Spring break is a great time to unwind and get back into the habit of reading. However, many of us may go into spring break with that intent but never get around to it. Don’t fret though — it’s never too late to get started. I have carefully crafted and compiled a list of books from all genres that tackle relatable issues that you can apply in your own life. I personally found these books to be incredibly engaging and informative.
1. “Wish You Were Here” by Jodi Picoult
Published during the pandemic, “Wish you Were Here” follows the story of Diana O’Toole, a woman who has her life perfectly mapped out until an unexpected virus leaves her alone on an island where she begins contemplating her relationships, her decisions and ultimately herself. A story of vulnerability, self-exploration and the power of the human spirit, this emotional novel will certainly leave you in your feels. As we all experienced the ups and downs of the pandemic and spent ample time thinking introspectively alone in quarantine, I’m sure each of us can find ways to relate to Diana’s illuminating story of self-realization.
2. “Endurance” by Alfred Lansing
Certainly a tougher read, “Endurance” is a novel written in 1959 about Ernest Shakleton’s 1914 voyage to Antarctica. Following the two-year struggle for survival that was endured by 28 crew members, the novel follows the crew’s journey on the ship “Endurance,'' detailing the hardships and challenges faced throughout their expedition in one of the toughest environments in the world. For those of you who are interested in the history of exploration and adventure, this is definitely the read for you. Not only will this book provide you with a fuller understanding of the triumphs of leadership and teamwork, it will also inspire you to brave the adversities and challenges in your own life.
3. “The Girls” by Emma Cline
A young teenager, Evie Boyd, is captivated by the free-spirited, defiant nature of a group of young women whom she encounters in a park one day. Loosely based on the story of the Manson cult in the late 1960s, this coming-of-age story explores a young Californita teenager’s anxieties surrounding adolescence and the confining temptations of love, drugs and ultimately, violence. As Evie begins to spend more and more time away from home, she finally begins to feel accepted in her new environment — but at what cost? An enthralling story about teenage consciousness and the difficulties that come with growing up, this novel will have you reflecting on your own experience of maturing into a young adult and establishing a moral compass.
4. “Dopesick” by Beth Macy
“Dopesick” explores the origins and impact of America’s opioid crisis, investigating the persuasive forces that led American doctors and patients to adopt a culture in which over-prescribing painkillers became the norm in the medical environment. In a compelling story about greed, desire and need, Macy embarks on the journey of answering a mourning mother’s question as to why her son died.This book proves to be extremely relevant in the current moment as victims of opioid abuse confront Purdue Pharma’s Sackler family — the family that is at the center of this deadly opioid epidemic. If you are at all interested in this history of the opioid crisis, this is definitely the book for you.
5. “The Paper Palace” by Miranda Cowley Heller
In a story that unfolds over the course of 24 hours, a 50 year-old, married mother named Elle finds herself in a predicament after an encounter with her oldest childhood friend which leaves her torn between the life she has created with her husband and the life she has always imagined herself having. Cowley gives us a deeply reflective story as she explores the battle between desire and integrity, the persistence of childhood and the uncertainties of the human experience. Perfect for getting in touch with your romantic side, this enchanting story will certainly keep you turning its pages as it prompts you to reflect on your own conflicting feelings and emotions.
6. “Educated” by Tara Westover
In Tara Westover’s memoir, “Educated,” she reflects on her childhood growing up in a survivalist Mormon household run by her father, Gene, who believed the U.S. government was a corrupt system. A powerful and inspiring story, Tara’s hunger for knowledge as she moves from rural Idaho to Cambridge University pushes her to face new realities amidst fresh surroundings and experiences. As students at the University, I’m sure many of us have come to understand the enlightening experiences and self-independence that a college experience grants us. As you read Tara’s story, I’m sure you will find yourself reflecting on your own college experience and how it has given you a larger, more diverse perspective of the world.
7. “Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah
Capturing a monumental moment in history, Kristin Hannah explores the chronicles of World War II through the lens of two sisters. After Vianna is forced to say goodbye to her husband as he heads for the Front, she must do everything to protect herself and her daughter when their home is requisitioned by a German captain. Her defiant 18-year-old sister Isabelle searches for meaning in her life amidst the unknown panics of war. The two sisters, separated not only by age and experience, but by their values and passions, each embark on their own journeys of survival, love and freedom in war-ravaged France. If you are at all interested in the history of World War II, this is the novel for you. You might not be able to relate to living in and through a war, however, you will find a new meaning of resiliency and bravery as the sisters confront the extreme adversities brought about the war as you begin to imagine yourself in their shoes. This experience makes the book a worthwhile read in and of itself.
8. “Writers and Lovers” by Lily King
Struck by her mother’s sudden death and the turmoil of her recent love affair, 31-year-old Casey Peabody arrives in Massachusetts in the summer of 1997 with no plans for her future. Waiting tables at a nearby restaurant and renting a small, rundown apartment room, Casey spends her free time working on her novel — a novel she has been writing for nearly six years. Determined to build a creative, fulfilling life for herself, Casey’s future becomes further complicated when she simultaneously falls in love with two distinct men. Battling to balance her creative ambitions with her personal life, Lily King explores the notions of desire and loss, creativity and imagination and love and grief in this compelling, inspiring novel. For those of you who have a hunger for creativity, “Writers and Lovers” is the read for you.
9. “The Authenticity Project” by Clare Pooley
Julian Jessop, a lonely, elderly artist ponders the question, “What if most people were really honest with each other?” Writing the truths of his own life story in a plain, green notebook and placing it in a local cafe, Julian hopes to uncover something about the human experience. Subsequently, several strangers discover the journal and decide to contribute their own truths. The story kicks off when the strangers encounter one another at Monica’s café. A thought-provoking and cleverly written story, “The Authenticity Project” will certainly strike a chord with you as it prompts you to think about your own life experience in relation to that of the characters. The playful and glittering humor that persists throughout the book will keep you intrigued as well. This uplifting and endearing story is perfect for those of you looking for a lighter read.
10. “A Slow Fire Burning” by Paula Hawkins
After a young man by the name of Daniel Sutherland is found brutally murdered in his London houseboat, three women who have unique and complicated relationships to him are suddenly brought into question. Laura, a woman with whom Daniel had a one-night-stand and was last seen in his home, Carla, his anguished aunt who is already grieving over the recent death of another family member and Miriam, the prying neighbor who is withholding secrets from the police, are all suspects boiling with bitterness. In this murder mystery, Hawkins explores just how long secrets can be hidden before they explode into a fire. Although you have probably never been involved in a murder mystery ever in your life — hopefully, that is — you will see a bit of your own personality in each of the unique suspects. On the other hand, this thriller of a murder mystery wil also enliven your inner cynic as you question each suspect’s story.