Elm Staff Writer
Whether in preparation for classes or simply for the passion of reading, it is a familiar sentiment across campus that narrowing down a favorite novel is a challenge.
“I read exactly 22 books over this last summer, so it’s hard to pick,” said Chesapeake Semester and Research Fleet Program Manager Benjamin Ford.
Ford, a self-proclaimed “sci-fi and fantasy nerd,” cites “We are Legion (We Are Bob)” by Dennis E. Taylor as his most enjoyed book of the summer.
“Like all the best science fiction, it is mostly about people,” Ford said. “It’s a very fun, science- heavy, space adventure story that I’d recommend to anyone who wants to give their brain something else to eat … besides textbooks.”
In the realm of fantasy, junior Sarah Bowden grew fond of the classic Gothic horror novel, “Dracula,” by Bram Stoker.
“The first 50 pages were really scary, and I truly felt the sense of dread and imprisonment,” Bowden said of Stoker’s writing. His novel tells the story of a young lawyer and his journey to Count Dracula’s castle in Transylvania of Eastern Europe.
The 1897 novel is credited with starting the lore of vampire fantasy that has continued to flourish through present day, but the frightening creatures and dark imagery are not what drew Bowden to the novel.
“The vampire hunters were ride or die friends, and they really had each other’s backs no matter what,” Bowden said, citing that character arcs and their relationships were most memorable to her. “There was a female character who was really empowered and played an important role in the story. The guys valued her for her contributions and recognized how important she was … She was really dedicated to her husband but also dedicated to her career and that is really cool to see in an 1897 novel.”
If fiction is not your forte, sophomores Annalise Bush and Elizabeth Hay each have nonfiction recommendations.
Bush, an intern with the Eastern Shore Food Lab, read “Cultured: How Ancient Foods Can Feed Our Microbiome” by Katherine Harmon Courage. The book delves into the topic of fermentation and the idea of returning to how humans used to eat.
“My favorite part was all of the traveling the author did to research for the book,” Bush said. “She also included recipes that people can start with to begin feeling their gut microbiome in a better way.”
Meanwhile, Hay enjoyed “Timekeepers” by Simon Garfield, a collection of short essays and anecdotes that look at human’s perception and keeping of time throughout history.
Hay said, “It was interesting to think about different people or cultures around the world and how they interpret and record time and the impacts that has on daily life. I would recommend that book because it’s accessible. Even if you don’t like one of the chapters or stories, it spans different interests.”
Related to academics, senior Jillian Horaneck spent the summer reading “The Feminine Mystique” by Betty Friedan as part of her thesis research. The 1963 book is widely credited with beginning the second-wave feminism movement in the United States.
Horaneck, a political science and communications and media studies major with a concentration in arts and production, spoke of her interest in comparing second-wave feminists with modern third-wave feminists and the intertwining of the two trains of thought. She enjoyed the book for its relevance to modern times.
“It’s interesting what happened in the sixties because I think we’re going through a cycle right now, and knowing the roots and the history of where we came from is important. If we’re going to participate in something that’s currently happening, we should know what it sparked from,” said Horaneck.
Sophomore Emma Markus also found relevance in a 20th century novel.
“It is probably one of my favorite books ever. It is incredibly clever and beautifully written. As someone who likes kind of black comedy, I really appreciate it,” Markus said in reference to the fictional dark comedy “Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch” by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. The novel follows the birth of Satan’s son and the end of everything.
Markus said, “Given how hectic and chaotic the world at large is now, sometimes finding humor in what’s going on around us is very difficult. ‘Good Omens’ is a book about the literal apocalypse and it’s a very funny take on the end of the world. It still inspires hope and you’re able to find positivity and light in it and I think that’s a good message to get out.”