Book Recommendations for the New Year 

With the falling of snow in what has proven to be a cold new year, everyone is looking for ways to spend their time meaningfully. Cold chills keep people cozied up inside, unsure of what to do with the abundance of time the snow has provided. It’s the perfect time to crack the spine of a good new book! It can be difficult to navigate the literary world, but I have a few winter recommendations that might just resonate with you. “Babel” by R.F Kuang. A great dark academia read, “Babeltakes place in the bustling atmosphere of 19th-century Oxford. R.F. Kuang builds an immersive and enjoyable atmosphere of mystery, scholarship, and intrigue. We follow Robin Swift, born in Canton and rescued from the plague by an elusive languages professor at Oxford. In this fantastical version of England, the world is powered by silver, which when engraved with moribund languages produces magic effects. The issue is that only the wealthy can afford these delicacies which have the potential to cure disease and save lives. Outraged by this reality and his circumstances, Robin joins a secret society that helps smuggle the substance out of Oxford laboratories. A gorgeous tale of the power of language, “Babel” is an excellent winter read for all academics. “Under the Whispering Door” by TJ Klune“Under the Whispering Door” is a sweet story of love, laughter, and life after death. Wallace is an old grouch, who regrets most of the choices he made in life. When he wakes up at his funeral, he is (understandably) confused. He is sent to a tea shop in the middle of the woods, where spirits go to cross over. There, he meets Hugo, a sort of spirit guide, whose purpose is to help Wallace come to terms with his death. Unexpectedly, Wallace finds more vitality in death than he did in life. “Under the Whispering Door” deals heavily with themes of death, but it is such an inspiring story. Klune’s bright narrative style chases the darkness, which has the potential to thaw many frozen hearts. “The Secret History” by Donna Tart One New England College. One very selective Greek program. Five classmates. Too many secrets to count. “The Secret History” is a perfect read this time of year. Richard Papen decides to take a shot at his college’s Greek program but ends up in a cult-like friend group of potential murderers. Nothing is as it seems in this story. A majority of the action takes place in the middle of an intense winter, so the falling snow provides the perfect backdrop in which to read it. Tart has such a dynamic writing style that effortlessly captures the eccentric and obsessed vibe of the story. A commentary on the romanticization of academia, the story is engaging and thought-provoking from the first page. The reader will find solace and discomfort in the cast of characters, who are loveable and hateable at times. Absolute must-read!“Anxious People” by Fredrik Backman “Anxious People” is an exploration of the human condition. With a not-so-scary bank robber and a not-so-dangerous hostage situation, “Anxious People” is told in a series of connecting stories that beg the question, what does it mean to be human? Fredrik Backman’s style is so distinctive, his character descriptions so relatable, and his prose so magical. The story never plays out the way the reader expects it to, as Backman journeys on a constantly winding road that parallels most of our personal experiences. Certain to bring a joyful tear to your eye, “Anxious People” is a beautiful story that will restore a reader’s faith in humanity in the middle of a hopeless season. Circe by Madeline Miller 

Madeline Miller has mastered the art of the retelling. Famous online for her novel, “The Song of Achilles”, her writing is elegant, articulate, and respectful of the cultures it borrows from. “Circe” follows the daughter of Helios, Circe, as she navigates love, immortality, isolation, witchcraft, and motherhood. The book is as intellectually stimulating as it is suspenseful, and the reader cannot help but admire Circe despite her negative reputation. Many readers are hesitant to read Greek mythology retellings, as authors sometimes write in a manner that comes off as uneducated and insensitive. I have not found the same to be true for Madeline Miller, who writes accurately and considerately. A perfect read for when you are craving summer in the harsh winter months, “Circe” is a whimsical look into Greek culture and mythology.