Books Life + Arts

Eight winter must-reads to check out over the break

Gwyneth Gravador/The Cougar

As the winter break approaches, now is a great time to take advantage of the free time and catch up on reading.

Students can gear up to unwind, recharge and delve into the magic of literature with this list. Whether you’re a fan of fantasy, romance, historical fiction, nonfiction or contemporary works, there’s a book for every taste.

“The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes” by Suzanne Collins

With the resurgence of popularity for the Hunger Games world, many have revisited classics or delved into the series for the first time. 

This book is set in the 10th annual Hunger Games, focusing on the backstory of the character Coriolanus Snow, who is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. 

It was voted as the second book of the month by the UH Book Club Society.

“Yellowface” by R. F. Kuang

Author of the renowned “The Poppy War” series, a historical military fantasy, Kuang ventures into literary fiction.

“Yellowface,” a satire of racial diversity in the publishing industry, explores the metafiction about social media, specifically X, formerly known as Twitter. It is amongst the 100 Must Read Books of 2023 designated by TIME Magazine. 

“Divine Rivals” by Rebecca Ross

“Divine Rivals” was the winner of the 2023 Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction at the GoodReads Choice Awards.

It became a massive TikTok sensation, with its fresh and new fantasy world that featured vengeful gods, the horrors of war and the power of love. It is centered around Iris Winnow and Roman Kitt who forge a connection through letter writing. 

It was voted as the third book of the month by the UH Book Club Society.

“Normal People” by Sally Rooney

Published in 2018, this book experienced a round of popularity from the limited series drama created for the BBC.

Rooney uses the characters Connell and Marianne to explore the complex reality of relationships, the subtleties of class, and the passion that comes with first love in brilliant and moving prose. She is also author of another novel titled “Conversations with Friends,” which also received high praise. 

“Normal People” was voted as the fourth book  of the month by the UH Book Club Society.

“Better Than The Movies” by Lynn Painter

For romance lovers, this book is a rom-com that talks about rom-coms.

It follows Liz Buxbaum, a hopeless romantic teen, who attempts to secure a happily-ever-after moment with her longtime crush but finds herself drawn to Wes Bennet, the boy next door and her nemesis. 

A second book following the story of Liz and Wes, titled Nothing Like the Movies, is set to be published on January 1, 2024.

“The Secret History” by Donna Tartt

Originally published in 1992, this book is great for fans of dark academia and mystery.

It follows a group of clever and eccentric misfits at a New England college who are part of a secret Latin society under their charismatic classics professor.

The situation takes a sinister twist as it transcends the limits of conventional morality. Slowly, they slide from mere obsession to corruption and betrayal, ultimately descending into the realm of evil.

“Some People Need Killing” by Patricia Evangelista

This book was ranked as the No. 1 best nonfiction book of 2023 by TIME Magazine. 

Evangelista, a renowned journalist, uses this memoir to tell the harrowing stories of the Philippines’ state-sanctioned killings of its citizens. It is rooted in a conversation with a vigilante who made such a declaration: “Some people need killing.”

“How to Say Babylon” by Safiya Sinclair

This book was ranked as the No. 6 best nonfiction book of 2023 by Time Magazine. 

Raised in Jamaica as a child, Safiya Sinclair navigated the stringent rules imposed by her Rastafarian father. Despite these constraints, the author took it upon herself to explore alternative lifestyles and found the courage to defy these norms using her voice.

In her memoir, Sinclair recounts her tumultuous journey into adulthood, grappling with the realization that the traditions ingrained in her upbringing were stifling. 

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