5 Books to Read During The Winter Vacation


After the desperate days of finals at university, here comes the sun (a.k.a. vacation)! Even if you still have to wake up early everyday of July for going to work, I’m sure there will be some spare time for you to chill at home and pamper yourself.

Reading is one of the activities you can choose. During the semester, we usually don’t have enough time to catch up reading for fun – and we devote our time to piles of uni-related books and articles. If you’re a bookworm and are looking for new books to add to your reading list, check out our recommendations!

1. The Obscene Madame D, by Hilda Hilst

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Hilda Hilst is the honored author of 2018’s FLIP, the Literary Festival set in Paraty every year in the month of July. If you’ve never heard of her, you should definitely give her work a try. Hilda was a poet, playwright and novelist born in Brazil. Because of the variety of her work, there’s a Hilst’s book for every taste. She is one of the most important writers in Portuguese language in 20’s century.

The Obscene Madame D is a great start for beginners. It’s a novel centered on the lives of Hillé and Ehud. Hillé is the main character and the narrator, a sixty-years-old lady who is trying to understand herself and the moment of her life after the death of her husband. That’s the reason why the story is set in the interiors: her house, her life and herself. The author elaborates a stream-of-consciousness prose, which, at times, is close to her poetry.

As all her work, this book presents themes like insanity, body and sexuality – everything related to Hillé’s life and her transformation as she tries to understand her life path. Fans of Clarice Lispector’s books will love Hilda Hilst.

2. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, by Patrick Süskind

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This German novel, written by Patrick Süskind, is one of the most brilliant books I’ve read (so far) this year. It is a historical fantasy novel set in 18 century Paris. The story revolves around the sense of smell and every memory and emotion it can be related to. Each person has a distinct perfume, something similar to a digital print. The main character, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, is an orphan who is born with the gift of a (almost inhuman) sense of smell. He’s capable of distinguishing and learning a huge variety of scents. When he grows up, after being taken care of by many people and priests, Grenouille starts working as a perfumer.

That’s when he begins to develop his ability of knowing different scents and creating marvelous mixtures for the perfume shop – most of the time, he copies and upgrades the perfume formulas from another famous shop. The story gets thrilling by the time Grenouille faces a young redhead girl who has a unique scent. He gets obsessed with this perfume and commits a murder. If you appreciate mysterious and fantasy books, Perfume will become one of your favorites.

3. Frida Kahlo: The Story of Her Life, by Vanna Vinci

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If you’re more into art and biography, you won’t be able to stop reading this one unless you finish it. This is an extraordinary way of presenting the story of the life of Frida Kahlo. She was one of the most brilliant and enigmatic artists from 20’s century.

The Mexican artist is very well-known for her surrealistic paintings and for her remarkable self-portraits. It is a graphic novel that presents Kahlo’s biography with beautiful illustrations, mixing life facts with fantasy. Vanna Vinci captures the artist’s aura with bold illustrations, referring to the colorful Mexico and Kahlo’s outfits.

For people who admire Frida Kahlo’s work, it’s fundamental to know her life story to comprehend her paintings deeply. Although her story is though, as Frida suffered with surreal pain after an accident involving a bus collision, Vanna brings joy and light to the artist’s path.

4. Call Me By Your Name, by André Aciman

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You’ve probably recognized this title, due to the launch of a film adaptation, which was nominated to 2018 Oscars. This is a novel by André Aciman, centered on a coming-of-age story of a 17-year-old boy named Elio. He’s the narrator of the story, which revives the 1987 summer in Italy.

Each summer, his parents would bring a doctoral student to their house, so they could study and assist Elio’s father. This time, the guest is Oliver, an American student. At first, Elio is reluctant with this new friend. But as they talk and appreciate the beautiful Italian Riviera together, Elio becomes almost obsessed with Oliver and, with time, learns about his sexuality with him.

The book is centered on themes such as love, desire and the development of Elio during that summer. It also presents LGBT characters, promoting the debate of sexuality. There’s so much to learn with this book about respect, love and personal growth – regardless of your sexual orientation.

5. How to Fall in Love, by Cecelia Ahern

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If you’re more into romantic novels, this one's for you. Cecelia Ahern creates a captivating novel, which is a unique and unconventional love story. The main character, Christine Rose, is walking in Dublin when she sees a stranger man who’s ready to jump of the Ha’penny Bridge.

She gets nervous and tries to help Adam. They make a deal: Christine has 2 weeks until Adam’s birthday to get to know him better and prove him life is joyful and worth it. This book is an easy read for vacation and make us think about life and love. You’ll adore it!