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4 Books To Read For Pleasure

I’ve always loved to read. From the life-changing day in 2011 when I cracked open my first Harry Potter book to the hours I spent curled up in my bed reading everything from Pretty Little Liars to Pride and Prejudice, reading has long been a source of comfort, knowledge, and (healthy) escapism. However, in high school, and now college, the assigned texts I am forced to read daily have diminished the excitement of an engrossing book. Whether it be a wordy ancient text or a dry theoretical rambling, I spend so long toiling over my academic readings that I am exhausted by the time I finish (and eager for some Netflix). However, I miss my old self, the one who always had a book going on the side. Since coming to college, I have been seeking out the perfect collection of books to keep me company in the last few minutes before bedtime: ones that will suck me in, ease my mind, and break up the relentless academic grind. Whether you are a fellow reading lover who has been struck down by the monotony of academia, or a hater of books (if there even is such a thing?!) looking to change her ways, look no further. Here are four books that have interested, excited, comforted, and edified me in the last few months. And worry not: some of them are indeed beach reads. After all, sometimes the brain just needs a break.

1. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi​

Yaa Gyasi’s first book, Homegoing, chronicles the lives of two Asante sisters who are separated, and their respective descendants. While one sister, Effia, marries a white colonizer and lives in a castle, the other sister, Esi, is imprisoned in the castle’s dungeons. The book follows the children of Effia, who stay in Ghana and on the gold Coast, and the children of Esi, who are taken to America as slaves. Engrossing, touching, emotional, and informative, Homegoing is a must-read for everyone.

Read it when you: want to feel enriched.

2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell​

I love Rainbow Rowell. She has written several masterpieces, my favorites being Attachments, Eleanor and Park, and of course Fangirl. Fangirl traces the experiences of two twin sisters who go to the same college. While Wren is outgoing and confident, Cath is an introverted homebody who does not yet feel ready to leave her home and her father behind. The book mainly focuses on Cath, following along as she meets people and comes out of her shell but also stays true to who she is. This book is sweet, heart-wrenching, hilarious, and captivating, and it is one of the “comfort books” I took with me to college (alongside Harry Potter, of course).

Read it when you: want to escape.

3. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Yes, I know it’s a TV show now. But I read this book when it was a galley in 2014, and I have loved it ever since. Even if you’ve seen the show, I highly recommend the book. Moriarty’s ability to make text come alive is enchanting, and the story’s delicious blend of trashy and sophisticated is unparallelled. I love losing myself in the lives of these privileged mothers, as they navigate child, relationship, and friendship drama. In a world where is nothing is as it seems, it is hard not to become completely engrossed.

Read it when you: want a window into the juicy lives of a group of privileged young mothers.

4. My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh​

Written by Barnard alumnus Ottessa Moshfegh, My Year of Rest and Relaxation centers around the life of an unnamed recent Columbia grad who, flush with inheritance money and exhausted with life, decides to take a year off to “relax.” By “relax,” she actually means “get prescribed anxiety and sleeping pills and curl up on the couch to sleep for a year in a drug-induced haze,” which, despite seeming like a monotonous premise, ends up being anything but. The story follows the waking moments of the unnamed, misanthropic protagonist, as well as visits by a diverse cast of characters, most notably her bitchy, dramatic, self-absorbed best friend Reva. A sharp commentary on the lives of millennials after college, the various effects of mental health issues, and the process of coping with loss, My Year of Rest and Relaxation may not lift your spirits, but it will absorb you completely.

Read it when you: want a healthy dose of acerbic, melancholy humor from a misanthropic character.

Ava Ferry

Columbia Barnard '22

A Los Angeles transplant living in New York City, Ava is a freshman at Barnard College of Columbia University (the best college in the world), and she has no idea what she's studying. In her free time, you can find her watching Netflix, wandering around the city with her headphones in, reading Vogue, scream-laughing, and offending old conservatives with her uncouth language.
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