Thanksgiving Reading List: Four Books to Start and Finish This Break

Not having class isn’t enough to truly feel like you’re on a break from the hustle and bustle of college. Sometimes what you need to get away from the stress of the semester is to leave this world completely. My favorite way to do that is to tuck into a good book. Below are a few books that are perfect for doing just that.

Marina Keegan’s “The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories”
Publisher’s Blurb: “An affecting and hope-filled posthumous collection of essays and stories from the talented young Yale graduate whose title essay captured the world’s attention in 2012 and turned her into an icon for her generation.”

Unfortunately, the author of this book of essays and stories tragically passed away just five days after she graduated magna cum laude from Yale University. I know this collection was certainly on everyone’s radar when it was published and Keegan’s story went viral. But how many of you actually read it? I did, and I must say it was inspiring, and not simply because of its author’s tragic fate. Keegan’s prose is delicate and gripping. Each entry will make you think a little bit more than the last. By the end of the work, you will be inspired enough to make it through those final weeks of the semester when everything seems as if it is crushing your soul.

Mindy Kaling’s “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?”
Publisher’s Blurb: “In ‘Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?’ Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door — not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.”

I had a hard time choosing between Kaling’s most recent work of essays, “Why Not Me?,” and her 2011 book of essays “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” I ultimately decided that her 2011 effort is perfect for the holiday season. Each essay will leave you laughing harder than the last, and if you’ve ever watched “The Office” you will laugh even harder than that. The type of laughter and happiness will be helpful during those moments when you just cannot deal with your extended family anymore. Sneaking away to read Mindy Kaling might even put you in a better mood altogether. After reading this book you will come back to campus refreshed and ready to power through the rest of the semester.

Marisha Pessl’s “Night Film”:
Publisher’s Summary: “On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova — a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years. For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence. Though much has been written about Cordova’s dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself. Driven by revenge, curiosity and a need for the truth, McGrath, with the aid of two strangers, is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova’s eerie, hypnotic world. The last time he got close to exposing the director, McGrath lost his marriage and his career. This time he might lose even more. “Night Film,” the gorgeously written, spellbinding new novel by the dazzlingly inventive Marisha Pessl, will hold you in suspense until you turn the final page.”

When I read the final page of this captivating novel by Marisha Pessl I was blown away. It is that good. At once creepy, introspective and altogether masterful, “Night Film” will leave you on the edge of your seat from the moment you turn its first page. What’s even better about this novel is that it uses a sort of multimedia approach to telling the story, using newspaper clippings and the like to aid in the authentic feeling the novel provides. Read this novel if you’re in the mood to be completely enthralled for a couple of days.

Hanya Yanagihara’s “A Little Life”
Publisher’s Summary: “A Little Life” follows four college classmates — broke, adrift and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition — as they move to New York in search of fame and fortune. While their relationships, which are tinged by addiction, success and pride, deepen over the decades, the men are held together by their devotion to the brilliant, enigmatic Jude, a man scarred by an unspeakable childhood trauma. A hymn to brotherly bonds and a masterful depiction of love in the twenty-first century, Hanya Yanagihara’s stunning novel is about the families we are born into, and those that we make for ourselves.”

Fun fact: Yanagihara is a Smith graduate. Another fun fact: This book will tear you to pieces, step on the pieces, tape the pieces back together, then throw the tattered page into the fire. I am not kidding. I read this book a couple of weeks ago and I am almost certain that it will stay with me for the rest of my life. At a whopping 832 pages, “A Little Life” is daunting, but I promise that you’ll fly through it, if only to find out what horrible thing will happen next. After reading it, I promise you can come to me and cry on my shoulder. You’ll need it.