Best Book to Snuggle With This Weekend: October Edition

Fall is the perfect season to curl up and let yourself get lost in the pages of a book.

I grew up as a reader. All throughout elementary and middle school, I would bring a book everywhere, and my parents worked tirelessly to get me to look up from the page and be present. It can be pretty challenging to find the time to read in college as you have classes, clubs, and a social life that take up so much of your schedule. Sometimes if you have a minute, you might be tempted to just take a nap. However, there is something so calming about unplugging and taking the time to read something you love. It can be difficult to find that time considering the constant presence of screens in our lives, and the serious lack of “me time” we all experience. I suggest taking some time off midterm studying this weekend to grab a mug of coffee or tea, wrapping yourself up in a cozy blanket, and diving headfirst into an amazing read. A great book that you can curl up with this weekend is Marlena by Julie Buntin.

Marlena follows its narrator, Cat, in two stages of her life, both irrevocably impacted by her charismatic, risky best friend, Marlena. At fifteen, Cat and her family move to a small, lonely town in Michigan. There, Cat finds a confidante in her beautiful next-door neighbor, Marlena. She starts to drink and smoke, cut school, and over time, grows into herself, but always in Marlena’s shadow. The two girls are inseparable, but Marlena is hard to read. Cat often finds herself struggling to understand this new friendship with Marlena. A year into their friendship, Marlena’s body is found in the woods where she has drowned, and Cat is left to pick up the pieces. (Don't worry - it’s not a spoiler!). When Cat is in her thirties and living in New York City, a relic of that formative friendship resurfaces. Cat is suddenly forced to reckon with her past, and how it insidiously affects her present. 

The novel is painfully realistic in its depiction of female friendships, and Cat’s emotional life is so textured and beautifully written. I especially love how centered it is on female relationships without relying on the male gaze or filtering them through a lens of male approval. Buntin allows her characters to be full, authentic, and messy, even when Cat’s choices reflect badly on her and she knows it. In addition, the whole book has a very chilling undertone, considering Marlena’s death. This makes a perfect non-traditional, spooky choice for October. The story progress forces you to hold on tight as tiny decisions snowball into catastrophic events as you anticipate what happens next. I would absolutely recommend picking up this book, and taking a little bit of time for yourself this weekend! 

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