Name the Last Book You Read

Name the Last Book You Read

by Susan Neuhalfen

What was the last book you read? More importantly, when?

It seems hard to believe but 33% of high school graduates will never read a book after high school and 42% of college students will never read another book after they graduate.
It’s somewhat understandable. Lives get busy and some things get pushed aside.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that children learn from their parents. Actions, in many cases, speak louder than words. If we want our children to read, then we should lead by example. Ask yourself, do you read in front of your children or do you play on your phone?

The good news is that books—free books—are more easily accessible than ever thanks to the internet. It’s also easy to get audio books for those on the go who have trouble finding the time to actually sit and read. Here are a few examples of sites with books available at your disposal: Free to join with lots of classics including short stories, poetry and plays in addition to classic novels. They also add new books on a regular basis and the site is easy to navigate. They have book clubs and groups for discussion and readers can keep track of the books read.

Overdrive: With Overdrive, simply choose the library or libraries where you already have cards and enter the numbers. Check out electronic and audio books (up to 3 at a time) and enjoy. This is a great way to teach kids about the library by physically going and getting a card and then, if they want, they may check books out electronically as well. Book selections are not as limited as with other sites. has some independent authors mixed in with classics. Books are available in PDF, ePub, Kindle, TXT, MP3, iPhone, iPad and more. This is the Library of Congress site containing thousands of books as well as author webcasts, podcasts and more. There is a great deal of information about the writers, their backgrounds and all of the happenings at the Library of Congress. It’s a wealth of information.

Project Gutenberg has over 30,000 free ebooks for downloading. It has a wide variety of formats as well as languages. The database is easy to search and you can see the most popular downloads as well.

Librivox: Non-commercial, non-profit and ad-free, this is an audio book site where the books are read by volunteers. If you are confused as to which version to download, the last one is usually the best. These books are mostly classics and fun for review or first time listening.

This is only the tip of the iceberg as far as free book sites. However, most other sites are not entirely free, so navigate carefully.

Most of the free books on the internet belong to the public domain, meaning their intellectual properties are not protected. In some cases, authors release works directly into the public domain so that they may be freely accessed. Usually they are there because copyright has expired or was never protected in the first place, which is why many classic literature novels are readily available.

Don’t discount reading or re-reading a classic. There is much to be learned from classic novels. The Jungle illustrated the suffering of working immigrants at the turn of the century which prompted the creation of unions in the United States. Uncle Tom’s Cabin showed firsthand the struggles of African slaves in the southeast from Kentucky to Louisiana. Animal Farm is a political satire about the Russian Revolution as well as the Stalin era.

However, in the interest of getting readers back into the joy of reading, there are many modern books that are more suited to escapism and pleasure reading such as The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis by Anne Rice or even Golf Monster by Alice Cooper (very funny, by the way). There are also book series recommended such as The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo series, Jack Reacher, Alex Cross and Travis McGee. For both young and old there is Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and many, many others.

If you’re looking for more suggestions, lists the five favorite books of many famous people from JayZ to JFK. This organization was started in 2011, by two platoon leaders in Iraq who consulted other leaders in the military and distributed book lists to soldiers based on their recommendations. They decided to expand that to include other influential people. Today they donate books to soldiers across the globe based on the recommendations and generosity of donors.

Teach your children well. One night a week, skip a television show or movie and invite the entire family to join you for some quiet time, each with his or her own book. A new family time tradition might instill the joy of reading in your children.

Some recent books suggested by area book clubs and avid readers:
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Other classic books that are worth reading or re-reading:
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

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