As college students, it’s tough to find spare time to read for pleasure between homework, midterms and term papers. The Emerald has enlisted its writers to recommend their favorite books they managed to read released in 2016.

But What If We’re Wrong? By Chuck Klosterman

Chuck Klosterman is the type of person who can change your perception of a lifetime of thinking with a single sentence. He’s an intellectual who seemingly can debate any topic for hours with encyclopedic accuracy. Klosterman is a renowned pop culture writer, and for But What If We’re Wrong? he has moved onto bigger topics including physics, how literature and rock ‘n’ roll will be remembered in the future and why being wrong is sometimes more important than being right. This book displays Klosterman’s range as a writer and as a thinker; he can make an argument about the merit of Guns n’ Roses’ album Appetite For Destruction as he can for why the way we think about gravity is likely going to be proven wrong by future generations. Does that mean the world we are living in is a lie? — Craig Wright

Look by Solmaz Sharif

Solmaz Sharif had a busy year. With her reading schedule — which included a stop at the University of Oregon Knight Library — and her first full length book of poetry entitled Look being nominated for a National Book Award, she’s become a poet worth following. Sharif’s poetry is political, jagged and full of sharp line breaks. The poems in Look use words from the Department of Defense Dictionary (which takes normal words and redefines them in a military context) to talk about war and political turmoil. In Look‘s context, seemingly normal words become terrifying and surreal. With the election results and political unease extending into the foreseeable future, Look exemplifies 2016’s political arena in a book. — Sararosa Davies


The Romantics by Leah Konen

This young adult novel is an easy-to-read, quirky tale told through the point of view of an omniscient narrator: love. In a way similar to Cupid, Love is a character able to manipulate things to help Gael, the main character, find the girl he is meant to be with after he goes through a crushing breakup. Things take a twist when Gael starts to fall for the wrong girl and Love must do everything in her power to correct things. This silly, yet heartwarming book is perfect for rom-com lovers or anyone looking for a lighthearted read between textbooks. The concept of Love as a character is incredibly creative and makes for a story unlike any other. — Leanne Harloff



Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements by Bob Mehr

Admittedly, I am a bit biased towards this book. The Replacements have been my favorite band since I heard Let It Be in eighth grade, but author Bob Mehr’s in-depth biography of the Replacements, a Minneapolis punk band addicted to chaos, provides an unbiased look at the band’s greatest achievements and their crushing lows. With interviews from founding members Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson and manager Peter Jesperson among many others, this is the story of the Replacements. It is equal parts comedy, tragedy and drunken buffoonery, but in the end it leaves you with a newfound love for the people in the band and a sense of frustration about how they continuously managed to shoot themselves in the foot at every turn. For those who have never heard of the band, Trouble Boys shines an unflattering light on the rigors of touring and the dark side of fame like few books before it have accomplished.  — Craig Wright

Read the Emerald’s profile of Tommy Stinson here.

The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters

If you’re looking for a great local author, Cat Winters should grab your attention. Winters has written several historical fiction novels, but this story in particular causes readers to step into the past and fully immerse themselves in the time period. In the Steep and Thorny Way, Winters writes about Oregon in the early 1920s and perfectly captures the struggles of a young biracial girl as she deals with her father’s death. She will stop at nothing to find out the truth of whether  her father was accidentally killed or horrendously murdered. Winters tells a harsh and captivating story that brings to light the horrors of the Ku Klux Klan, the eugenics movement and the small town racism that was so prominent at this time in Oregon’s history. — Leanne Harloff


Night Sky With Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong

Vietnamese-American poet Ocean Vuong reads his work in a quiet whisper, but his poems are bold and unafraid. They are beautiful and brave works of writing that stand against an unkind world. Vuong’s latest release, Night Sky With Exit Wounds, is a book of poetic musings about identity and family, whether in the form of diary entry style poems about pubic hair, or in the vivid Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong, in which he writes,

“Don’t be afraid, the gunfire

is only the sound of people

trying to live a little longer. Ocean. Ocean,

get up. The most beautiful part of your body

is where it’s headed. & remember,

loneliness is still time spent

with the world.”

Night Sky With Exit Wounds reminds us of where we are headed after this unusual year. Vuong’s words echo and remind us that poetry’s relevance should continue to grow into 2017. He’s part of a group of younger poets who are making the art form accessible. Teen Vogue even said that he’s making poetry cool again. Sararosa Davies

Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen

The Boss finally released his autobiography, and it is every bit as interesting as we could have hoped for. Springsteen’s goal in Born To Run isn’t to give a rundown of how he wrote all of his songs; instead, he selects a few and talks more about the events that helped to shape his life as a whole. Most importantly, he said he wanted to show readers how his mind operates. He accomplishes this and tells of sleeping under the Jersey boardwalk to selling out the largest stadiums in the world. This book reveals the man behind some of the greatest songs ever written and is not an ego stroking exercise like many autobiographies. Much like his music, it is about the hard-working people who make the world turn — this time though, he’s telling his own story.



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