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A bookworm’s guide to surviving break

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Winter break is quickly approaching, and for me, that means one thing: books. During the semester, reading for pleasure consistently gets put on the back burner in favor of reading about French cathedrals, Anglo-Saxon England or Aristotle. My pile of books to read has been steadily growing all semester, and my goal is to read 10 of those by the time classes start up again in January.

I invite you to join me in using the newfound free time that comes with the end of the semester to dive into the beauty of long-form, text-based narrative. And, as an avid reader and self-proclaimed bibliophile, I’m here to recommend some books to read while cuddled in bed with some hot chocolate over break.

“The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien

The first part of the movie comes out on Dec. 14. Read the book before you see it. Tolkien is the master of fantasy, and there’s nothing like a good adventure across Middle Earth to inspire you and warm your soul when stuck inside from the cold. While you’re at it, you should probably just read the entirety of “The Lord of the Rings,” but fair warning: your list might end there. It will take a while.

“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green

Time Magazine just named John Green’s latest the best book of 2012, beating out the likes of J.K. Rowling and Zadie Smith with his beautiful and witty story of two teenagers with cancer. Not to be mistaken as a “cancer book,” which the protagonist Hazel Lancaster classifies as full of clichés and unfounded optimism, this story’s hopefulness comes from its rawness and honesty.

“The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling

Speaking of J.K. Rowling, her first non-Potter book came out a few months ago, and I’m betting you didn’t get the chance to read all 503 pages yet. Heavy in both weight and subject matter, “The Casual Vacancy” is the exact opposite of “Harry Potter.” This book is not for everyone, but those interested in seeing what the writer who shaped our generation of readers can do outside of Hogwarts should give this a chance.

“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Even though the film adaptation of this classic got pushed all the way from its original Christmas release date to summer 2013, the original novel never wavers in its haunting metaphors and commentary on social classes. And if that sounds like too much literature class for your winter break, I promise it is neither long nor difficult to read. Plus, who doesn’t love a Gatsby party?

“Bossypants” by Tina Fey

Tina Fey is always hilarious. Read her.

“Divergent” and “Insurgent” by Veronica Roth

The “Divergent” series is here to fulfill that dystopian hunger that’s been brewing inside all of us ever since we finished “The Hunger Games.” In this futuristic Chicago-based world, society is split into five factions, each oriented around a specific value: Candor (honesty), Abnegation (selflessness), Dauntless (courage), Amity (peace), and Erudite (knowledge). The protagonist, Beatrice Prior, must decide if she wants to betray her family by switching to the faction in which she feels she truly belongs. Filled to the brim with competition, tension, and betrayal, this story will not conclude until the third book is released in fall 2013.

“Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury

Let’s return to the classics of the dystopian novel. In honor and memory of the author who refused to be boxed into one genre, my last recommendation is by Ray Bradbury, who died this past summer. “Fahrenheit 451” presents a futuristic America in which books are outlawed and burned by firemen. If you’re one of the few who did not have to read this book in high school, pick it up now and commemorate the life of one of the most celebrated authors of the twentieth century.

That should keep you busy.

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