Sometimes, it’s best to open a good book and immerse yourself into a fictional world to pass time. Here are the top ten must-reads for 2024.
1. “Shantaram” by Gregory David Roberts
“Shantaram” is a 944-page 2003 novel in which Roberts describes his experiences escaping an Australian prison to go live in Bombay in the 1980s. The book contains universal themes and life lessons such as how to deal with grief that are intertwined through vivid imagery of the author’s experiences with romance, black markets and the most influential mafia in Bombay. Roberts influences his community in a positive way, opening up slum clinics and helping supply weaponry during a time of political conflict. This book was turned into a live action series later on. Released in Oct. of 2022, the hour-long drama recounts Roberts’s experiences as described in his novel.
2. “Three Comrades” by Erich Maria Remarque
“Three Comrades” is a book situated in 1920s Berlin. The main character, Robert Lohkamp, lives his life jumping from bar to bar, playing piano and running an auto-repair shop with his two friends. While the three manage to get by, Lohkamp ends up falling for a woman of a higher class. Their love affair escalates with Lohkamp’s friends always making efforts and sacrifices to try and make things work. This goes on until Lohkamp faces great tragedy and loss, swallowed up by grief and the post traumatic stress caused by his experiences in WWI.
3. “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho
“The Alchemist” follows the tale of a young Andalusian shepherd, Santiago, who pursues his dream of finding a treasure of great value. On his journey, he connects with the people around him, learning from each experience. He encounters kings, fortune tellers, crystal merchants, caravans and villages on his journey to discover this treasure. This story teaches valuable life lessons about fate, love and wisdom which is why it’s world renown, topping bestsellers in 74 countries worldwide.
4. “Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah” by Richard Bach
“Illusions” is a philosophical novel about two main characters, a pilot and a retired messiah who acts as his mentor. The teacher, Donald Shimoda, is a messiah who quits his job after realizing that people would rather witness the performance of miracles rather than appreciate the sheer magic in them. His student, Richard, is a pilot who earns just enough money to support himself and his plane by taking people on rides. Throughout the book, Bach questions reality and people’s limits through the messiah’s teachings.
5. “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown
“The Da Vinci Code”, a 2003 mystery thriller novel, follows the story of symbologist Robert Langdon who is the lead suspect of a murder at the Louvre Museum. He works with cryptologist Sophie Neveu in uncovering the truth behind secret organizations like Opus Dei and the Priory of Sion. The two learn more about the corruption of the Catholic church, Da Vinci’s works and the mysterious death of her grandfather. This novel explores interesting concepts about the Fibonacci sequence, a series of numbers created by adding the previous two, and Jesus’s lineage through colorful adventures packed with action. This book was also turned into a live action film later on.
6. “Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden
“Memoirs of a Geisha,” is a historical novel about traditional Japanese entertainment. It tells the story of Nitta Sayuri, a girl who parted with her family and started a life as a geisha, or female Japanese entertainment artist, in Kyoto, Japan, during WWII. The book immerses the reader in Japanese culture, showing the proceedings of okiyas, or geisha boarding houses, where young girls would learn the art of tea ceremony, dance, talk and the shamisen. Nitta Sayuri experiences the good, the bad and the ugly with rising rivalry, betrayal, romance and mentorship on her path to becoming one of the last and best geisha in all of Kyoto.
7. “A Moveable Feast” by Ernest Hemingway
“A Moveable Feast” is a light read written in the belles lettres, or beautiful writing style about Hemingway’s years in Paris. The author provides accounts of cultural figures of the Lost Generation, his favorite cafes and restaurants, his first marriage and his hopes for the future. The book is very short, but it creates a lasting impression of what Paris was like during the years of Interwar France.
8. “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” by Richard Bach
“Jonathan Livingston Seagull” is an allegorical fable about a seagull who wants to learn to fly for the sake of its beauty and not simple transportation. Bach creates a tale of personal reflection, freedom, skill-building and self realization through the portrayal of a seagull who cycles through multiple teachers, lives, worlds and heavens until he fulfills his purpose in leading others into a brighter future. The book reached number one bestseller in the 1970s when over a million copies were sold two years after its publication.