including friendships, among family, and between lovers. “People should read this book because it can help you discern your own life decisions,” said Aidan Morrissey, a DePaul freshman, majoring in real estate and business, who read the book five times. “In order to learn how love between any relationship can shape who you are. This book taught me that sometimes friends are not meant to last.” The book is about two characters, Mattia and Alice, who are misfits and are destined to be alone. Haunted by their traumatic childhood experiences, they find in each other a similar, damaged spirit. The novel describes their lives together from how they met in grade school to their days growing up with and without each other.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
This book is considered an all-time classic, and in 1998 was voted to be the 20th century’s best English-language novel by the Modern Library. Inspired by many parties he attended, Fitzgerald decided to create in his words, “something new — something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned.” The story is about a young millionaire Jay Gatsby, who is passionately in love and obsessed with the beautiful former debutante Daisy Buchanan. The book has been adapted in a number of mediums, such as ballet, computer games, literature, opera, radio and theater. The Great Gatsby also has a number of film and television adaptations, the latest being in 2013 with Leonardo DiCaprio starring in the main role. This is a story about love and success, complicated relationships and the hardships people face. “It is my favorite book of all the time because it has such a tragic love story built through the book, as well as how the story line is put well together,” said Francesca Santelli, a freshman at DePaul studying business management. She read the book multiple times, and every time it left her speechless and yearning for more.
Header illustration by Jenni Holtz