Friday, June 6, 2014

Summer Reading List (no picture books, unfortunately)

I am terrible at reading. It is not that I cannot actually read, otherwise it would be a miracle that I can write this whole sentence with correct punctuation. The issue lies with my inability to stay focused on a piece of literature long enough to actually get to the last page. It's either my short attention span, or the large amount of work that comes with the school year. So every summer, when boredom rolls around, I make a short reading list, consisting of three to four books that deal with my personal interests, academic-related content, reading material for debate, or books that are currently being adapted to a television show on HBO (a fairly obvious selection). I read as many as possible before I eventually flake and go back to playing video games. Regardless, here is my reading list for the summer. Feel free to steal one of my choices for your own summer list.
File:Machiavelli Principe Cover Page.jpg
Title page of a 1550 page of The Prince 

The Prince, by Niccolò Machiavelli

Considered to be one of the first works of modern philosophy, The Prince continues to be one of the most influential pieces of literature among academics, students, and political enthusiasts in the contemporary era. Written by Niccolò Machiavelli and published in 1532, The Prince evaluates the role of leadership and rule within a political society, and determines that the aims of princes--such as glory and survival--can justify the use of immoral means to achieve those ends. It is one of the earliest depictions of political and societal realism, and is a must read for any political science, history, and philosophy students during their time within academia.     

Resistance, Rebellion, and Death, by Albert Camus 

Last summer, I managed to finish a whole book on my summer reading list (this is a huge accomplishment for me). Unfortunately, finishing the book caused me to have a minor existential crisis, a common effect of reading The Stranger by Albert Camus. Considered to be one of the greatest authors of all time, French Nobel Prize winning author, journalist, and philosopher Albert Camus' heavy contribution to 20th Century literature revolutionized what we now know as absurdism and existentialism. His next work on my list is Resistance, Rebellion, and Death, a collection of essays published in 1960 that covers themes such as freedom, rebellion, capital punishment, totalitarianism, and others that are common centerpieces within political science, history, and philosophy discussions. A good read if you feel like thinking real deep and stuff.

The Nine, by Jeffrey Toobin

Sandra Day O'Connor, former Supreme Court Justice
who plays a large role in The Nine
Jurisprudence is a tricky subject; only a select few can stomach its intricacies, and even fewer do not find it horrendously boring. Within this study of the law and its evolution lies a continuing conversation regarding the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court, and how its ruling pattern has changed throughout its existence. While most Constitutional Law courses you take in your undergraduate career will cover relevant cases, not often is there a hyper-specific look into the lives and careers of the Supreme Court Justices within the contemporary era. Toobin's The Nine profiles the justices of the United States Supreme Court within the past sixty years, discusses the function of the institution during an important era of social equality and justice, and how the jurisprudence of the branch and its members has changed over the years. It takes a specific look to the conservative revolution that took place within the court after the 1973 ruling of Roe v. Wade, and the key players that created permanent change to the bench, and what those changes mean for society in our current era. A great read for those who crave C-Span and watching old people deliberate on subjectively important matters.

A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R. R. Martin

Among fans of the popular HBO show Game of Thrones, I fall into the category of "non-book readers." That means all of the incredibly surprising, gut-wrenching events the show throws at me are completely unpredictable. Because this book series has been around since 1996, spoilers for the show are fairly common, and the guilty party is often someone who read all the books before the show started and ruin it for the non-book readers. Well, I am personally tired of the spoilers, and I know that they will inevitably continue so long as Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit continue to exist. So, to avoid the painful process of avoiding spoilers week-by-week, I decided that once Season Four of the show ends (two episodes remaining), I will try to read the books (again, like, for the fourth time).

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