Book club

Final farewells from a graduate

Grace Schutte

More stories from Grace Schutte

May 10, 2023

Photo by Delia Brandel

I don’t want to hear it, reader. I don’t. Don’t say anything about this being the last Book club article I will ever write. I would rather not think about it. 

But, I’m being forced to. 

This weekend I began the arduous process of going through my things — you know the drill — putting everything I own into one of three piles: keep, donate and trash. 

Miraculously, I was able to fill an entire bag of books that I’ll be dropping off at BAM sometime before I graduate. But even then, the winding stacks that make up the walls of my apartment are still towering. 

This isn’t the first time I’ve been forced to “slim down” my collection, and something this process has taught me is that there are certain books I refuse to part with.

There are many I can’t let go of. So many that I’ve categorized them for you. The following are titles you will have to pry out of my cold, dead hands. 

The glory days: high school

While I hated reading “The Grapes of Wrath” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” as much as the next person, there were a few books — five, to be exact — that I am taking with me to the grave. 

Night” by Elie Wiesel is first. It’s also one of the first books I read in my freshman honors English class. There are many firsts associated with it, and it is precious to me.

I’ve talked about “Mythology” by Edith Hamilton and “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley before, so don’t be surprised to find them on the list. But, “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien and “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde have also made it. 

I will be bringing these specific editions down with me, because I annotated them for my AP Literature class — I’ve come a long way by means of annotations.

The hell in the glory: college

I’ve lost count of all the books I’ve read for my myriad of English classes over the last four years, but here are the highlights. 

I could talk for hours about “Her Body and Other Parties” by Carmen Maria Machado — I won’t because I’ve already written an article about this masterful short story collection, but if you haven’t read it yet, get on that, ASAP. 

Go read everything by Audre Lorde right now, especially “Zami: A New Spelling of My Name.” Lorde was such an incredible person, and everything she said and wrote is so very relevant to today — it’s just irresponsible not to read her work. 

Sorry, I don’t make the rules. 

Next is “The Night Watchman” by Louise Erdrich. I learned so much about Ojibwe culture — way more than I have in any history class. Read this. Learn about Indigenous people and their experiences. 

Up next is another collection of short stories by author Karen Russell. While I haven’t read every story in “Vampires in the Lemon Grove,” I have read that one and “Reeling for the Empire,” both of which I loved. 

Russell’s writing is weird — I don’t know how else to describe it. She often takes mythical or seemingly foreign ideas and makes them strange — hard to read, even — but she does it in a way that reveals truths about human nature in a way I haven’t seen before. 

Lastly, there’s “Lincoln in the Bardo” by George Saunders. This is one of the wackiest books I’ve ever read, and I highly recommend you check out the audiobook. 

(Some short story honorable mentions are “Lucky Dragon” by Viet Dinh, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” by Raymond Carver and “Can You Say… ‘Hero’?” by Tom Junod.)

I wish I could say more, but I’m running out of words — and time, as always. 

Fun fiction

Finally, here’s list of books I’ve read for the fun of it that I’m keeping with me always:

I wish I had time to pour my heart out for you all and articulate the power of books and reading and how important it is to learn about other people and their experiences, but you already know that. 

And now there’s nothing else to do but sign off. So, in the words of the great Leonard Cohen, goodbye old friends. Endless love. See you down the road.

Schutte can be reached at [email protected].