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This holiday season looks very different than any other that we’ve known. Whether you’re under lockdown, in a red zone, or simply unable to be near your loved ones, we have all had to make adjustments and become accustomed to a new normal. Personally, I have been using my newfound free time to catch up on my ever-growing reading list. There is something incredibly serene about cozying up with a good book and warm beverage during these colder months. If you agree, then you might be interested in the reading list I’ve assembled. There is something for everyone, from a comedic memoir to a heart-wrenching narrative. Take a look: 

Beloved by Toni Morrison

This enthralling novel takes a powerful narrative approach in chronicling the difficult physical and psychological legacy of slavery. Sethe, a woman who was born a slave but escaped to Ohio, is still possessed by the horrors of her past. She has seen and endured the unthinkable. Her home is presently being haunted by the ghost of her late baby whose tombstone reads “Beloved.” Grappling with complex themes, this book asks us what it truly means to be free. As Morrison beautifully illustrates through her poetic prose, being free requires more than simply gaining independence; it requires dominion over oneself. A Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, it is a paragon of literature. 

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

This humorous yet emotional memoir compels the reader from the very first page. Trevor Noah, the current host of The Daily Show, was born to a white father and Black mother during apartheid in South Africa, making their union, and his birth, a literal crime. While the book talks about Noah growing up and coming to terms with his identity, it is really an homage to his indomitable, resilient mother. He takes us through the journey of his life, and we quickly become acquainted with his mischievous antics and his mother’s fearless spirit. His unique ability to tackle serious subject matter in a lighthearted way makes this book one that sticks with the reader long after they have turned the final page. 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Although written and set in the 19th century, this is a book that transcends the boundaries of time. With its feminist undertones and sentimental dialogues, it implores the reader to think, learn, and empathize. It follows the lives of the four March sisters, each of whom are so different yet share an unbreakable bond. Everyone has a favourite sister, whether it’s undaunted Jo with her unfettered speech or precocious Meg who is kind to everyone she knows. You will come out of reading this book feeling like you personally grew up with the characters and shared their emotions – a hallmark of any good novel. Reading this book as a modern woman, I felt a strong connection to the “little women” and could relate to their experiences as they navigated young womanhood, from the follies of first love to defying the expectations of others. There is a reason this book endures as a classic in contemporary times: it is a timeless masterpiece.

21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous People a Reality by Bob Joseph

I consider this book essential reading for everybody, especially Canadians. It guides the reader through pertinent features of Canada’s Indian Act and discusses the repercussions that last to this very day. A lot of the content is utterly tragic and heartbreaking. But it is imperative that we read through it in order to understand some of the macro-level decisions that pervaded the Indigenous community. Condensing a piece of legislation that is a colonial relic and that contributed to cultural genocide is no easy task, but Joseph does it beautifully. It is a poignant reminder of our dark history. We have a long way to go before reconciliation can be achieved, but understanding our past is a place to start. This book helps us with that understanding. 

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Why do some people experience such high degrees of success? We are indoctrinated to believe it is because of some inherent trait, such as IQ, charisma, or creativity. However, in this book, Gladwell cogently argues that what differentiates the “outliers” from the rest of us is usually much broader and contextual. A person’s culture, family dynamics, or even their birth year, he argues, can be intrinsically tied to their success. What allowed Bill Gates to build his empire wasn’t that he possessed some innate aptitude for computer science, but that he had the fortuitous opportunity to spend over 10,000 hours honing his computer programming skills at school during a time when computers were few and far between. Through stories like this, Gladwell provocatively drives home the point that successful people reach the summit of their achievement with a lot of help and a bit of luck. A seriously absorbing read, I have recommended this book to almost everyone I know. 

If this list inspired you to pick up one of these books, or you have your own suggestions for a good read, let us know what you think in the comments below!

Rithvika is a 4A Honours Health Studies student. She enjoys film, current affairs, and spending quality time with her dog.
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