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Another Semester, Another Reading List

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

At the beginning of each semester, before our workload starts to weigh down on us and before we have four papers and/or midterms to write within a week, we have something I like to call “the calm before the storm.” It’s those blissful few weeks when classes have just begun and professors and students are still getting their bearings so the workload is not yet overwhelming. I like to take advantage of this last bit of precious spare time by reading as much as I can for fun before I have to devote all of my time to required readings. Here are a few of the most interesting books that I’ve read lately:

A Thousand Pieces of You, Claudia Gray

“Every form of art is another way of seeing the world. Another perspective, another window. And science –that’s the most spectacular window of all. You can see the entire universe from there.”

Marguerite Caine’s parents are accomplished physicists who have just designed an earth-shattering device called the Firebird, which allows its wearer to jump through dimensions to parallel universes. Suddenly, Marguerite’s father is murdered and the person responsible is Paul, her parents’ quiet, brilliant assistant, who has fled into an alternate universe before he could be arrested. Determined to avenge her father’s death, Marguerite steals the other Firebird prototype and leaps into the multiverse in pursuit of Paul. As she chases Paul through alternate universes and uncovers new information, she begins wonder if he is being framed after all.

Reading this first instalment in the Firebird trilogy was like being swept away on an interdimensional adventure, slightly reminiscent of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. The 357 pages fly by and before you know it, you’re done and begging to know what happens next. The sequel, Ten Thousand Skies Above You, was released last year and the conclusion to the series, A Million Worlds With You, will be published later this year. I will warn you, however, that Ten Thousand Skies Above You ends with a cliff-hanger that made me want to pull my hair out. Still, despite my frustration with the ending of the second book, this series has become one of my favourite reads.

The Memory Painter, Gwendolyn Womack

“On some level he felt as if he already knew her, and yet he didn’t know what to say.”

A shroud of mystery surrounds Bryan Pierce, a world-renowned, young artist who paints exceptionally vivid scenes from a variety of different eras and cultures throughout history. Ever since he was a child, Bryan has been haunted by visions that inexplicably leave him with incredible skills, such as the ability to fluently speak new languages or even his talent for painting. One evening, at an exhibition of Bryan’s work, Linz Jacobs is stunned into silence when she sees her recurring nightmare portrayed in one of Bryan’s paintings. Anxious to know more, Linz insists on meeting the artist, leading to a strange connection that takes Linz and Bryan on an exciting expedition through time and all over the world.

This is one of those books that I stayed up half the night reading because I simply could not put it down. I was immediately captivated by the premise and I remained hooked until the very last page, at which point I realized it was somewhere around 2 in the morning. In short, The Memory Painter was a unique and beautiful story that I absolutely adored. If you like this book, I suggest also reading My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares, who happens to be the author of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. 

After I Do, Taylor Jenkins Reid

“Just because you can live without someone doesn’t mean you want to.”

Lauren and Ryan have the quintessential love story: they met in college, fell madly in love, got married, and lived happily ever after… until now. After eleven years together, they’ve reached the breaking point in their relationship. They can’t stand one another and all of their conversations inevitably turn into shouting matches. In an effort to save their marriage, the two agree to take a one-year break, during which they won’t have any contact. As Lauren adjusts to life without Ryan, she sets off on a journey of healing and introspection, hoping to redefine her happily ever after.

What I loved the most about After I Do was how refreshing and devastatingly real it was. Love is imperfect. It isn’t a walk in the park and sustaining a marriage takes work. The heartbreaking honesty that Taylor Jenkins Reid put into her writing was just perfect. In addition, I thoroughly enjoyed accompanying Lauren as she reconsidered her marriage, rediscovered herself, and ultimately learned about all sorts of love, from familial love to romantic love to self-love. The lessons that Lauren learns in After I Do are lessons that we all learn at some point. All I can say is: this one’s a must-read.

Three Souls, Janie Chang

“We have three souls, or so I’d been told. But only in death could I confirm this.

As the ghost of Leiyin watches her funeral from above, she has almost no memories of her life nor of the events leading up to her premature demise at the young age of 24. As her funeral concludes, Leiyin discovers that she is bound to this world until she can rectify the offenses that she committed during her life. With her three souls, Leiyin is forced to recall and reflect on the latter seven years of her life, the decisions she made, and her impact on others. From there, she must find a way to right her wrongs from the afterlife before her spirit becomes permanently trapped on Earth.

When I read Three Souls, what intrigued me the most was how headstrong and determined Leiyin was, especially considering the fact that the novel was set in China in the late 1920s, during the Chinese Civil War. Though you know from the beginning that Leiyin is doomed to die an unnatural death, you can’t help but hope that she succeeds in overcoming everything that stands in her way. All in all, Three Souls was another book that kept me mesmerized until its conclusion.


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After spending a wonderful fall 2015 term in Paris, France, Regina is in her final semester at McGill University, studying Economics and French. She loves reading and writing in her spare time, travelling to foreign places, and baking anything she has the ingredients for. She also occasionally plays the oboe. Some of Regina's favourites include the colour blue, the season of fall, and the movie You've Got Mail. You can follow her on Instagram under the handle @reginawung.