The New York Times has a weekly installment called “By the Book” which is a series of questions and answers about the reading habits of notable writers. This chapter features student Eva Mazzola ’21.
What books are on your nightstand?
Currently I am reading The Blackwater Lightship by Colm Toibin. It is set in 1990s Ireland and explores a family taking care of a relative who has AIDS. It is definitely on the more serious/sad side but a great read to understand more on the topic!
What book did you love best when you were a child?
My favorite book when I was younger was Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. I found myself re-reading the series multiple times throughout elementary and middle school, getting lost in the adventures of a kid who was almost my age.
Have your reading tastes changed over time?
When I was younger I used to love reading fantasy and adventure novels; I found that I enjoyed getting lost in the stories and myths. Now, I prefer books with real life consequences that don’t always have a happy ending. I have recently been reading many novels with themes around the AIDS epidemic.
What was the last great book you read?
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai. I actually read this for an English project, but it did not feel like work. Makkai artfully intertwines two timelines (one set in the 80s and another in present day) and balances the grief and despair caused by the AIDS crisis with relatable and personable characters.
Has a book ever brought you closer to another person – or come between you?
Yes! My best friend from home and I constantly share book recommendations. Whenever I come home from school, we go on walks to talk about what we have read and discuss our favorite characters, plot points, themes, etc.
Which book should everyone read before they graduate from high school?
While this may sound a bit cliché, I think everyone should read The Great Gatsby before they graduate high school. When Mr. Frey first handed out the book in class, I was skeptical. But, I fell in love with the lovely descriptions and detailed characters. I think that Gatsby can really change a young readers mind on what type of books they enjoy.
What do you plan on reading next?
I plan on reading Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife, which is essentially the history of the number zero. Although this is out of my usual realm of literature choices, I read about this biography in an article about “books to read before you die.” While there were the classics, like Great Expectations or 1984, this one stood out to me because I had never heard of it.