Each week, a Newsletter goes out to every subscribed member of Big & Mini. It’s full of important updates about our progress as a non-profit, any news articles we’ve been featured in or articles written by us, and little sprinkles of personality from the guy who writes it. That guy is Daniel Formella - a college student and history major at The Catholic University of America. When he perfects the entry of the week, he always includes fun things to do and new things to try. Each time he recommends three classic books to read in your free time, so I made a master list of every book he has recommended and decided to give you all teasers for six of them. Buckle up, if you’re looking for a good book to curl up with or a story full of deeper meaning, you’ve come to the right place.
Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoevsky
This is one of my favorite books that I read in high school. It’s told from the perspective of a pessimistic murderer. Sounds fun, I know. Basically, he struggles with moral right and wrong as he goes through the steps to cover up a double homicide and continue about his daily and very normal life. Yes, he does think about murder, but he also thinks about paying bills and doing his laundry just like the rest of us. It is interesting that he can have friends and live life just the same and still have this inner monologue justifying a horrific act. The book explores questions of purpose, justice, and guilt, but, heads up, because the book is a Russian novel, many of the names can be confusing. Despite that, I would still very strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in law or psychology.
Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
This one is for the kids… This is a classic book and movie that most of the people in my life had read or seen by a young age. It’s the story of a pig named Wilbur who gets to learn about friendship, change, struggle, and loss through the winding journey of growing up. He makes friends in a girl named Fern and the other animals in his small barn society. Children are able to relate to the innocence and joy found in this story because of the cute barn setting and animal characters. Each pig, rat, spider, and horse brings something to the table and communicates an important theme that might give a child a new perspective on the world without them even knowing it.
Tuesdays with Morrie - Mitch Albom
This book is less of a classic and more of an interview style story that delves into topics that are usually avoided in polite conversation. It discusses life and death, family and loss, and friendship and choices. The novel is full of insight from a college professor diagnosed with ALS and facing his last days. When read, this book makes the reader look at the world through new lenses. It makes people value the time we have in this life and the small blessings that have been given to us. If you have an interest in deep talks about the meaning of life and the purpose that we each try to find in our daily routines, this book may allow you to reevaluate the importance of the insignificant repetition of life.
Persuasion - Jane Austen
Despite being published in 1817, the characters and themes within these pages transcend time. Out of the six books in this list, this is easily the most relaxing and lighthearted. It follows a single woman in her twenties named Anne Elliot as she manages to begin running in the same circles as someone she used to know. That someone is none other than Frederick Wentworth - a naval captain that she had fallen in love with seven years prior only to be persuaded out of marrying him because of his poverty and possibility of failure. Although those things never bothered Anne, they bothered the people that attempted to control her in her youth, leading to a decision that she would later regret. Now that he is back in her life after seven years of silence, the two begin a novel-long dance of subtle and humorous exchanges that might lead to something more. I would definitely save this recommendation for a rainy day.
The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
Hands down, my all time favorite classic novel I have ever read is this masterpiece of imagery and symbolism. These pages are full of reoccurring objects, colors, and places that all mean something more than your first impression. The book follows a man named Jay Gatsby who lives a gauche lifestyle in 1920s America full of parties, butlers, and big houses all to impress a married woman named Daisy. In his mind, his life is not complete without Daisy, and nothing matters if she is not a part of it. So he moves into the house across the lake from her and throws parties grand enough for her to see so that one day his mansion full of life will be alluring enough to lead her to come over. This is a cautionary tale of idealism and resistance to change that can leave the reader dumbfounded at the end. If you’re looking for a colorful and entertaining book of wonder and symbols, this is easily the best recommendation I can give you!! Also, it doesn’t hurt that the movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio.
Lord of the Flies - William Golding
Okay, heads up, this book hurts a little bit. It follows a group of English children who get stranded on an island alone. They must survive during their time there without succumbing to the environment or succumbing to their inner animal. They live without society and structure, meaning they struggle to find a balance between working together and the every-man-for-himself mentality. Each day is a challenge with a sprinkle of innocence. And if that’s not enough, each of them must fight their own urge to go crazy in the isolation from the world (sound familiar). While this story isn’t a light and happy story, it brings up important ideas of survival and society reflected in the innate tendencies of humanity.
That’s it for this book list! But don’t worry, part two of Daniel’s recommendations can be found in the next week when we put out his favorite movies!