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  • UNITE Editorial

Three Books Worth Reading

Updated: Jan 8, 2020

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As J.K. Rowling once said, “If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.”. The right books are not easy to come by and by the time we have found the right one, our readings cell would have already grown stale and much less cease to exist. But do not fret not as we compiled some worthy book recommendations to help you out!

1. A Fraction Of The Whole (2008) by Steve Toltz [Drama]


Labyrinthian mazes, spoilt milk, a suicide bell, a million-dollar scheme, a string of murders, and Australia's most hated man-- everything seems to clash and come together in Steve Toltz's epic, A Fraction of The Whole.

The novel follows three generations of the Dean family through its 530 pages, including the delusional and misanthropic Martin Dean. And as much as the book rambles and whirls, dropping off peculiar side stories and philosophical rants here and there, it is never characterised by confusing chaos, but rather by breathless energy. It is pithy, hilarious, tragic, and tragically comedic.

A Fraction of The Whole is about everything from loneliness to the sound of cutlery, from strip clubs to well-written suicide notes. But more than anything, it is about family, and the way that family (dys)functions.

2. The Stranger (1942) by Albert Camus [Philosophy]


Originally published in French as L'Etranger, The Stranger tells the story of Meursault, a man who seems to see no value in ambition, passion, or any sort of chase for 'importance'. Thoroughly passive, Meursault 'floats' and allows life to unfold upon him-- until he commits a single, earth-shattering act. This act appears to be devoid of reason, and even Meursault himself cannot adequately explain why he did it. Consequences follow.

The Stranger is not a clear-cut ode to wider society and condemnation of Meursault. It explores the nuances of society and social attitudes towards him, including some interestingly misaligned priorities. Told from Meursault's point-of-view, his tone is at times fascinating, at times unnerving-- and always unreliable.

The Stranger is often touted as a brilliant novel of existentialist philosophy-- a label that is as contested as it is accepted. Nevertheless, it is a thoroughly philosophical novel, exploring repression, social dynamics, and what is -- or at least what we think-- it means to be human.

3. The Gene: An Intimate History (2016) by Siddhartha Mukherjee [Science]


The issue of genetics has always been a contentious topic. Since the rise and fall of the eugenics movement, it appeared, for decades, to become sealed off from public discussion. But scientific advances in our understanding of genes soldiered on. And now, with the almost futuristic promises made by CRISPR gene therapy, and popular tests like 23andMe, interest in the topic has reignited. And the timeless debate of nature vs nurture, which had always simmered in the backdrop, has exploded onto the forefront.

In this entertaining and accessible book, Mukherjee takes us through the history of the field of genetics, how genes work, its implications on society, and what that might mean for us. Don't let the genre of this book intimidate you-- Mukherjee explains scientific, technical concepts in surprisingly understandable terms. He also provides fascinating critiques of the way society treats and has treated the question of genetics, including a nuanced look into eugenics as a concept and movement, and a weigh-in on the nature vs nurture debate. This combination of scientific analysis and anthropological insight makes this book captivating for all readers, regardless of their background and interests. After all, genes affect- and are in- every single one of us.

With these book recommendations, we hope to have rekindled the bookworm in you! Let us know in the comments below if you have other book recommendations.

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