zealous reads

13 Zealous Reads You’d Be Silly to Skip

Image by Freddie Marriage.

Ah, September. Something about this month feels like the start of a new year. September is the time for lists, for new things, for a fresh start. We may not be students anymore, but that won’t keep us from hitting the books!

At Zealous, we’re always looking for fresh perspective, for creativity, for innovation. We’re always looking to learn! Actually, even curating this list was a learning exercise. Takeaways: our Business Development team is surprisingly pensive, Community is three times its normal size (and reads too much), and now we know how Chema spends his weekends (*hint: Fight Club. He spends it at Fight Club).

(You’ll notice two new names on this list. Don’t worry, you’re not crazy – the Zealous team is growing! Very happy to welcome Aisling and Chris to the Zealous Community team. Wish them a warm welcome [and read their suggested books!])

What We're Reading

1. A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines – Janna Levin
A personal all-time favourite: Levin braids fictionalised accounts of early-20th century mathematicians Kurt Godel (founded the Incompleteness Theorem) and Alan Turing (cryptanalyst and father of artificial intelligence). Maybe I’m a little morbid (I’m definitely a little morbid), but I’m transfixed by Levin’s pivots between accounts of their deaths (Godel by starvation due to paranoia of being poisoned, Turing’s by cyanide poisoning undergoing “treatment” for homosexuality as an alternative to prison) are seamless. She injects humanness into history, arithmetic, ethics, war, and food for 230 pages. –Lauren

2. Doctor Faustus, Christopher Marlowe
One of my favourite plays—the subject matter never ages. The story of the ambitious apprentice seeking perfection in his craft is a well-established storyline that you could reapply to many different walks of life. Faustian traits are relevant to the stories of investment bankers and politicians that we see today—and correlations that make the play such a classic. –Henry

3. Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk
A delightful novel that I am currently reading and enjoying the differences between the movie and the book. A must to understand the hidden messages. The first rule of the Fight Club is… –Chema

4. The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt
This international bestseller is one of few books I have read that tugged on all my emotions. The Goldfinch offers a captivating insight into the life discoveries of a young New Yorker who, in the face of personal loss, wanders down a road of grief, isolation, love and discovery in modern America. Heart-wrenching and unpredictable with vivid scenes from the first page, it is a new personal favourite. –Aisling

5. The Good Immigrant, Nikesh Shukla
The author Tom Chatfield described The Good Immigrant better than I ever could. “Timely, beautiful, challenging, angry, fierce, tender. And it matters.” The Good Immigrant is one of the most powerful and exciting books I have read. It brings together fifteen emerging black, Asian and minority ethnic writers, poets, journalists and artists in a series of essays that explore race and immigration. What does it mean to be ‘other’ in a country that wants you, doesn’t want you, accepts you, and doesn’t accept you? –Chris

6.  Ham on Rye, Charles Bukowski
I’ve always enjoyed reading American literature, particularly related to the Depression Era. The pitfalls of the American Dream and its effects on people’s behaviour is something I have always found fascinating. This is my first Bukowski book—the writing style is unique but very engaging, I recommend it to anyone who enjoys something slightly different but poignant. –Henry

7. The Hollow of the Hand, PJ Harvey and Seamus Murphy
I highly anticipated PJ Harvey’s first poetry publication. The Hollow of the Hand is a reflective collection which arose from the pair’s travels to Afghanistan, Kosovo and Washington DC between 2011—2014. Harvey’s honest accounts are carefully interspersed with bleak yet beautiful photographs from Murphy’s extensive collection, created over two decades of capturing conflict in Afghanistan and Kosovo. This result of this collaboration is truly special and although a heavy read, it’s one that I regularly turn back to. –Aisling

8. In Praise of Shadows, Junichiro Tanizaki
When you want to feel inspired aesthetically. Peaceful. –Yukie

9. Ivanov, Anton Chekhov
I think I love Chekhov half for his work and half for his circumstances. Ivanov was a commissioned work and meant to be a comedy. Chekhov delivered a four-act drama (written in 10 days). His brevity and comedic (though sincere) self-loathing catches readers and audiences in a universe of misanthropes with shotguns, tuberculosis, and misplaced infatuation. –Lauren

10. Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka
Question your imagination and perspective. –Yukie

11. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman
I first read this book about three years ago, and it has haunted me ever since. It is a story of innocence, friendship and unexpected evil, as a middle-aged man revisits his hometown and is confronted with forgotten memories of his childhood. Menacing and magical, The Ocean at the End of the Lane captures what it means to be human: the childhood innocence, the overwhelming moments of fear, the helplessness. More novella than novel, this one is a quick read, which is why I recently squeezed it in for the third time. Maybe don’t read it before bed. –Chris

12. The Reader on the 6:27, Jean-Paul Didierlaurent
A definite page turner for when the studies are getting you down. A lovely story with some beautifully-written characters. –Henry

13. Under the Wheel, Hermann Hesse
A good read when you’re alone. –Yukie