Arts & Entertainment

Books to binge this February

By: Mo Juenger, World News editoR

After a whirlwind start to this peculiar semester, we’re all once again feeling it: the mid-semester slump. For me, this came on a bit earlier than expected this year. With classes predominantly online and little face-to-face interaction with peers, it’s easy to start falling behind on work. 

This February, I encourage you to fight the slump with me as part of my 2021 New Year’s Resolution. Instead of bingeing new television or video games, fight the slump with books that remind you why you like being at college. Whether you miss big parties, lunches out with the girls or just in-person office hours, there’s a book to fill that hole.

For those who miss bonfires:

For me, this has been the primary FOMO I’ve felt during quarantine. Kickbacks, bonfires and small outdoor gatherings with friends have been few and far between for fear of COVID-19 transmission. Anyone looking to feel at one with nature — and maybe misses those outdoor moments with a few good friends — will find solace in Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. 

Though the book starts out focusing on protagonist Kya’s isolation in the North Carolina marshland, the story blossoms into a romance as Kya yearns to learn about love and connection. Intertwined with her coming-of-age story is the tale of murder in a nearby town, for which Kya quickly becomes a suspect. 

A fast-paced novel, Owens’ debut is genreless and magical. To be honest, fans of most things will love this book; it’s incredibly easy to love. In particular, folks who enjoyed the mixture of Southern gothic style and readability of Jon Berendt’s hit Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil will have no trouble diving into this marshy masterpiece.  

For the one who misses frat parties:

If your typical Friday night involved two Ubers — only one of which you remember — then Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls is for you. Set in the 1960s, split between New York and Los Angeles, this book delves into the party lifestyle of businessmen, actresses and the elites with whom they schmooze. 

The book revolves around a core group of frenemies who bash each other’s plastic surgeries, pill addictions and rampant alcoholism. Reminiscent of modern reality television without the branding and social media influences, Susann’s magnum opus will scratch the gossipy-melodrama itch that many of us have felt. Fans of The Wolf of Wall Street and any Real Housewives show will enjoy this. 

for the one who misses in-person labs:

Though relegated to a very unique few, some students are feeling intellectually understimulated throughout this odd period of online learning. For these brainiacs, I recommend American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of the American CSI by Kate Winkler Dawson. 

The book is segmented into true-crime vignettes; chapters focusing on the personal life and academic rise to stardom of Edward Oscar Heinreich, the book’s protagonist and titular Sherlock, are interspersed with stories of crimes that his forensic techniques solved. 

I’d recommend this to anyone who has been overconsuming true crime throughout the pandemic and now cannot sleep at night for fear of strange and obscure murderers. The book will appeal in particular to fans of Forensic Files and My Favorite Murder.  

For the one who misses home:

Fannie Flagg’s 2020 semi-sequel The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop is a pick for anyone who’s missing the cozy vibes of home. The book is imbued with nostalgic passages that can make you smell mom’s cooking, remember snuggling up with your favorite pet and smile at the noisy, messy wonderfulness of family. 

The protagonist, rambunctious Bud Threadgoode, gets into mishaps and mayhem throughout the novel, much to the disapproval of his prim and proper mother, while to the excitement of his wild Aunt Idgie. A coming-of-age story with small-town humor and tragedy, Wonder Boy is an easy all-night read when you need the comfort of home. 

I’d recommend this book for anyone who has ever enjoyed watching Little House on the Prairie reruns with their grandmother, or anyone who just really needs a hug. 

Photo courtesy of writingcooperative.com

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