Winter Break Reading List

I’m sure we can all attest that school is freaking exhausting. I for one, barely have time to finish my class work, so hobbies reluctantly take a backseat. Luckily, we get six weeks off for winter break, so we finally have time to indulge in our favorite activities! One of my favorite pastimes is reading, especially during the winter! It feels so relaxing to cuddle on the couch with warm blankets and my dogs as the fireplace crackles and the Christmas tree shines. Reading boosts your mental health, gives you a break from screens, and increases your intelligence. 

 

With time off from school, we have time to pick out any books we want to read! I have dozens of books I could recommend, but I narrowed it down to 10 remarkable books. I have read all of these, so I can personally guarantee that they are well worth your time. 

 

Social Justice Favs 

 

  1. Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt

    Keywords - Transgender, LGBTQ+, America

    

This story follows the journey of identical twin boys, Wyatt and Jonas. Wyatt showed clear signs of gender consciousness and the desire to be a girl even as a toddler. Nutt’s book focuses on this child’s parents' perspectives as they learn to accept Nicole’s identity and work together to combat social and political resistance. In fact, this family is one of the first to fight for transgender bathroom rights. Nicole’s story is fascinating, I learned so much! Highly recommend this book, it is life-changing. 

 

Sneak Peek: 

“Out of the blue, he’d ask Kelly, ‘When do I get to be a girl?’ or ‘When will my penis fall off?’ The questions almost seemed natural, as if it was just a matter of time before he became a girl...He was impatient, though, and that's where the unhappiness seemed to come from, from wanting to push the process he thought must be as natural as caterpillars transforming into butterflies.” (29)

 

  1. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah  

Keywords - South Africa, Race-Ethnicity, Culture, Apartheid  

Trevor Noah’s book is a must read! Now a popular comedian and political commentator, he takes us back to his humble roots in Johannesburg, South Africa. He writes about his childhood, simultaneously informing you on the horrifying reality of apartheid, all while making you laugh your head off .This book is comical, informative, and inspiring - a true masterpiece. 

 

Sneak Peek: 

“Estranged from her family, pregnant by a man she could not be seen with in public, she was alone. The doctors took her up to the delivery room, cut open her belly, and reached in and pulled out a half-white, half-black child who violated any number of laws, statutes, and regulations - I was born a crime.” (26)

 

  1. Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacobs 

Keywords - Race-ethnicity, LGBTQ+, Culture, Beauty 

 

This is a graphic novel, a great choice for those who want to start reading again but don’t know where to start. Jacobs, a South-Asian American, provides an easy read while tackling deep and significant issues. She frames her memoir through significant conversations she has had with strangers, friends, and family. This book flows through a multitude of social justice topics including but not limited to racism, cultural identity, sexual orientation, and American and Indian beauty ideals. Good Talk is full of artistic expression and language that makes you think. An incredible piece of literature!

 

Sneak peek: 

“Are white people afraid of Brown People? How do you know which ones are afraid of you? Is daddy afraid of us?” (17) 

 

  1. Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood by Ibtisam Barakat 

Keywords - Palestine, Refugee, Language 

 

This book is perfect for those interested in language, poetry, and the Middle East. Barakat captivatingly writes about her and her family becoming Palestinian refugees overnight. She tells the story through her perspective at the time, when she was only three years old! As she continues to experience displacement throughout her childhood, she develops a beautiful connection to language and expresses herself through the power of words. I could not put this book down, it is so good!! 

 

Sneak Peek: 

“My true journal is written with no pen or paper, but in my mind, with an invisible hand in the air. No one will ever find it. When mother says to come home, I write in my mind that I feel at home nowhere. I want to wander the streets after school, walk forever, walk away from a world I do not understand, a world that tells me daily there is no place in it for me.” (12) 

 

  1. When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele 

    Keywords: BLM, American Racism, Activism

 

 This is a wonderful book to learn and inform yourself about the Black Lives Matter movement. Written by a couple of the women who started the movement, Khan-Cullors and Bandele dive into their personal experiences with racism in the United States. They explain their reasoning behind starting the movement, and what they hope BLM will do for the future. A magical, inspiring, sorrow-filled, essential read. 

 

Sneak Peek: 

“I carry the memory of living under that terror - the terror of knowing that I, or any member of my family, could be killed with impunity - in my blood, my bones, in every step I take. And yet I was called a terrorist. The members of our movement are called terrorists. We-me, Alicia, Garza, and Opal Tometi - the three women who founded Black Lives Matter, are called terrorists. We, the people. We are not terrorists. I am not a terrorist. I am Patrisse Marie Khan-Cullors Brignac. I am a survivor. I am Stardust.” (8) 

 

Fiction Favs 

 

  1. The Seas by Samantha Hunt 

    Keywords: Magical Realism, Nautical, Poetry 

    

This eerie book follows the life of a 19-year-old woman in a small seaside town who believes she is a mermaid. While a seemingly juvenile topic on the surface, this young girl deals with the abandonment of her father, isolation, the dreary alcoholic undertone of the town, and her toxic feelings for an older man, an Iraq war vet. This book is ominous, cruel, and poetic. A short and interesting book to mix up your reading list. 

 

Sneak Peek: 

“The man pointed to the foaming crest of the wave rising above him and said to his crew, ‘Look at that strange cloud.’ That is how tall the wave was. He, somehow, lived through that wave. A rogue wave would stick out like this: Imagine you are reading a book and have arrived at a certain page, but imagine that when you arrived at that page, instead of being five inches wide it is one hundred and ninety-eight feet wide. So wide that when you turn the page it crushes you, pins you underneath it. You would never make it to page 53.” (52) 

 

  1. More Than This by Patrick Ness 

Keywords: Afterlife, Death, Philosophy 

 

I just started reading this book the other day, and I am obsessed. A boy named Seth wakes up in his trauma- filled childhood neighborhood after drowning. He slowly starts to realize that he has woken up in a hell, perfectly curated to make him go crazy. Isolated and alone, he needs to find out where he is and figure out what comes next. I’m so intrigued to finish this book, so far it has been a poetic and mysterious perspective on the afterlife. 

 

Sneak Peek: 

“He even has a distant sensation of momentum, his body continuing its fight against the waves even though that fight has already been lost. He feels a sudden rushing, a surge of terror hurtling him forward, forward, forward, but he must be free of his body somehow because his shoulder no longer hurts as he struggles blindly through the dark, unable to feel anything, it seems, except a terrified urgency to move - “ (7) 

 

  1. Someone We Know by Shari Lepena 

Keywords: Murder, Paranoia, Mystery 

 

This book is a fascinating suburban murder mystery. All of the neighbors in this neighborhood turn on each other as they all try to figure out who murdered an innocent woman down the street. Scandal continues to brew throughout the book as everyone has something to hide. I changed my mind about who I thought the murderer was a few times, and in the end it was not who I expected! Love this book, it is so intriguing! 

 

“Our eyes lock. She looks like a beautiful , frightened, animal. But I don’t care. I feel a rush of emotion - pure, uncontrolled rage; I don’t feel any pity for her at all. We’re both aware of the hammer in my hand. Time seems to slow down…” 

 

  1. History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera 

Keywords: Romance, Relationships, Loss

 

Ok, I’m going to be honest with you guys, this book had me sobbing. One of the saddest works of fiction I have ever read. It follows the past and present life of Griffin, who has found out that his ex-boyfriend, Theo, has passed away. Theo had been seeing someone new when he moved away for college, but Griffin assumed they would get back together one day. Griffin is forced to deal with his new gloomy reality alongside Jackson, Theo’s new boyfriend. This heartbreaking story is a must read for those who want a good cry. It is so good. 

 

“You’re still alive in alternate universes, Theo, but I live in the real world, where this morning you’re having an open-casket funeral. I know you’re out there, listening. And you should know I’m really pissed because you swore you would never die and yet here we are. It hurts even more because this isn’t the first promise you’ve broken”. (1) 

 

  1. The Similars by Rebecca Hanover 

Keywords: Technology, Mystery, Loss 

 

Oh my god, I read this book in one day. I seriously stayed up all night to finish it. This book follows the story of Emma, a high school student who attends an elite boarding school. Her best friend, Oliver, died over the summer and she is heartbroken over her loss. When she arrives back at school she finds out that six of the brand new nationally controversial human clones will be attending her school, and surprisingly one of the clones is the exact DNA copy of her dead friend Oliver. This book was full of twists and right when I thought I had everything figured out, the end genuinely shocked me. I highly recommend this book! 

 

“The boy leans down, accepting the key that Mr. Park is placing around his neck. I can’t make out which student he’s a copy of. Brown hair, medium build - he could be a clone of any number of boys in the junior or senior class. It isn’t until he straightens that I see his face. And it’s Oliver’s. “ () 

 

Have an awesome winter break! 

“She read books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live” - Annie Dillard 

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