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With the semester wrapping up, and winter break approaching, many of us are wondering what to do with the free time on our hands. If you are looking for a productive, yet relaxing, way to spend your weeks away from classes, I would suggest picking up a good book. No, it doesn’t have to be an academic book that you need to take notes on, but rather something that is engaging, enjoyable, and will take your head far away from a stressful semester. Here are my five favorite books I’ve read over the past year that I would recommend to anyone looking to read something new:

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo By TAYLOR JENKINS REID

I borrowed this book from a friend over the summer, and I have never been the same since. Taylor Jenkins Reid’s 2017 novel about a journalist and her coverage of a former Hollywood star’s scandalous romantic life is filled with plot twists until the final page. It is so captivating, descriptive, and well-written that I found myself putting all of my plans and responsibilities aside so I could keep reading. The book’s moving story about love, friendship, and identity is coupled with Hollywood drama making it both emotional, entertaining, as well as my first response when anyone asks for a book recommendation.

malibu rising by taylor jenkins reid

Also by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Malibu Rising tells the story of the four Riva siblings and the chaos that unfolds at their annual end-of-summer party. As evident by the title, the book is set in Malibu in 1983 where the oceans, palm trees, and scenery come to life through its descriptive writing. The storyline takes place over a 24-hour period with some flashbacks enabling readers to gain a vivid understanding of the Riva siblings different personalities and family history. With a plot filled with drama and romance, Malibu Rising is one of the best books I’ve read this year.

The last summer at the golden hotel by elyssa friedland

If you are anything like me and love Dirty Dancing or The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, then this book is for you. Elyssa Friedland’s novel tells the story of the Goldman and Weingold families who reunite to determine the future of their summer resort in the Catskills. After once writing a paper about this subject, I loved reading about it in a fictional manner. The themes of family and friendship combined with nostalgia and humor make for a storyline that is both interesting and heartfelt.

in five years by rebecca serle

This is a book that will be impossible for you to put down. I’m not kidding. I read it from start to finish in three hours. It is the fictional story of Dannie Kohan, a girl (coincidentally from my hometown) who falls asleep and wakes up five years in the future next to a completely different partner, in a strange apartment, and with a new ring on her finger. The catch, though, is that she can only spend one hour in this new life and must understand how this vision becomes reality over those five years. Rebecca Serle’s moving novel is an absolutely unforgettable love story that instantly became one of my favorite books ever.

the people we meet on vacation by emily henry

This book has gotten a lot of attention over the past year, and rightfully so. Emily Henry’s novel, reminiscent of When Harry Met Sally, is the perfect feel-good, friends-to-lovers story to read in your free time. The story of two friends with a shared love for their summer trips is filled with so much detail that it feels like you are traveling the world right beside them. The People We Meet on Vacation as well as Henry’s older novel Beach Read are two great books if you are looking for an intriguing, yet romantic read.

There is absolutely nothing like the power of a good book. After a crazy semester, I am so excited to finally relax, recharge, and read. If you are looking to do the same, these five books will instantly become your favorites just as they are mine.

Carly Brechner is a UMich sophomore from Philadelphia studying Communications and Media. When she isn't reading or writing, she is gossiping about pop culture and exploring all that Ann Arbor has to offer.
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