Here’s the thing: I used to be an avid reader up until the summer before my senior year of high school. I used to read a book in two days, and some months I was reading up to 10 books. However, senior year of high school things got busy, and I started dedicating more of my time to my social life and enjoying my friends before I moved across the state. Following graduation, I told myself that I would read the books I had not been able to during the last year, or at least I would attempt to read the books I was the most excited about, and I did.
The summer following high school graduation, I was able to read 3 of the books I had been putting off during the last school year: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo and Flowers For Algernon. All I have to say is that they were amazing reads and that I’m disappointed I didn’t read them sooner, but ultimately happy I got around to them. The same thing happened with my freshman year of college, and with the holidays approaching and finals coming to an end, here are the books I am looking forward to reading this winter break.
1. How High We Go In The Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu
My senior year art teacher sent me a care box at the beginning of the semester filled with essentials and things to bring me joy throughout my first semester away from home. In this care box, she sent me two books she recommended for me to read. How High We Go In The Dark immediately caught my attention because I knew she had been reading it and the name sounded interesting. All I know about it is that it is science fiction told through multiple perspectives in a collection of short stories. My art teacher told me that it will tug at my heartstrings and if there is one thing to know about me, it’s that I am a sucker for any form of media that will make me cry.
2. Circe by Madeline Miller
This is a book I started reading before midterms and I never got a chance to finish it. I first read The Song Of Achilles by this same author around a year ago and I fell in love with the way Miller writes. I wish she had more books so I could collect and read them all. Circe is about, well, Circe, the Greek nymph and daughter of Helios. This story is a retelling of her life. Greek mythology never interested me growing up, but since I heard people talking more and more about the Greek gods after BookTok practically shoved Miller’s books down my throat, I am so excited to get to read the beautiful lyrical prose that only Madeline Miller can write so perfectly, while I sit here, hoping for her to publish at least one more book.
3. My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman
Fredrik Backman—where do I start? I love him. Backman became my no. 1 favorite author after I read his novella And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer And Longer when I was going through a rough time saying goodbye to a family member who still lived but had no memory of me. Backman does such an amazing job at encapsulating two things: love and grief. I have read A Man Called Ove, one of his most popular books, and I was ugly crying by the end. My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry is about a little girl named Elsa who is going through a grieving process through storytelling and adventures. If there is anything you take away from this article, it’s that you need to read anything by Fredrik Backman. Words can’t express enough how much I love his work. Backman is a Swedish author, and his books are translated into the English language but every single time I read them I almost wish I knew how to read Swedish so I could experience them in all their glory.
4. Crying In H Mart by Michelle Zauner
This book is a non-fiction novel about Michelle Zauner and her experience with losing her mother to cancer. Many people read to escape the world, but I read to further understand it and make sense of the human experience. This book was recommended to me after I read On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. I was told that both Ocean Vuong and Michelle Zauner speak on their experience of growing up with two cultures, which is something I can relate to as I grew up in Honduras and in the United States, so I am looking forward to getting to read Zauner’s experience with this and other things.
5. Under The Whispering Door by TJ Klune
What first drew me into this book was the cover art. After reading more about it, I found out that it deals with themes of the afterlife, and I love reading about that. I have been fascinated with what may happen after death for as long as I can remember, so knowing that this book is based on what a soul’s experience is like after death, even if it’s fictional, is something I am extremely excited to read about.
6. Before The Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
I have heard amazing things about this book series. It is about a coffee shop in Tokyo where there are rumors that one can return to the past until their coffee gets cold. If you have ever read anything that I write, you will know that I enjoy toying with the idea of “what-ifs” and the theme of regret, which is precisely what these books should be about, and how one shouldn’t dwell on what can no longer be changed and instead find lessons within these experiences, something I have been trying to master. Although last on my list, this is a book series that I will definitely add to my Christmas wishlist.
Before I leave, I want to end by saying that the books I talked about are not for all, and many deal with heavy topics that may be hard for others to read. Some talk about cancer, grief, sickness and other sensitive topics—please search for trigger warnings before reading.