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Returning to Reading: A Book Recommendation for Those with Free Time

As someone who has spent the last four years working towards a major in English literature, I can’t say that I have had much time on my hands to read “for fun.” While I do love my major and many of the readings that I have been assigned throughout the years, nothing really beats settling down with a great book just to unwind and relax. I have worked hard enough during each semester to set up a simple schedule this semester with only four classes taking up my week. Although I am typically someone who tends to fill in all of her free time (what is relaxation or sleep?), I have made it a personal goal of mine to get back to one of my favorite pastimes: reading for me, not for class. This can be a difficult task to achieve, as reading becomes a chore for many during college. Although I’ve had some trouble reading as much as I would like to with everything else that fills in the cracks of my schedule (work, extra curriculars, friends, etc.), I have managed to squeeze in some well written gems. One of my favorites thus far: Red Clocks by Leni Zumas.



About the book: Red Clocks should be on your “To Be Read” list for books released in the wake of our nations current political climate. There have been many books released in the last two years in response to the ever present tension that exists in the U.S. today, and this one in particular stands out for its not-so-subtle fight back. If you are a fan of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (or even its adaptation via Hulu), this modernized version is the book for you. Zumas provides a dystopian novel that hits a little too close to home in that the story is not too far from what our near future may be; hold on, because it gets real. In this fictional story we follow the lives of four women living their lives in a world in which abortion and in vitro fertilization are illegal and single parents are not allowed to adopt. Those who try to get around these rules by fleeing to the northern border are stopped by the “Pink Wall”—a rule allowing border police to stop women from seeking relief in Canada. Women will be taken into custody and possibly face a legal trial. The lives honed in on include: a single high school teacher in her thirties who is in the midst of writing a biography and trying to have a baby, one of the teacher’s students who excels in her classes but has to make a choice about her discovered pregnancy, a nomad who lives a simple life helping women by providing natural remedies and medication, and a stay-at-home mother of two who is unhappy in her marriage and is just trying to figure it all out.

About the author: Zumas has written three novels, and her fiction has been featured in various literary magazines. She has taught at several institutions, including: Columbia University, Hunter College, the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Portland State University—where she is a faculty member today. Her most recent novel, Red Clocks (2018) has been recognized as a New York Times Editors’ Choice.

In this era of resistance literature, there have been many authors using their written voices to speak their minds about the most prominent issues brought up in today’s society. Zumas succeeds in this aspect by creating a world so easy to imagine, with such raw characters you can’t help but sympathize for. This is a book that is meant to prompt the reader to feel so strongly that it forces an active response. Without considering the political relevance of the novel, the story itself succeeds in having an entertaining plot that makes you want to yell at the book before trying to put it down. In my opinion, if a book does not get your blood pumping then it is just too boring, and I found this novel to be anything but.


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