Winter break is here. That means students can put away their textbooks and enjoy some downtime and take out their leisure reading. It’s time to catch up on all of those books you’ve been meaning to get through. So, what should you read? From fiction to non-fiction, we’ve got a few ideas that you may enjoy.
Written as a letter to the author’s teenage son, this 2015 book explores the feelings and realities associated with being black in America. Coates gives a brief autobiographical account of his youth in Baltimore. He discusses his fear (both of the police and of the neighborhood), code-switching, and “the Dream” of suburban life. The book was widely well received. Author Toni Morrison called the work, “required reading.” Winner of the National Book Award for non fiction, this very personal discussion of race in America is sure to keep your mind occupied over the long winter break.
Trigger Warning is a collection of short fiction from Neil Gaiman (author of Coraline and Sandman). There is a great deal of variety among the stories with horror, ghosts stories, science fiction, fairy tales, and poetry. There is even a very special Doctor Who story that was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the series in 2013. This anthology explores our truest selves, and the masks we wear to cover them. This is Gaiman’s third collection of short fiction, following Smoke and Mirrors and Fragile Things. With so much to offer everyone is sure to find something they like.
Bloody Jack is a popular piece of historical fiction centered around an orphaned London girl who disguises herself as a boy and gets a position aboard a navy ship in the early 19th century. In spite of the book’s sometimes dark subject material, the book remains light-hearted and fun. Mary “Jacky” Faber, the book’s titular character faces the challenges of beginning puberty under the disguise of boyhood. There is definitely action in the book, but it is more a coming of age story than a swashbuckler. The first installment of a 12 book series, this piece is guaranteed to keep an interested reader busy.
Why Not Me is a collection of personal essays by actress and New York Times bestselling author Mindy Kaling. Through her writing she explores a variety of topics including love, friendship, weight loss, and succeeding in Hollywood in spite of the lack of roles and representation for people of color. In one of her essays titled “How to Look Spectacular: A Starlet’s Confessions” Kaling provides tongue-in-cheek advice for aspiring stars. “Your natural hair color may be appropriate for your skin tone, but this isn’t the land of appropriate–this is Hollywood, baby. Out here, a dark-skinned woman’s traditional hair color is honey blonde.”
For science (fiction) fans out there, this best selling novel was a movie hit this year, earning praise for Matt Damon and Ridley Scott and their work. The novel is a story about an exploratory mission to Mars by a team of astronauts. One of them, Mark Watney, finds himself stranded on the red planet after his crew leaves him behind and thought to be dead while they effort an escape from an intense dust storm that puts them in danger. Watney, a botanist and mechanical engineer, has no way to contact Earth. He must use his own resourcefulness and intelligence to survive, hoping that he can find a way home from this catastrophe.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This piece explores the characters Ifemelu and Obinze, Nigerian natives who are in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Ifemelu heads for America on an academic scholarship, where despite her success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.
This classic piece of satirical science fiction has maintained it’s popularity from radio show to novel and from novel to film adaptation again. It has even remained popular now, 14 years after the death of its author Douglas Adams. And what is the cause of this work’s lasting popularity? It is hilarious. There isn’t a page in the book that didn’t illicit at least a smirk out of me. With lines like “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.” and “A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.” this story becomes the perfect blend of insightful and absurd. The novels are described as “a trilogy in five parts” and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has 5 sequels, 4 written by Adams himself and one, titled “And Another Thing…” which was written by Eoin Coffer following the death of Douglas Adams. It was commissioned with the support of Jane Belson, Adams’ widow.
Kay is a student assistant with the SUNY Office of New Media. She is a University at Albany undergraduate working towards a double major in English and East Asian studies with a double minor in communications and film.