Top Books for May

Our recommendations for May include: The comic series that inspired Marvel’s latest blockbuster Civil War, a recent Pulitzer Prize–winner about the rise of ISIS, an authentic look at contemporary Korean culture through the story of a missing mother, and an inspiring YA jam.

Civil War

Dave: Read the comics that inspired the movie with Marvel’s groundbreaking Civil War crossover event, in which the greatest heroes of the Marvel Universe must choose between Captain America and Iron Man in a conflict that could tear the world apart. The government has recently released the “Superhero Registration Act,” which would make non-sanctioned vigilantism a federal offense. Iron Man supports this act, and even goes so far as to act as the government’s enforcer, while Captain America opposes the act, forming a team of superheroes to fight in secret, free of the government’s control. 

Scribd’s collection includes tie-in comics from Spider-Man, Wolverine, X-Men, and Young Avengers, as well as the Road to Civil War prequel. They’re the perfect comics for anyone who is already a fan of the film adaptation, or for anyone interested in reading about the effects of Civil War on characters not included in the film. Have you ever wanted to see Wolverine fight Iron Man? Well, here’s your chance.

Black Flags

Alex: For anyone struggling to comprehend the grisly rise of ISIS, Joby Warrick’s new Pulitzer Prize-winning book is vital. Warrick traces ISIS’s beginnings to a Jordanian petty criminal who, after finding violent release in the most extreme strains of Islam, rose to prominence as a devotee of Osama bin Laden’s and founded a group that eventually outstripped even al-Qaeda in brutality and extremism. Abu Musab Zarqawi—known as the “sheikh of the slaughterers” by his followers—found in the chaotic aftermath of the US’s invasion of Iraq and Syria’s civil war an opportunity to launch a war of jihad in the name of founding a Sunni caliphate. Even after Zarqawi’s death in 2006, ISIS has continued to grow, and its control of large swaths of Syria and Iraq and claims of responsibility for several devastating incidents of terrorism across the world demonstrate its deadly reach.
Warrick breaks down the complex combination of factors that lead to ISIS’s creation without sacrificing nuance or narrative drive, resulting in an informative and gripping read. His analysis of the US’s errors in the Middle East demonstrates just how catastrophic the misjudgments of the military and the government can be. Black Flags is an especially significant read as we face electing our next president, who will have to contend with the complex threat of ISIS from day one.

Please Look After Mom

Zoe: What do you do when your mother goes missing? Take out an ad in the local newspaper, pass out flyers, scour the busy streets of the city? Kyung-Sook Shin tells this story through the perspective of a daughter, son, and husband, all frantically searching for the matriarch of their family, who went missing in a busy subway station in Seoul. 

As the family searches, a picture of their mother is painted through their memories of growing up as a poor family in rural post-war South Korea. Each family member’s memories provide a different piece of their mother and how much she has sacrificed for them. This novel is at once one family’s history and a window into contemporary Korean culture and life. Please Look After Mom is a stunningly heartbreaking and beautifully written look at how important family can be and the devastating effects of loss.

This Song Will Save Your Life

Ashley: Despite tackling many sobering issues like bullying and suicide, The Song Will Save Your Life delivers on the hopefulness of its title with plenty of heart, humor, and, of course, a cool track list. This transformation tale follows Elise Dembowski from her friendless days getting teased and pranked by her high school classmates to her wild nights as Glendale’s hottest up-and-coming DJ at a warehouse-turned-nightclub called Start. Elise tries to keep these identities separate so she can revel in the stardom of her nightlife, though inevitably the division between these lives crumbles. Author Leila Sales deftly deals with issues of public perception and personal identity, as Elise realizes, “Sometimes people think they know you. They know a few facts about you, and they piece you together in a way that makes sense to them. And if you don’t know yourself very well, you might even believe they are right. But the truth is, that isn’t you. That isn’t you at all.” At the end of the night, This Song Will Save Your Life ends on a highly inspiring note.

Also available in audio.

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