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The book all of Colgate's Class of 2021 should read

alexgzm 5 / 17 9  
Jan 4, 2017   #1

I would love to get some comments and feedback on this supplement essay for Colgate University.

The prompt for the essay is: Colgate's core curriculum teaches students empathy, informed debate, and critical thinking. Please tell us what book or piece of literature you believe is important for the entire Colgate Class of 2021 to read. Why?

(250 words or less)

"The Shadow of the Wind", by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

I read this novel two summers ago and it hasn't left my mind. Despite being almost 600 pages long, I finished it in under two nights.

It's about Daniel, a kid from Barcelona who falls in love with a novel he finds at the "Cemetery of Forgotten Books", but when he starts looking for more works from the same author, he discovers that someone has burned all the copies of the author's books, except for the one he owns. This drags Daniel into a quest to find the author, but during his mission he will also discover a hidden world of secrets, murder, and love.

This is the book the 2021 Class should read because it promotes love for literature, something I believe our generation has forgot in the past years. Even though it presumes to be a regular novel, its unique value stands within the message given by Ruiz Zafón: a book can be a life-changing experience, therefore, we should never deny ourselves the opportunity to be immersed by a book.

Maybe it was just my experience, although I doubt it, but this book changed my perspective on literature. With the author's idea that not necessarily all the best books are written by the best-selling, famous writers; I understood there are lots of great minds who come unnoticed and it's in us to discover them.

This book will undoubtedly promote passion for broad learning to new Colgate students.

Thanks for the help!

Holt [Contributor] - / 9,034 2722  
Jan 4, 2017   #2
Alex, while I agree with you about the need for students to start reading more books. The discussion that you presented does not follow the criteria set out by the university regarding the type of books that they recommend to the students for literary enlightenment. Your book does not engage the student in an intellectual debate, nor promote critical thinking among those who will have read the book. Unless you can discuss which portions of the book directly relate to those 2 criteria, the book you chose will be nothing but an irrelevant source of fiction. The book that normally fits in this prompt is a non fiction book.

Regardless of who wrote the book, the suggestion of the reading material that comes from you has to accomplish a number of things. First, it has to have an interesting premise for discussion among a group of readers. Second, the writer has to have the ability to spark a debate based upon his beliefs as espoused in his book. Finally, it has to be intellectual in the sense that it will teach the reader about something that he may not learn in the classroom.
OP alexgzm 5 / 17 9  
Jan 4, 2017   #3

As always thanks for the comments, I followed your suggestions and chose a different book. I went with the 1932 novel "Brave New World", hope you can tell what you think of this one:

"Brave New World", by Aldous Huxley

My former history teacher recommended me this book last year, and it has completely changed my perception of modern society.

Even though it was written over 80 years ago, the dystopian world created by Huxley seems closer to our society than ever. Although the part about artificially designing people hasn't become a reality, most of the characteristics of his fictional world have. He created a society in which people are compelled to be passive thanks to all the amusements and distractions the government offers, similar to what I believe is happening nowadays.

With this book, Huxley critiques what the world was becoming in 1930, but most of what he critiqued has become our reality. We've become a passive society that isn't controlled solely by repression or censorship, but also by our own laziness. In his envisioned world, the government didn't need to censor or hide anything since most of the people had no interest in politics, they were too distracted by the entertainment and amusements the government provided, to even pay attention to the problems that arose.

I believe this is the book the 2021 Class should read because not only is it a great way to reflect on what our society is slowly becoming, but also because it kindles a discussion of whether we are becoming a passive society thanks to social media and technology, or if it's actually helping us be better informed citizens because of the easy way to share information.
Holt [Contributor] - / 9,034 2722  
Jan 5, 2017   #4
Alex, there is no need to tell the reviewer who recommended the book to you. All that is important is that you have a book to recommend. In paragraph one, you mention that there is a parallelism between the book and our current society. You need to quantify that statement by offering examples of the similarities you see. The idea, is to show the reviewer that you can spark a debate or analysis of the book topic based on commonalities. In order to create this strong presentation, you will need to revise your opening paragraph to include the examples. I know you already have 250 words in this essay so the best way to address the necessary information addition is by revising one part of the essay. Just revise the opening statement and leave the other paragraphs as is. Those will serve to be the supporting discussions from your point of view.
OP alexgzm 5 / 17 9  
Jan 5, 2017   #5
Thanks a lot! I'll make sure to do that.

And thank you for all your help with the essays I've been submitting, you have really been of invaluable help for me during this stressful process.


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