The 5 Books I Read Over Break

I have always loved to read. Back in elementary school, I would get through ten books a month without even batting an eye. However, with the busyness that college brings and the piles of required readings for classes that stack up, the time spent reading for pleasure is all but non-existent. With over a month of free time with winter break, I had more than enough time to read and frequented my local library a fair bit. In no particular order, these are my thoughts on the 5 books I read over winter break!

  1. 1. How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz. Rate: 9/10

    I loved this book. After reading only the first few pages, I was already drawn into the world that Lutz created. The novel centers on 3 friends who met in college and jumps around chronologically depicting the change in not only these three women’s lives, but of their entire friendship dynamic as well. It was so refreshing reading a book centered entirely around the oftentimes intense dynamic that female friendships take on and was portrayed in a way that focused entirely on realism rather than the superficial and stereotypical. Although intense at parts, this book left me feeling fulfilled and warm, not to mention I loved seeing the city of Boston represented so heavily through its setting!

  2. 2. Harvard Square by André Aciman. Rate: 7/10

    As I previously mentioned, I love books that take place in locations I love and am familiar with. This book in particular, as stated by the title, is set in the city of Cambridge and Greater Boston and I got so excited whenever Aciman mentioned a cafe or street that I had been to myself. This book tells the story of a man from Egypt studying at Harvard who befriends an Arab taxi-driver in the late 70s. It focuses on their shared love of culture, food, and the trials friendships face during hardship, all while taking place in Emmanuel’s backyard. As with all of Aciman’s novels (author of Call Me By Your Name), the language is beautiful and I would recommend this novel for that reason alone.

  3. 3. Normal People by Sally Rooney. Rate: 6/10

    Rooney is an amazing writer, there is no denying that. There is a reason this novel is getting a television adaptation from Hulu coming this spring. I believe this story was an important one to tell, focusing around two young adults in college who were once afraid to reveal their connection in high school battling struggles of class, sexuality, and family. I liked this book, it reminded me of a more adult version of books I would have read in middle school (think an elevated Eleanor and Park). I think this book had a heavy dose of realism and touched on important topics, however, it fell a little flat to me at times. However, I would still recommend Rooney’s work and I do plan on watching the series this spring!

  4. 4. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. Rate: 8/10

    I know I’m late to reading this one, and I will admit, I saw the movie first. However, that did not take anything away from reading this at all! Semple is witty and incredibly talented at her craft, giving way to a fun and feel-good story about a daughter and father trying to find the matriarch of the family after she decides she is tired of her suburban life and heads off to Antarctica. The movie and book are both clever and left me feeling satisfied. Again, I think I’m the last person on earth to have read this book but if you have not, I definitely recommend it!

  5. 5. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins. Rate: 5/10

    Total genre switch on this one, but I love a good thriller. Hawkins also wrote The Girl on the Train, which was a total page turner. For me, Into the Water fell a bit flat. It focuses on a town in which mysterious deaths keep occuring in the river that runs through the middle and the attempts to figure out why this is happening and how to stop it. Personally, I found the plot interesting but the characters a little bit too unlikeable, as well as the fact that there were too many that it became difficult to keep track of them all at times. I won’t spoil the ending but I will say, it did catch me by surprise which I love with thrillers. I highly recommend The Girl on the Train, however, Into the Water maybe not as much.