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T.B.R: Books I Want to Read This Semester and Why You Should, Too

Lately, losing myself to the Williams workload has also meant losing time to indulge in one of my favorite passions: reading. That is a different kind of “losing myself,” one where I am swept away by words into various lands of fantasy and reality alike with every flip of the page. I have always been an avid reader, and so this semester, one of my goals is to return to that part of my life. To make this possible for me, I have curated a list of books I am truly interested in reading. Throughout the semester, I will be reading them and providing reviews for them here on HerCampus — I hope you will join me in my journey. 

 

  1. Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro

As this is the first novel written by Kazuo Ishiguro since winning the Nobel Prize in Literature, I am interested to see where he will take his writing. Having read a previous novel of his, Never Let Me Go, I want to see if Ishiguro’s talent in combining complex character development with equally complex and intriguing plots will continue onto this book. 

        This book follows the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend (to use the language of the book) who from her place in the store watches customers peruse both inside and walk past outside, hoping that one day one will choose her. Besides this exposition, I don’t know much else. I am careful to avoid too much detail about books I want to read so I can develop my own opinions and have organic reactions. But super interesting, right? What does it mean to be an Artificial Friend? Why does Klara want to be purchased, for lack of a better word to use? What is the framework of the society in which Klara is a part of? Excited to find the answers to these questions!

 

  1. The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow

January Scaller, the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, lives within a mansion full of interesting artifacts. The basic premise is that one day, she finds a strange book, and the tale hiding within intertwines with her own life.

I have been meaning to read this book for a while, as many reviewers raved about Harrow’s ability to weave words to create new worlds. Some likened it to being more of an experience rather than a novel. As that is my favorite part of being a reader, I am excited to see if I feel the same way.

 

  1. Know My Name, by Chanel Miller

Chanel Miller, better known as Emily Doe, was sexually assaulted by Brock Turner in 2015. The case, and Miller’s stunning letter, have shaken me to my core. I had never been so impacted, so angered before in my life about the entire situation — and when I found out that she had written a book, I knew I had to read it.

I think this is a very important book to read. It allows us to hear a victim of sexual assault reclaim her identity and her story when so much of the story is spun around the assaulter and not the assaulted. And having read Miller’s letter, I know her writing will again affect me in the same way, and that this memoir will be moving. 

 

  1. The Vanishing Half, by Britt Bennett

        This book explores the stories of two twin sisters, Stella and Desiree Vignes. They grew up in a small, southern black community and ran away at sixteen, only to have their adult lives be different in every way possible: their families, communities, and racial identities. 

    I am intrigued by this book for many reasons: reviews have spoken about how intricate the prose is, how well the characterization is, and how absorbed the reader becomes. I want to see how the sisters’ relationships grow and break and grow together again. It also won the Goodreads Choice Award for best historical fiction, and that just makes me all the more excited to read it, as Goodreads is one of my main sources for books to read.

 

  1. The Night Circus, by Eren Morgenstern

        So many of my friends have raved about this book that it’s kind of embarrassing how long it has taken me to get to adding it to my list. They told me to go into this book blind, so I don’t know anything about this besides what I can infer from the title and the cover, as well as how much they loved the story and the characters. I even stopped myself from reading the summary just so I could go into this with a completely blank slate. Interested to see how I’ll like it, since I’m confused as to what kind of storyline a circus can involve. 

 

And finally:

  1. The Poppy War, by R.F. Kuang & A Winter’s Promise, by Christelle Dabos

    I’m grouping these two together because they are both the first in a series of high fantasy books. I’ll be reading both and deciding which series to read first. This is because whenever I finish a series I tend to experience a book slump and can’t read other series for a bit because the world of the series I finished is still playing out and living in my head. So, both series are definitely on my list, but the question is I am not sure in which order I will be reading it. 

    I already read the first chapter of The Poppy War just because I wanted to see if it would pull me in, and it did — it pulled me in completely. I love Rin’s hard working and ambitious character, and I love the dark-skinned Asian representation (as I myself am a dark-skinned Asian person). The world building is also phenomenal, and that was only in the first chapter! Who knows what Kuang will do in the entire first book, in the entire series — but I am so ready to find out. 

    As for A Winter’s Promise, I am reading the book for three reasons: one, because a friend told me I would love the series; two, because the covers are just beautiful; and three, because the series is originally a French fantasy series! Fun fact about me, I love the French language, having taken four years of it in high school, and am considering reading the series in French after finishing it in English to brush up on the language.

 

Overall, I am so excited to tackle this list and share my reviews with you all. There are some other books on my to-be-read that I have not mentioned here, as they are more books that I am simply interested in rather than dying-to-read, and so I have omitted mentioning them for fear of this article getting too long! My to-be-read list is long enough to rival the thickness of some of my course packets and textbooks, so we’d be here for a while. Till next time! (If you want to read along my list with me, the first book from this list that I will be reading is The Poppy War, and the second book will be A Winter’s Promise, after which I’ll decide which series to tackle first.)

Senjuti Gayen is a sophomore at Williams College, and is originally from New York City. Besides writing for HerCampus, Senjuti is either doing research, writing (everything from articles to stories to poetry), and editing for Williams' literary magazine the Literary Review. She loves the Harry Potter book series, (iced) coffee, and spicy food.
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