Before holiday season dawns upon us the exam season. But once that hurdle of examinations is past, three whole weeks will stretch out—three long weeks in which to read books! After all, don’t we all deserve a rest after a difficult semester? Winter break is a time for everyone to curl up at home with a book. The only question is—which book? The great thing about books is that there are so many different genres and categories to choose from. There’s a book out there for everyone, and everyone should search for the books that are just right for him or her. To help you find that fated book and in the giving spirit of the holidays/Christmas/Hanukkah, I give to you the following recommendations for a book to read over winter break. There’s one (or more) out there for each and every one of you. Good luck finding them.
For those really getting into the Christmas spirit:
“A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens
Dickens’ book about the spirit of Christmas is a classic and brilliant take on the cliché of a heartwarming tale featuring an old, grumpy figure being infected with the giving spirit of Christmas. “A Christmas Carol” is shorter than Dickens’ usually verbose prose, and the writing is far more manageable. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, the novel becomes a great vindication of the values that Christmas espouses. Combine this heart-warming ending with the eerie beginning of the story and you’ve got yourself a great story about the transformative nature of the Christmas spirit.
For the imaginative dreamer to read over Christmas:
“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C. S. Lewis
If you’re an imaginative dreamer, what better books to read than the Narnia Chronicles by C.S. Lewis? Portals and travel between the mortal world and an alternate one, evil witches and talking lions… the whole series reeks of fantasy and fantastical creatures—in a good way. The language remains sophisticated and appealing at the same time in a timeless manner that ensure that this fantasy series is continuously read. Also, the second and most famous book, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” takes place in a winter landscape and has Christmas as one of its motifs—a perfect read for the dreamer at Christmastime.
For those who want to get in the superhero hype over Christmas:
“Batman: Nöel” by Lee Bermejo
Partially based on another book on this list (“A Christmas Carol”), this graphic novel deftly relates the characters in the Batman series with characters from “A Christmas Carol,” and offers up a unique spin on the tale. Incorporating many of the Batman protagonists and antagonists—and a few new characters—this distinctive graphic novel offers a particularly interesting take on the genre of Christmas-themed literature. Add the meticulously drawn graphics into the mix, and you have yourself a great graphic novel to read over the winter holidays!
For those who want to laugh all Christmas long:
“Yes Please” by Amy Poehler
This book is not only a new book in our library, but it is also the winner of the humor category Goodreads Choice awards for 2014 books. Offering both funny advice and funny stories for readers to laugh at and learn from, American actress and comedian Amy Poehler presents a hilarious must-read.
For those who want to laugh even more over Christmas:
“Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman”/ “What do You Care What Other People Think?” by Richard P. Feynman
These books are a set of memoirs of the American theoretical physicist Richard P. Feynman. I know what you’re thinking… I mistitled the header for this one. That’s not the case. Feynman is a hilariously quirky individual with a warm personality that bleeds through the pages of his memoirs. If you’re looking for some true stories told in an extremely engaging and personal voice, Feynman’s memoirs are the way to go…. Of course, if you’re looking for something more science-y, you can find his lectures, but his memoirs are a personal favorite of mine. I can only hope that it becomes a favorite book of yours as well.
For those who want a nice family novel over Christmas:
“Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott
Another classic book to rescue the spirit of Christmas! “Little Women” is almost the epitome of classic family novels. Alcott’s captivating writing style helps readers bond emotionally with the characters. With several scenes dealing with the theme of Christmas, and the entire novel revolving around the familial nature of the holidays, “Little Women” is another classic to read over break!
For those who want a good think over Christmas:
“The Geography of Thought” by Richard Nisbett
The holidays are a time to celebrate, but they are also a time to think and reflect upon your life and the world around you. This book on Nisbett’s theories of cultural psychology is admittedly not as suspenseful or exciting as a fiction novel; however, this book is definitely one that will get you thinking about the world around you. Nisbett’s comparisons of the East Asian and Western cultures provides a direct relevance to our own lives, and what better time to sit down with a reflective book than during the winter holidays?
For those who want a quick read for Christmas:
“Four Warned” by Jeffrey Archer
At a mere 112 pages, this suspenseful collection of four short stories emphasizes the “quick” in “quick reads.” Despite this, the book provides concise, yet intriguing plotlines that are sure to captivate any reader—even those in a hurry to get done with the book. Each story provides a quick and easy read, but still manages to excite readers with a creative storyline and superior writing. Join the four protagonists in these short stories that will never fail to surprise you with plot developments. Each reader may have a different favorite character—but all will enjoy these tales.
For those who want to skim the pictures:
“The Eternal Smile” by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim
Short stories not short enough for you? Tired of reading so many words on pages that it begins to look like small print? Look into this graphic novel. Those who took General Literature may be familiar with Yang’s work from the graphic novel “American Born Chinese.” Like “American Born Chinese,” this book also deals with similar concepts regarding reality contrasts with fantasy and appearances. Examining such concepts through three equally imaginative stories, “The Eternal Smile” is a perfect book to read in order to immerse yourself in fantasy over the winter break, before coming back to the reality of school next semester. Plus, it’s a graphic novel. More pictures, less reading!
Nonfiction book for those who want to do nothing but read all Christmas:
“Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas Piketty
WARNING: Not even I have finished this book yet. Piketty’s dense treatise on economics, compiling an all-encompassing set of economic data dating back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, is the nonfiction book to read if you’re looking to do nothing but read over the winter holidays. Coming in at almost 700 pages long, devoted readers are sure to spend some quality time with this gargantuan volume. I’ll hopefully be making my way through it as well, but for now, if you’re going to read this book, good luck and enjoy the wealth of data presented in the book!
Fiction book for those who want to do nothing but read all Christmas:
“Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace
WARNING NO. 2: I haven’t finished this book either. Over 1100 pages long, “Infinite Jest” is a novel that is famous for its intensity and difficulty in reading. However, all those who read this book make it clear that it is one of those beautifully written fiction books—but also one to which you need to devote the majority of your attention when you are reading it. With complex character development and relationships, and dense prose and writing, this fiction book is a work of art that you need to make an effort if you are to understand it. Good luck with that everyone! And click here to see a graphic of (nearly) all the character relationships in the book: http://www.sampottsinc.com/ij/file/IJ_Diagram.pdf
For those who want to bore themselves to death over Christmas:
The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer
With a bland, powerless female character, a plot that gets increasingly repetitive as you read through the series and an even blander movie series to accompany it, The Twilight Saga takes the top spot when it comes to boring books you could ever read. But then again, it’s winter break—if you’re one of those people that believe the point of winter break is to make yourself so bored that you actually want to go back to school again, this is the perfect series for you! Go read it—you’ll be begging for second semester to start early if you do.
Good luck with exams, and enjoy the winter break, everyone! Allons-y! Let’s go read!