This year, winter break and the holiday season are going to look very different from any other year. With COVID still around, we should all be planning to spend lots of time with our families and staying home to flatten the curve. Instead of scrolling through your TikTok feed for hours a day, I recommend cozying up with a cup of your favourite hot beverage and a book to read. I know, I know! You've just had what felt like the longest semester of your life, and the last thing you want to do is to read more when you don't need to. But still, if you've already binged an entire season of the latest show on Netflix, maybe take a break from that and dive into a new book.
1. Educated – Tara Westover
I fell in love with this memoir, Educated, by Tara Westover earlier this summer and have since reread it more than a few times. It's a beautiful book that recounts Tara's struggle for self-invention, having been raised by Mormon survivalists in rural Idaho. Her father didn't believe in the government and yet very much so believed that doomsday was always near. As a result, Tara didn't step foot in a classroom until she was 17. She and her siblings grew up in an environment where visits to the hospital were nonexistent and, instead, all health concerns were treated at home by herbal concoctions. Tara taught herself enough to be admitted to Brigham Young University and, much later, awarded a Ph.D. from Cambridge University. Above all, Tara does a phenomenal job at reminding us of the privilege it is to receive education and what it offers. Educated has become one of my favourite books of all time (a big statement from an avid bookworm!), and I recommend it to everyone regardless of what genre you typically enjoy reading.
2. Know My Name – Chanel Miller
In 2016, Brock Turner became a name known to many people around the world, especially women. He infamously received a sentence for just six months of county jail after sexually assaulting a woman on Stanford University's campus. What about the woman he sexually assaulted? Emily Doe was the name she went by in 2016, but now she's reclaimed her identity as herself - Chanel Miller. As a reader, this memoir was powerful in ways I can't explain in words. Chanel's story has forever transformed the way I view and think about sexual assault. Her writing challenges your preconceived ideas of trauma, shame, vulnerability and courage. Chanel Miller is a name that everyone should know because her story is worth knowing.
3. The Queen’s Gambit – Walter Tevis
Most famously known now because of the 2020 Netflix miniseries adaptation of the same name, The Queen's Gambit tells a story of an orphaned female chess prodigy. The novel explores the life of Beth Harmon through themes of adoption, feminism, chess and addiction during her rise to becoming the world's greatest chess player. I must admit that I watched the Netflix show before reading the novel, but nonetheless, fell in love with Walter's masterful writing skills. I highly recommend reading the book and watching the series because both artfully capture what it's like to thrive in a man's world.
4. Home Body – Rupi Kaur
Home Body is the highly anticipated third collection of poetry by Rupi, recently published this year after her famous Milk and Honey and The Sun and Her Flowers collections. I'm usually not an active reader of poetry, but after reading the first two collections, I knew I had to read the third as well. Rupi expertly uses words and self-illustrated minimalist art to guide readers through the stages of the past, the present and the potential of the self. I've always been fond of Rupi's writing and her passion to address issues about mental health, relationships and the real truth about being an immigrant and a woman. I understand that poetry is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I still recommend giving this one a shot.
Whether you're into classic literature or murder mysteries, I hope you find some time this holiday season to pick up a good read. Make sure to support your local independent bookstores or stop by a local library. There are also many options to borrow Ebooks through your library website or app. And, if you're not a fan of reading, there are millions of audiobooks easily accessible online as well. I hope you enjoy my recommendations, and I would love to hear some of yours. Happy reading!