As the first few weeks of classes wind down and the mountains of textbook readings pile up, why not take a break from that political theory you don’t want to read and dive into some new and exciting books? Arts and Entertainment has got you covered! This month, allow yourself some good, old-fashioned escapism from the stress of the new semester and check out one — or all — of these picks.
“Where the Crawdads Sing”
The first pick for this month — “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens — has inhabited the New York Times Best Sellers List for a whopping 72 weeks, catching the eye of the nation with its intriguing storyline and unique twist on the classic murder mystery trope. Set in a small coastal town in 1969, this novel follows the life of Kya Clark, a young woman who has grown up in isolation in the marsh of the North Carolina coast. When a murder shakes the population of the town out of its sleepy lull, Kya is singled out as a suspect. Owens — a retired wildlife biologist — broke through the barrier of typical book sale trends with the release of “Where the Crawdads Sing,” outdoing the 2019 book releases of long-standing popular authors Margaret Atwood, John Grisham and Stephen King. The unassuming novel has exploded in national popularity, generating massive interest and maintaining its evident staying power. This book is worth the read, even if only to investigate the hype surrounding its publication and to decide for yourself whether it is worthy of the fame.
“Comes with Furniture and People”
Another pick for February is the recently released “Comes with Furniture and People” by Charlotte Matthews, a University alumna, associate professor and Crozet resident — a local talent in all aspects. The memoir by the award-winning poet centers around the experience of growing up in Washington, D.C., intertwined with introspective questions concerning loss, motherhood and sickness. This book’s local flair — in terms of author and content — is appealing for both the abundance of students hailing from D.C.-adjacent Northern Virginia, as well as out-of-state students who wish to learn about the Washington-area experience through the perspective of one woman’s journey. Whether the book sparks a feeling of familiarity or novelty, its value comes not only in its entertainment factor, but also in its inherent support of the endeavors of local writers — a reminder that Charlottesville hosts artistry both within the University and in the surrounding area.
“Little Fires Everywhere”
Though not a recent release, the novel “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng earns itself a place on the list through its incredibly potent style and lasting effect. Published in 2017, “Little Fires Everywhere” tracks the life of the idyllically nuclear Richardson family, whose everyday routines stumble into disorder with the arrival of single mother Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl. As the connections between the two families become more and more complex and interlocked, a local controversy over the adoption of a Chinese-American baby by a white couple threatens to unravel everything the Richardsons know to be true. Devastatingly empathetic and thought-provoking, “Little Fires Everywhere” will remain in the back of your mind long after you finish reading it. The novel is surprising, heartfelt and infinitely compelling — it wrings out the intimate details of everyday life and lays them out as singular and exciting. If the book still is not yet appealing enough, a television adaptation is set to be released on Hulu in late March, starring powerhouses Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. To truly appreciate the source material for the series before it is inevitably dissected on camera, now is the time to pick up a copy.