Winter Reading List: What I’m Reading Right Now

I’ve always been a bookworm, so during my winter break, I spent dozens of nights pouring over new books. Some of them were books I’ve had on my bookshelf for years and wanted to pick up again, but most were brand-new books I purchased just last month. They’re all extremely different, from both the publication date to the overall content, but I’ve fallen in love with everything I’m reading so far. And maybe, you will too!

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First and foremost, I’ve been weirdly interested in American history lately. I never enjoyed history in class in high school, which I mainly attribute to having boring teachers combating my flaming ADHD. I feel like history class should feel like storytelling, not a dull lecture, and that’s exactly why history class turned me off. Now that I’ve graduated from high school and started to pursue my own interests, I realize that I actually am interested in knowing about history and what turned our country into what it is now. I picked up this book, America: The Last Best Hope. I’m not really a big fan of the author or his politics, but his book is really interesting. Like I said, I’m interested in history presented as storytelling, and that’s exactly what this book does. Because of this book, I’m now super into the American Revolution, the Boston Tea Party, and all that jazz. It’s kind of nostalgic, too, because I remember being interested in American history when I was very young. Overall, I give this book an 8/10- the only thing I don’t like is William J. Bennett himself.

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Another book I’ve been glued to lately is The Witch Elm by Tana French. I’ve read another one of her books before- In The Woods, to be exact, and was absolutely obsessed with it. There’s something so unique and tangible about her writing; you feel like you’re in the middle of a real crime television show. You end up getting emotionally attached and involved with the characters, which makes the actual plot twists all the more devastating. If you enjoy Stephen King, you’re bound to love her novels (King himself enjoys her books, too!). I’m only about a third of the way through the book, but so far, I’m giving it a 9/10.

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The Woman in White is a book I’ve owned for about three years, but never really gotten into. I’m giving it another shot, and it seems to be going along well this time! I think the biggest problem I had with this book when I got first tried reading it is its slow-paced nature. The book was published in 1860, which explains the complex language and objectively “boring” plot, but once you get into it, the book is actually quite interesting. The Woman in White is widely regarded as being the first mystery novel, even before Sherlock Holmes. It’s a nice, spooky book to read on a rainy night, and I’d have to give it an 8/10 so far. I’m only about a third of the way through, so we’ll see how the book progresses…

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Speaking of spooky books, I’m also currently reading Ghostly Tales: Spine-Chilling Stories of the Victorian Age. You might recognize the title from another article I wrote, where I recommended this book as a Christmas gift. The book is a compilation of a handful of stories, and includes works from Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I wouldn’t say all of the short stories are necessarily scary, but they are definitely mysterious and compelling. The book also inspired me to do some additional research on the authors- that’s how interested I got in the stories. I’m so close to being finished with the entire book, and at this point, I feel certified to give it a 10/10.

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On a happier, more light-hearted note, I recently started reading one of the more adorable books of all time. It’s called Pilgrim of Tinker Creek, and essentially, it’s just an observation on nature/life/theology by Annie Dillard. I’ve actually just recently become interested in nonfiction work, like history, philosophy, psychology, and…The Bermuda Triangle? I don’t know what category that falls under. Conspiracy theories? Pilgrim of Tinker Creek is narrated like a personal journal, and essentially contemplates the shifts of life as the seasons change. It’s a really beautiful book, and I’m so happy I decided to pick it up. 10/10 from me!

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Like I just said, I’m getting increasingly interested in books about philosophy and sociology. If you’ve seen Ever After, the 1998 film starring Drew Barrymore, you might recognize Utopia as the book Danielle cherishes. That’s honestly the primary reason I started reading Utopia– I loved Ever After growing up, and wanted to understand Danielle’s love for the book. It’s definitely challenging to read, considering it originally written in Latin and translated to English in the early 1500s, but I do genuinely enjoy reading it. It’s fascinating how the morals and notions in the book are still relevant in society- crime, punishment, power dynamics, etc. I might not fully understand every sentence of every page, but I’m getting the basic idea, and I do feel like I’m learning a lot about societal issues from the book. 8/10; I’m deducting 2 points for not being an annotated text. The only modern print publication I could find of Utopia is kind of shoddy and poorly arranged, so just keep that in mind if you want to buy a copy yourself. You might be able to find it easier as a PDF, because the entire publication is only about eighty pages. 

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I, like many others, had to read Macbeth as a part of my high school curriculum (and yes, like many others, I despised it at the time). However, as I looked back on that experience, I realized that I actually did really enjoy the book. Yeah, it’s about the gruesome murder of King Duncan, but it’s also absolutely hilarious and satirical. Most versions of the book are also annotated, so you can translate the Shakespearean language as you read along. Side note: I recently became aware of a conspiracy theory that Shakespeare didn’t write any of his own work, and it’s REALLY compelling. Look it up!! Also, the book gets 9/10. 1 point deducted for being difficult to read, but hey, that’s what you have to expect when you pick up a Shakespeare play.

Anyway, that’s everything I’m simultaneously reading right now. I usually read one chapter of each book every night, which takes about 1.5-2 hours total. People are amazed when I tell them this, and can’t believe I don’t get the stories confused, but it genuinely really relaxes me to read multiple books at once. Does anybody else do this? Let me know below!

Coming up next: What’s in Season for the Month of February?


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