5 Fiction Books to Read this Semester

With no more football on the weekends, and syllabus week being over…what is there to do as a college student in your free time? Have no fear, a quality list of must-reads is here! You can curl up on Sunday mornings with a cup of coffee and your favorite fiction novel—or one of mine.

1. I am Charlotte Simmons

A novel by Tom Wolfe about a young woman newly introduced to the college life. Her small town upbringing leaves her unprepared for the tribulations of drunken hookups and uncompassionate professors. From hilarious, relatable stories to serious life lessons, this book is a must-read for any college student. 

2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (first book in the "Millennium" triology)

This book is the first in a crime/psychological thriller trilogy by Stieg Larsson, a Swedish author and journalist. This book/series is certainly not a light read; it includes gruesome, descriptive accounts of assault and rape, which are disturbing to say the least. However, the intense attention to detail in legal processes and government give readers much to think about when it comes to their own country’s legal processes. How many people are taken advantage of in society? How many injustices are hidden from the public eye? How far do we need to go to protect those people? This series is entirely fictional, but it addresses prevalent issues in society such as prostitution, corrupt guardianship systems, drug dealings, etc. An enticing novel that begs to the reader to think more deeply and better understand the world that we live in.

3. All the Light We Cannot See

This WII-based fiction novel by Anthony Doerr takes place in occupied France, and it follows the lives of two young adults and their families struggling during the time of war. This book, above all else, is about family and the trials and horrors of war. This book highlights the undermined hardships of life on the home front rather than the battlefront. This story tells of the tearing apart of families, of intense loss and grief, and of unanswered questions. However, as much as this book is about pain and loss, it is also about love and hope, and how hope can conquer even in the darkest of times. This book made me cry not because of sadness, but because of the intensely raw emotion it depicts. It is also a winner of the Pulitzer prize and was a New York Times Bestseller. 

4. Everyday

This is a young adult romance fiction novel by David Levithan, whose novels focus on adolescent experiences. He has also been known to collaborate with John Green (they co-wrote “Will Grayson Will Grayson;” also a good read). Although the writing isn’t very intellectually stimulating and it’s essentially a light read, the questions it provokes about love and sexuality are eye-opening. My personal experience while reading this included a better understanding of bi-sexuality and transgenderism. The main character wakes up in a new body every day, taking on the physical life of another person while retaining consciousness. This identity calls itself “A,” and doesn’t associate with a certain gender… because it doesn’t have one. Along the way, A falls in love. The relationship that grows because of this breaks down barriers of sexuality and societal roles. This is a good book for anyone who is interested in identify, supernatural phenomenon, love, and self-realization. Also, be sure to check out the companion book, "Another Day," which takes the perspective of A's love interest. 

5. A Thousand Splendid Suns

This book is written by the same author who wrote “The Kite Runner,” Khaled Hosseini. This novel follows the lives of two Afghan women with two very different upbringings, but who find their lives and fates intertwined. This book highlights the hardships women face in the middle east, and the resilience they muster against their circumstances. Although this book is fictional, it takes place during an important political time in Afghanistan, from about the 1960s to the early 2000s, during the Afghanistan war and the rise of the Taliban. This is an important book for anyone to read, as it makes the reader more aware of hardships in other cultures and countries. Also, as a woman, it makes one realize that not all woman have the same rights, and the fight for equality everywhere must continue on. 

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