My ideal leisure time involves reading good books. I can’t wait to start my vacation this Friday, to turn off my science brain and read my way through the big pile of library books on my coffee table!
This year, I have managed to finish sixty-two books (so far). They weren’t all winners, but some were excellent and I found it difficult to put them down once I had started to read them. So if you’re looking for a book to read during your own winter break – or if you’re looking for a last-minute Christmas gift for someone else who loves to read – check out these titles:
We Are Never Meeting In Real Life by Samantha Irby
- These essays are hilarious, but also surprisingly heartfelt? I felt things
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
- It’s a compilation of incredibly compassionate advice columns. If you like to read about other people’s problems AND aspire to become a better person, check this book out
On Writing Well by William Zinsser
- I was surprised (but in retrospect, maybe shouldn’t have been) by how fun it was to read this classic book about the craft of nonfiction writing
Thunder and Lightning by Natalie Goldberg
- This book is less about the craft of writing and more about using personal writing as a meditative practice
Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer
- A gorgeous book about writing fantastical fiction, full of strange and inspiring exercises and illustrations
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
- I can’t believe it took me until this year to read this novel, but here I am. I now fully understand why people call Sylvia Plath a genius
The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu
- This is the story of a group of girls that went go through a life-altering experience at summer camp, and it follows them as they grow into different women. There were some tough/difficult/heavy passages, but I still had a hard time putting it down
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
- A journalist returns to her small hometown to report on a series of homicides and confront the darkness in her past. A gripping story from the same author as Gone Girl.
Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney
- I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, so I’ll just say that 1) it’s a thriller, 2) with an unreliable first-person narrator. If you liked Gone Girl, you’ll probably like this one too
Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
- This story combines horror and science-fiction and is told through multiple point-of-view characters (which, in horror, just means that none of them are safe). It strongly reminded me of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park – but with deadly mermaids instead of dinosaurs
- These three extremely hard to put down books are set in a version of Los Angeles with portals to the Faerie Lands. The library shelved these books in the crime fiction and suspense section instead of the fantasy section, but they could fit in either genre.
- Another book series that straddles the thriller and science-fiction genres. How else would you classify a main character who is an FBI agent and also needs to use a robotic chassis to walk around in the world?
Artemis by Andy Weir
- It’s basically a heist movie set on the Moon. A fun sci-fi read from the author of The Martian
Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
- This book has everything: artificial intelligence/robots, consequences of climate change, pharmaceutical piracy!
The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
- A Young Adult novel (so: fairly easy read) with more consequences of climate change and artificial intelligence – but this time, the AI took over the world and took hostage the children of world leaders.
All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
- A book about parallel universes and the consequences of time travel, told in very short chapters. The mood and tone of the first part of the book reminded me of the mood during the last part of Lev Grossman’s The Magician, but it ended on a far more optimistic note.
- I can’t believe it took me until this year to get started on Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, but here I am. It’s fine to read the Discworld series out of order, so if you’re in the mood for a fun book that lovingly mocks fantasy story tropes (or, in the case of Maskerade, every Andrew Lloyd Weber musical I was aware of) – go check it out!
I’m looking to build up a reading list for 2019, so if you can think of books that are similar to these titles, please write them down in the comments!
Header picture by @fanidee for GradLifeMcGill