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The holiday season is rapidly approaching with students looking forward to increased downtime and visits home. One of my favorite activities over the break is to catch up on all of the books I’ve saved to my TBR (to be read) list. With BookTok increasing in popularity, the holiday season will be filled with new readers looking for the perfect world to slip into in between gatherings with family and friends. As a long-time reader that came back to the hobby at the resurgence of BookTok, I have some recommendations for new and old readers to add to their list over the holiday break that are guaranteed to spark your imagination.

shadow and bone by leigh bardugo

Shadow and Bone is perfect for beginning readers looking to explore the world of fantasy while wanting a relatable story of trying to find their inner strength. Alina Starkov is a young woman trying to find her place in a world at war, Ravka, after discovering that she is the sun summoner — a power unbeknownst to the world until now. If you are a fan of the main character torn between the idea of two different lovers, overcoming what feels like impossible odds, discovering true strength, and the chaos that can ensue when you stand up to authority, then this book is the perfect place to start your journey into the Grishaverse.

The Gilded Wolves by roshani Chokshi

The Gilded Wolves is a wonderful story for active readers to add to their wish list. Teenagers stage a heist to look for a powerful artifact among all of the houses in the world. If you are a fan of diverse characters, found family and lyrical style writing, then you’re sure to fall in love with these characters and their suspense-filled journey. The book is a medium-sized read, perfect for that extra relaxation time we have over the holiday break.

A court of thorns and roses by sarah j. maas

If you love fantasy, love stories and mysterious, magical Fae, then this series is for you. The first book in Sarah J. Mass’ series of the same name follows a 19-year-old girl named Feyre and her journey into Prythian, the world of the Fae that lies beyond the kingdoms of humanity. This story is filled with fiery spirit, enemies to lovers, and morally grey but enchantingly beautiful Fae lords. What draws Feyre to these dangerous high lords, and why would she ever fall in love with her captor? This story is perfect if you are looking to get invested in a series over the break and are looking to step into the world of adult high fantasy.

daughter of the pirate king by Tricia Levenseller

This story is perfect for fans of Pirates of the Caribbean. Alosa is the daughter of the pirate king, making her a pirate herself. She is in search of the lost piece of a map that leads to a secret treasure. Of course, the journey ahead is never smooth and Alosa must face capture by her father’s greatest enemy while trying to gather information and continue her mission. There is adventure, sense of self, potential love interests and a powerful heroine as the story’s main character. This story is a relatively short read for readers returning to the hobby or just getting started.

the selection by Kiera Cass

The Selection is the perfect, easy read for a holiday break. A story about knowing your worth and not giving up on yourself is a timeless YA theme. America is a teenager cast into a competition known as the Selection, a contest in which young women from each caste of society are selected to win over the rising prince’s heart. This story models a fantasy-style Bachelorette and shares many similarities to the real-life series. There is drama, romance, the inner conflict of choosing between childhood best friend or newfound love and a test of inner strength. I would recommend this series to any reader looking for a quick read that doesn’t sacrifice a compelling story for its short length.

During the semester, it can be hard to find time to dive into a new story or series. Winter break is a wonderful time to curl up, relax and enjoy a new adventure through the pages of a book. Most of my favorites come from the young adult, fantasy genre because I feel they are easy to jump right into, especially for new readers. While spending the holidays back home or with friends, it is important to take some time for yourself, and what better way than to escape into another world or adventure? I hope that you love these reads as much as I have and experience the joy that a good book can bring.

Emily is a senior at the University of Central Florida studying Digital Media and Web Design. In the future she wants to make an impact in the field of digital accessibility making a more inclusive internet for everyone.
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