During quarantine, the IAHI staff have been keeping busy both in and out of the “office” by doing some much needed reading. We’ve compiled a list of our personal favorite books to read that keep us entertained and sane.

Today’s list is brought to you by Mimi Oluwafemi, a graduate research assistant at the IAHI and graduate student at the IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law. She graduates this spring!


1.    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
This is one of my absolute favorite books. It tells the story of Maya Angelou’s early years and it is written with one of the best narrative voices of our generation. It’s a novel about how important reading and education and self-expression can be to the human psyche. And of course, here we are in a pretty dark situation and turning to reading, so I think it fits pretty well.


2.Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
I was first introduced to the movie and then I found out that there was a book. I think it’s a fantastic story of how we essentially view others like characters on tv but not as actual human beings. The story of these five girls who have committed suicide is actually told by boys who watched and obsessed over them and imagined what their lives were like. But in the end, they never really know why they did it or what actually went on in their lives. They could only guess. And I think that’s very similar to how people view other people in general.


3.Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
I’m sure everyone read these poems in elementary school. However, they are also adult poems. The illustrations are whimsical and illustrative and meaningful all at the same time. There’s a depth to these short poems that make each one impactful and interesting and just a fantastic book of poetry.


4.Watchmen by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, and John Higgins
Literally the perfect graphic novel. The graphic novel to end all graphic novels. It was recognized in Time’s List of the 100 Best Novels of the English language. It has a crazy non-linear narrative, smart recurring symbolic motifs and is just a bad ass superhero murder mystery story in an alternate timeline.


5. Love in the Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
It’s the story of four sisters during the dictatorship of Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. Each of the sisters have very distinct personalities and paths in their lives and all of that is affected by what is going on in their country. I am biased to love this novel because I have three sisters and we are all headstrong and react to pressure and external stimuli differently. Also one of the middle sisters is headstrong and goes to law school and if that’s not me then I don’t know who is.

We hope you enjoyed this list! Stay tuned for more staff book picks!

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