Mid-Semester Reads

Once the stress of the semester kicks in, reading can go from a pleasurable pastime to simply unbearable. From countless textbook chapters to academic articles, binging Netflix seems to be the better alternative for shutting off your brain. However, if you’re still looking for an enjoyable read, here are some quick and engaging reads that’ll take your mind off your course load. 


  1. Hands forming the shape of a heart

    Trigger Warning: Rape

    A book that embodies the definition of a classic and tells a moving story with sloppy grammar, witty syntax and raw emotion. A tale about young Celie, a young black girl living in the poverty-stricken deep South who was repeatedly raped, lost two children to *something*, and was separated from her sister, Nettie. Now trapped in an ugly marriage, it is through the fabulous Shrug Avery that Celie learns where her strengths lie and how to use them. And, most importantly, that love can blossom for anyone.

    This novel holds a compelling story but is still a short, easy-to-read page turner- exactly what every college student needs. This book is perfect for those who are studying literature, history, African-American studies or women’s studies, just to name a few.

    Similar books according to Goodreads are Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Secret Life of Bees, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.


  2. The Goodreads Choice 2015 Winner, The Nightingale is set in France during World War II. In her quaint, picturesque village, Vianne Mauriac’s world is turned upside-down as her beloved husband is sent to the frontlines to fight and the Nazi’s  wreak havoc in her neighborhood. As she tries to shield her daughter from the destruction and starvation surrounding them, Viane is forced to bring the enemy into her home and pray he doesn’t learn of her secrets.

    As Vianne is forced to sit still, surrounded by the enemy, her wild, eighteen-year old sister Isabelle takes matters into her own hands. As she throws her trust and passion into one man and his dangerous plan to fight the Nazi’s from inside France. But once betrayed, Isabelle continues to push the boundaries further into danger by joining the Resistance and never second-guessing or looking back.

    Though longer than what most would consider a “quick read”, it is the perfect mix of historical fiction, suspense and a tinge of mystery. Filled with characters who never do what you expect, this book will consume you. Not to mention it has two, though very different, equally daring female protagonists. If you are majoring in history or creative writing, you’ll get much more out of this read. Perfect for readers who love fast-paced historical fiction works.

    Similar books according to Goodreads are Before We Were Yours, Orphan Train and The Help.


  3. burning polaroid

    Another Goodreads Choice Winner, Little Fires Everywhere will make you think twice about any seemingly flawless suburban town. Thriving in this perfectly planned town is mother-of-four Elena Richardson who, not only plays by the rules of her town’s society, but expects everyone else to do the same. But it’s single mother Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl who create a spark within Richardson's circle. Despite Elena’s own children being intoxicated by Mia’s mysterious and artsy aesthetic, she grows more and more suspicious of Mia’s intentions and rebellion for life in Shaker Heights. And nothing upsets Elena more than when she suspects Mia of meddling in the adoption of a white couple and a Chinese baby- a couple who is close friends with Elena. But the more Elena tries to destroy Mia’s life, the more her own begins to crumble.

    This book will easily replace any television drama you may be watching. Packed with intriguing and inherently flawed characters, no story-line in this will end as picture-perfect as Shaker Heights itself. A read many modern-creative writing majors would enjoy. Also, this book is soon being released as a mini-series in March, 2020; so be sure to read before you binge!

    Similar books according to Goodreads are Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, The Woman in the Window and The Silent Patient.


  4. José Andrés has a superpower- the power to feed the masses. So when he arrived at the beautiful island of Puerto Rico to find it with no power, no communication system, no gas, no clean water and no food a few days after Hurricane Maria, he immediately got to work preparing hot meals. What began in what was left of Andrés friend, Jose Enrique’s, restaurant kitchen quickly grew to Andrés and his team cooking over 100,000 hot meals a day from more than a dozen kitchens scattered across Puerto Rico. But amidst this moving story about community and the power of food is the uncovering of a system built on unjust politics and unhelpful charities and NGOs.

    This book is the perfect read for college students because it educates in a clear, concise and enjoyable way (something textbooks never accomplish). Though a true story, the people highlighted in the book will bring you life as their characters shine through despite the rubble surrounding them. For liberal arts and political science majors, this book will change your view on countless systems.

    Similar books according to Goodreads are Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen and The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Storeis of Courage and Resiliance.

  5. There are doctors standing in the hallway of a hospital.

    Imagine waking up strapped to a hospital bed with no memory and no way to communicate? No, this book isn’t a thriller, but it is a horror story and mystery. Twenty-four-year-old New York Post journalist Susannah Collins went from successfully climbing the career ladder and the start of a long-term relationship to being labeled “violent” and “psychotic” in a New York City hospital. Read this best-selling memoir to learn how both medical-miracle Susannah and her family struggled to, not only communicate with the raging fire in her head, but to the doctors who were ready to quit on her. 

    What started out as her first article back from her month-long medical leave turned into a memoir that altered, not just Susannah’s life, but the medical industry’s as well. Though the book can be dense at times, it is sure to change your outlook on family dynamics and the working of one’s brain and hospital. And, as college students, this book is easy to relate to. If you are majoring in journalism or are pre-med (or anything in the medical and science field), you’ll further appreciate this read.

    Similar books according to Goodreads are A Child Called “It” and Becoming.


  6. All she wanted was a right to be educated and she got shot in the face- literally. This is the story of how a young girl’s near-death experience skyrocketed her call for support in educating girls alongside their male peers. At 15, she was lying in a hospital with little chance of surviving and by 16, she was the youngest person to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Of course, a journey as powerful and terrifying as this can only be told by the girl who lived; her name is  Malala. 

    It’s the you-have-to-read-it-to-believe-it harrowing true story that still has an incredible impact on readers. It’s hard for readers to wrap their heads around the amount of strength that can be mustered by someone recently hospitalized, but Malala makes every impossible situation, easily  possible. For college students who choose this as their next read, you will learn to both appreciate the education you’re receiving while also learning that what you strive for in life does not come easy. For those majoring in women and gender studies; ethics, peace, and human rights; or peacebuilding, this book is sure to peak your interests. 

    Similar books according to Goodreads are The Diary of a Young Girl and Unbroken.


These reads are the ideal combination of keeping your brain active while not having it feel like required work. Binging Netflix, though something we all succumb to, can leave you feeling sluggish and unproductive. But books like these are just as good as your Netflix show and can leave your mind a little sharper.