This summer, instead of allowing your brain to turn to complete
mush, (a sensation which I for one have experienced during many
summers) why not pick up a book and give your brain the exercise it
needs to stay in shape for fall semester?
One great summer read is “Invisible Man,” by Ralph Ellison.
“Invisible Man” is an exceptional novel, but it is not, as might be
inferred from the title, a work of science fiction. Rather, it is a
book that tells the story of a black man’s struggle for personal
identity and societal acceptance during a time of blatant and
widespread racism. This novel, written in 1952 and set sometime
during the years following the Great Depression, is worthy of your
The narrator begins his tale with the assertion that he is an
invisible man and then traces a series of events and experiences
that lead to realization of his invisibility. His journey toward
self-actualization begins in the South. When he arrives, he is
blind to the racism that surrounds him and does not realize his
place as an black person in a prejudiced society.
After a few diverse jobs, he encounters an organization called
the “Brotherhood,” a fusion of Caucasian and black people bonded
together in the fight for social change. The Brotherhood gives the
narrator a new identity and hires him to make speeches in Harlem.
Throughout the novel, the narrator is in an ongoing state of change
as he is handed new identities, which he must adopt.
Ellison’s first and only completed novel, at close to 600 pages,
engages the reader throughout. As a rather fast and satisfying
read, it is a great choice for summer reading. “Invisible Man” is
rich with symbolism and metaphord, so that the Ellison’s essential
message and intent is clear, yet space is left for interpretation
and analysis. The book is likely to evoke a range of emotional
responses from its readers, but it promises to grab hold and not
let go for the duration. “Invisible Man” recounts experiences and
events that are certainly disturbing; however, this is among the
most profound and remarkable novels I have read.
Other recommended summer reading:
“White Oleander” by Janet Fitch
The story of one girl’s coming of age within the circumstances
of her mother’s imprisonment and constant moves from foster home to
“Junky” by William Burroughs
If you’ve ever wondered what it is like to be a heroin addict,
this novel will spell it out for you.
“Warrior’s Don’t Cry” by Melba Beals
A historical account of the integration of Little Rock’s Central
“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K Rowling
No, these novels are not just for kids! Pick up the first novel
and I guarantee you’ll be hooked.