The snow is falling, the temperature is dropping, and the holidays are right around the corner. It's a time to gather with family, trim the trees, wrap the gifts, and finally have a enough time to do absolutely anything and everything. Netflix will surely have an influx of viewers and couches will doubtlessly feel more loved than they have for the past five months as we rush home feeling free of the homework, exams and essays that we have been victoriously struggling through since September. But most importantly, the holiday break is the time when we finally get to replace what we have to read with what we actually want to read.
With a plethora of amazing authors and books lining the bookstore shelves or haunting the pages of Amazon, it's hard and often time consuming to wade through them all to find the perfect book(s) to sink into (and really who wants to spend the time choosing?). So, whether you are in need of a wordy companion on that long trip home, or one to cozy up to the fire with, here are seven books to read this holiday season.
Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
If you've ever listened to the song Flawless, you've heard this author speak, as Beyonce samples form Adichie's Ted talk We Should All Be Feminists (Watch it here). While Americanah is an eloquent and beautifully written love story, it is also a deep look into gender race and identity. Americanah takes readers from Nigeria to America and focuses on the characters Ifemelu and Obinze as they learn to deal with love and the culture surrounding them. At times sharp and empathetic, Americanah is the perfect work of fiction that reads smoothly while making important insights into our current culture.
Middlesex - Jefferey Eugenidies
Middlesex is a coming-of-age-family-saga that grips you not only with its larger-than-life and well-developed Greek-American characters, but also with is lyrical language that weaves the story together across generations. Taking place in Detroit through the rise and the riots, this book gives life to the people and the city in a way that only fiction can. Eugenides gives life to characters that don't often reach the spotlight, and in turn these characters give readers an avenue to imagine and feel more deeply. In short, it is a really fantastic novel.
The Dog Stars - Peter Heller
The world has ended, leaving Hig with his dog, his plane, and a whole lot of emptiness. And yet Heller finds a way to transform the lonely, post-apocalyptic world into something almost poetic. When a transmission comes through to Hig's radio, he sets off in his plane in search of something he knows could be out there. As we travel with him, we learn how Hig deals with loneliness, hope, and what happens when he wants to do more than just survive. With prose sounding like a beautiful and poetic Hemingway, The Dog Stars is a great novel for any reader.
Bad Feminist - Roxane Gay
If you haven't read Bad Feminist yet, you should. Gay's essays are simultaneously hilarious and serious, meaningful and though provoking. Gay approaches these culturally "touchy" topics, from feminism to gender to race, in a way that feels natural and easy. From the famed Katniss Everdeen to characters from The Help, Gay weaves her personal experiences into the changing cultural landscape to makes us laugh, feel, and think deeply about our world today. We learn and grow with Gay as she explore personally and culturally what it means to be a woman of color and a writer in modern day society.
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle - Haruki Murakami
If you've never read or even heard of anything by Japanese author Haruki Murakami, you could be in for a wild ride. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle brings the weird and psychological in line with the everyday and the mundane. The plot revolves around a missing cat and wife that takes main character Toru Okada on a strange journey where he encounters even stranger characters. Though the plot and the characters can morph into something fantastical, the storytelling and language is straightforward, which makes for an all together compelling and forceful novel.
Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl - Carrie Brownstein
Wether you're a fan of Portlandia, Sleater-Kinney, or music in general, Carrie Brownstein's recently-released memoir is worth the attention it has received so far. While she focuses on her music, what it meant to be a female guitarist in the punk-rock scene, a scene that would come to define music in pop-culture in the 1990's, Brownstein also focuses on her personal life: who the music has made her, who she is because of it. Raw and honest, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl gives us a taste of the intoxicating power of music.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Días
Oscar Wao is probably like nothing you've ever read before. The prose is unapologetically colloquial, the characters are honestly themselves, and it all centers on a family curse and Oscar Wao, a character described as "an overweight ghetto nerd." It is a page turner that will make you laugh out loud as you move between Santo Domingo and New Jersey and explore the contemporary American experience, love, and family.