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If you are like me, you can’t wait until exams are over and you can just relax. The first thing I’ll be doing after submitting my last exam is read a book. Hear me out, I know that reading isn’t at the top of most people post-exams fun list, but in my experience the right book can help refresh your mind and reduce stress after finals. It can be very difficult to find the motivation to read, especially if nothing seems intriguing or especially tempting. After exams, stories with complex worldbuilding and extensive plot can seem exhausting. Reading shouldn’t be chore and finding the right book won’t make it feel like one. With that thought in mind, I have compiled a list of contemporary novels that will hopefully captivate you and take your mind off of our ever-changing world.   

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney 

No list would be complete without a Sally Rooney shoutout. Aside from her pure brilliance (Normal People!), her work speaks to me on a very deep level. Conversations with Friends follows two friends/ex-girlfriends in college who become entangled with a married couple and the problems that ensue. The book is excellent in its depiction of today’s youth and their struggles with mental health and finding their place in the world. 

“Things and people moved around me, taking positions in obscure hierarchies, participating in systems I didn’t know about and never would. A complex network of objects and concepts. You live through certain things before you understand them. You can’t always take the analytical position.” – Goodreads

The Last Letter From Your Lover by Jojo Moyes 

When I first read this novel all I could think was that it was heartbreakingly beautiful. I’d read some of Moyes’ other books and they were fine, but this one was a wonderful surprise. I hesitate to give anything away because the title is pretty self-explanatory, and I don’t want to spoil anything. But if you like romance and angst, this book is for you. 

“Know that you hold my heart, my hopes, in your hands.” – Goodreads 

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

I’m a firm believer that cutesy books can also deal with real-world problems and still feel incredibly realistic; The Flatshare is just that. Its premise is best explained by the book’s blurb: “Tiffy and Leon share an apartment. Tiffy and Leon share a bed. Tiffy and Leon have never met.” While certainly fluffy and funny, the story effectively deals with serious issues in an honest way. 

Trigger Warning: emotional abuse, stalking, and gaslighting

“Some people are beyond aromatherapeutic help” – Goodreads 

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

I will preface this suggestion by saying you will probably cry (a lot). The Light We Lost follows Lucy as she reminisces about her first love, Gabe, and the complex relationship they had over the course of her adult life. The story deals with how the decisions we make and the reasons behind them can completely transform our lives. Tip: keep the tissues close and numerous. 

“I don’t want that kind of life, creating what sells.” – Goodreads

Regretting You by Colleen Hoover

Colleen Hoover’s books are always good picks if you are in a reading slump and Regretting You is no exception. The book follows a mother and her teenage daughter after a shocking loss and heartbreaking betrayal. It explores the mother-daughter relationship, first love, and second chances. If you are a fan of angsty romance look no further. 

“I’m confident that I’ll never spend a single second of my life regretting you.” – Goodreads

 

Vanessa is a second-year Political Science and History student at uOttawa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, listening to Taylor Swift on repeat, and running after Zuko, her English Bulldog.
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