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Best 2020 books to beat finals blues

Chris Charleston/ The Cougar

Students can take a break from their screens and finals stress with one of these four books that garnered public attention in 2020. | File photo/The Cougar

With classes going fully remote after the Thanksgiving holiday and finals season gearing up, students may be spending even more time in front of a screen. 

The couple of weeks tucked between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be fraught with exam-induced stress. But preparing for finals is all about balance, not how many hours you sit and stare at your study materials on the computer.

One way to get out from behind your screens and take a well-deserved study break? Grab a good book. Here’s a list of four top reads from the past year to help you forget about the final you have in the morning. 

If you enjoy a good mystery, try “The Searcherby Tana French. 

In the 13 years since the release of her debut novel “In the Woods,” French has published seven books featuring her trademark complex mysteries and psychologically thrilling suspense. 

French’s latest offering also provides a good deal of suspense, but features settings and characters previously unseen in her work.

The story follows Cal Hooper, a retired police officer who moves to an Irish village in an attempt to find peace, an intention which is thwarted when he’s roped into the investigation to find a missing child. 

Her first book set outside of Dublin and the first with an American protagonist, “The Searcher” is a twisty crime tale where small towns harbor big secrets and the picturesque setting isn’t as idyllic as it seems. 

If you’re looking for something a little scarier, tryI’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid and then check out the Netflix original movie.

Reid’s twisty thriller hit shelves in 2017, but was thrust into the spotlight again this year with the release of the movie adaptation on Netflix.

Where do I even begin with this novel? There’s a sense of unease that permeates the narrative, even in the seemingly mundane moments. Jake’s unnamed girlfriend, who is considering ending their relationship, narrates the story’s creepy turns as the two travel to Jake’s parents’ farm for a visit. 

Reid crafts a narrative that keeps readers guessing until the final plot twist. Trust me, you won’t see it coming. And the movie will give you the heebie-jeebies all over again, featuring horror movie star Toni Colette, of “Hereditary” fame, in the role of Jake’s mother. 

If you’re a history buff, try “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontentsby Isabel Wilkerson. 

Pulitzer prize-winning author of the historical study “The Warmth of Other Suns”, Wilkerson returns to shelves with her extensively researched narrative about the invisible caste system operating in America.

Wilkerson posits that caste, the bestowal of certain advantages on the basis of rank within a societal hierarchy, manifests most in the treatment of Black Americans historically and in contemporary society. 

Lauded as “an instant American classic,” the nonfiction book considers how incorrect perceptions about race have impacted the country. As the United States continues a nationwide discourse on racial injustice, Wilkerson’s book offers a glimpse into the underpinnings of American life today.  

If you like graphic novels, try “Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki.

Yes, “Laura Dean” technically came out in 2019, but 2020 was its breakout year: the novel was named the Best Book for Teens and Tamaki was named the Best Writer at the 2020 Eisner awards – think the Oscars, but for comic books. 

Tamaki’s powerful writing meets illustrator Rosemary Valero-O’Connell’s beautifully drawn pages to tell the story of Frederica Riley as she weathers an on-again, off-again relationship with Laura Dean, a popular girl that Freddy thinks is her dream girl. 

Although high school is in the rearview mirror, the story carries the nostalgic emotional power of two people trying to figure out first love.  

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