Booked for the holidays?

The season of breaks is coming up. Students get two weeks off in December, a four day weekend in January, and a long MLK weekend. There will finally be ample time to pursue that activity teachers always encourage, but give too much homework to have actual time to do: read. It’s the perfect time to curl up with a warm blanket and a cup of hot chocolate, all you need is the perfect book. Here are some suggestions:

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All the Light We Cannot See

by Anthony Doerr

This historical fiction novel, set mainly in France during WWII, follows two stories:  Marie-laure, a blind teenager who stays in her great-uncle’s house during the German occupation, and Werner, a german boy whose passion for fixing radios leads him through the german training system in pursuit of an engineering career. The stories interconnect at the end. While a captivating plot, the descriptions are what really make the book special. For over half the story all of the sensory details come from sound, smell, taste, and feel (being written from a blind girl’s perspective). Not only do the descriptions bring you into the story but they do so without the visual details that often make war novels hard to read. Very short chapters also aid the speed with which one can read the novel; Oh, the next chapter is just a page? I’d better read it. Like how you’d better read this book.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

by Alan Bradley

Eleven year-old girls, chemistry, death, old houses, poor sister relations, stamp collecting and bicycles are not my normal criteria for a book, but it turns out that they make a great mystery. Flavia de luce is a quirky tween who is obsessed with dead people and poisons, as well as pranking her sisters. Her character is original and tells the story of a dead man in her cucumber patch in an original way. And the whole time that she is investigating strange deaths, Flavia goes joyfully about in pigtails — it makes a fun contrast to all the somberness often found in murder mysteries. It’s not the what but the who that matters in this book, and the who is a pessimistic, self-centered girl has all the qualities to inspire hate but you end up loving. It also makes chemistry seem super interesting through Flavia’s enthusiasm for it. Juniors?

Corduroy Mansions

by Alexander McCall Smith

“Corduroy Mansions” is for people who love to laugh (hopefully everyone). The first in a trilogy, it follows the lives of a handful of people whose experiences are right on the border of believable. From what happens when driving with too long of scarfs to mothers not thinking their son is perfect and misunderstood, Smith turns the mishaps of everyday life into enjoyable stories even if they wouldn’t necessarily be enjoyable experiences.  If you’re stuck at home and wanting to escape over the break, pick up Corduroy mansions and slip away to Pimlico, England where even the mundane is phrased in such a way to make it charming and comic.

The Name of the Wind

by Patrick Rothfuss

The mass of this book may at first seem daunting, but the 662 pages fly all too fast while following the musician and sorcerer, Kovothe, through his adolescence. Written as an account of a bartender telling his story, you know that the  main character survives (always a plus) but the plot and writing still brings you into the suspense of his life from circus performer, to orphaned thief on the streets, to lyre player, to magic student seeking revenge for his parents. Kovothe is the kind of character you sometimes want to knock off his high horse but who you still root for, especially as the book starts and ends with “the patient, cut flower sound of a man who is waiting to die.” It’s nice to know that he won’t stay egotistic his whole life. Read this book if you’re a of fan epic fantasies and enjoy “The Lord of the Rings”, “The Wizard of Earthsea,” or other novels of that type.

Ghettoside

by Jill Leovy

For those who like detective stories, Ghettoside is a reporting approach to that classic genre. The author, a writer for the Los Angeles Times, spent over a year investigating the homicides that took place in her city and residing in the Los Angeles Police Department observing homicide detectives doing their work. The book she wrote followed these detectives in their work and mixed in the statistics she discovered surrounding country-wide and city-wide homicide rates. While nonfiction, this isn’t a book that reads like a history textbook; it deals with the current and controversial issues surrounding the black deaths that happen in the U.S. and specifically in the Watts section of L.A. every year. Super informative and if you’re interested in social issues, highly recommended.

 

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny: Detectives Extraordinaire

by Polly Horvath

This is an ageless read though especially great to share with younger siblings. Rabbits, marmots, the daughter of hippies, foxes, and secret recipes take the lead in the story. Mr. and Mrs. Bunny, your classic middle-aged couple, get a little more excitement in their life with the purchasing of fedoras (owning a fedora and not being a detective just isn’t allowed). With the absurdness of the book you can tell that Horvath had fun writing the story and consequently it’s fun to read. You can’t have a complete childhood until this book has been experienced. Better start reading, adulthood is looming.

Picture by Sylvie Corwin


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