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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Conn Coll chapter.

As both a bibliophile and someone who lives in a dorm, having a select stack of books from home to showcase my favorites is essential to completing my space. As anybody who had a backpack filled to the brim throughout their adolescence would know, too many books feel quite heavy very quickly… Hence, my stack had to be short so that the burden of moving into my dorm was lessened. Here is a list of the eight books that I brought to school with me, a brief summary of each, and why I love them.

  • Envelope Poems by Emily Dickinson

First on my list is a collection of poems written by the late American poet, Emily Dickinson. When she was alive, it was alleged that she was involved in a queer relationship with her sister-in-law, so I was eager to learn more about this bit of sapphic history. The first time I read it I was finished within an hour because of how small it is. The intrigue that Envelope Poems provokes is that the book lacks typed poems, and is instead a collection of letters, manuscripts, half-written poems, and other scraps left behind by Dickinson. Since women weren’t allowed to publish for most of her lifetime, the majority of her work was released posthumously. Being given a chance to glimpse into the life of Emily Dickinson feels like an honor, which is why I like to keep it near.

  • Diary of an Oxygen Thief trilogy, including Chameleon in a Candy Store, and Eunuchs and Nymphomaniacs, all written by an anonymous author

I first read Diary of an Oxygen Thief my freshman year of high school, and I read it again when I got to college because it originally wasn’t very significant in my memory, and I am so glad I did. The book is narrated by a recovering alcoholic who works in advertising in London and also seems to find comfort in emotionally abusing women. While this sounds like every woman’s worst nightmare, I am so intrigued by people/characters that I cannot wrap my head around; there were instances where I was so annoyed that I needed to see what he would do next. And, the author’s somewhat-autobiographical style makes me wonder how much is fact and how much is fiction. The novel was turned into a series with three books total, and the second book in the series includes some nice doses of poetic justice to comfort women readers. I never finished the third book because it honestly wasn’t as compelling as the other two, but I can’t have an incomplete stack! So I, of course, included the third book anyway.

  • Slow Days, Fast Company by Eve Babitz

I got this book for Christmas last year after my aunt recommended it to me, and it is such a fun read. Being about as far removed from the Los Angeles socialite environment as one can be, this book feels like nothing I’ve experienced or read before. This essay-ish style memoir illuminates Babitz’ keen eye for detail, offering readers a vivid glimpse into 1970s LA culture, art, and music, as well as noting the countless eclectic personalities present at the time. Slow Days, Fast Company is a book that is contingent upon time and space, which is what makes it such a pleasure to read; the anecdotes couldn’t have been told anywhere but Los Angeles or in any time but the 60s/70s, so immersing yourself in this book feels almost like time travel. Since it is such a quick read, it’s my go-to book to throw in my tote bag when I have to take a train somewhere, and I’d highly recommend it.

  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

As an American Studies and Sociology major, dystopian fiction about socio-political topics is my absolute favorite. The Handmaid’s Tale is extraordinarily popular, especially due to the relatively recent TV show adaptation. It is not only a favorite of mine, but also a reminder of why I decided to focus on American history in college! The first history class that really drew me in was in my junior year of high school—Intersectional Women’s History—and I was assigned to read this book. I’m a firm believer that being educated on our nation’s past (and present) is necessary for a functional future, and The Handmaid’s Tale is just one of the many examinations of what happens when we neglect history. Additionally, it is one of many books that has made it onto the “banned” list throughout many K-12 schools across the nation, making it an even more important piece of literature to me.

  • The Yellow Wallpaper and Selected Writings by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

A full collection of the works of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, this next book includes a mixture of her short stories and her novel, Herland. The novel follows a group of boys as they venture upon a land untouched by men, and consequently ruin the harmonious matriarchy. The Yellow Wallpaper itself, though, is an all-time favorite of mine. It’s a short story about a woman who is suffering from depression, and her husband has no idea what to do with her, so he essentially confines her to one room with yellow wallpaper in their colonial mansion, and her madness only grows throughout the story. The story sounds grave if you’ve never read it, but a feminist author truly does it justice with a satirical tone and thoughtful narration, making it a great (and quick) read. 

  • “Our Family Recipes” Notebook

Finally, the last book I brought to school with me is one to remind me of home. I received a family recipe book for my 18th birthday, and my mom has been adding new recipes to it on each birthday of mine. Some recipes are her own creations, some are family recipes that have been passed down through the generations, and some are recipes that she just knew I would enjoy based on what I grew up liking! I can’t wait to watch the book keep growing, and I’m eager to let it dictate many of my meals throughout adulthood because it takes the burden of planning away by having things set and ready to go, catered specifically to me. I’m also excited to one day share these recipes with the family I create; food is a love language all on its own and these recipes hold so many stories and love to me!

Bella Stewart

Conn Coll '25

Junior at Connecticut College majoring in Sociology and American Studies, minoring in Gender, Sexuality, and Intersectionality Studies. Center for the Critical Study of Race and Ethnicity Scholar. avid Letterboxd user with a Lorelai-Gilmore-level coffee problem