Five books you won’t be able to put down this winter break

Collyn Burke

After a stressful finals season, there is nothing better than  sitting down to slip into a good book over winter break. Whether you’re looking for expertly written social commentary or immersive fantasy, these are the best books to read over winter break:

‘The Power’ by Naomi Alderman

Alderman’s “The Power” imagines a world in which women suddenly acquire the ability to electrocute people and thus outpower their male counterparts (finally). Alderman’s expertly written dystopian novel follows the perspective of five very different individuals as they navigate their new world. A troubled Jacksonville girl turns into a prophet, a spoiled young man becomes a fearful citizen journalist, and by the end of the book, their reality is nothing like it was before. While our world is just now seeing men held accountable for their actions of sexual misconduct, Alderman’s book asks the question: Are men to blame for the world’s problems, or is it the power they’ve always held?

‘Alias Grace’ by Margaret Atwood

Alias Grace is Atwood’s take on the true story of Grace Marks, an Irish-born Canadian who, in 1843, was accused and arrested for the murders of Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery. Atwood’s novel uses the bones of the historical case and marries it with the story of fictional doctor Simon Jordan, who, in his research of the case, finds himself emotionally attached to Grace. The spellbinding novel keeps readers on their toes trying to figure out the truth of Grace’s case: Was she guilty? And if she was, can she really be blamed for her actions?

‘The Underground Railroad’ by Colson Whitehead 

Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer prize for fiction, Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad” follows the story of two slaves, Cora and Caesar. Cora, who is an outcast even among the slaves, tries to obtains her freedom by escaping her plantation using the Underground Railroad, which in Whitehead’s world is an actual underground train. Whitehead’s brilliant prose gives life to Cora’s Odyssey-esque adventure that will take you on a whirlwind of emotions. With our current political climate there is hardly anything so needed as the narratives of black women. If you somehow missed this book in the past year, now is the time to read it.

‘Fish in Exile’ by Vi Khi Nao

Poet Vi Khi Nao takes a turn with prose in her first novel “Fish in Exile,” which follows Catholic and Ethos, two parents who are trying to navigate the loss of both of their young children. Nao puts her poetry skill to use by giving larger meaning to every small aspect of her story, down to the names of her characters, which allude to the ways they interact with their environment. Unlike many traditional authors, Nao’s depiction of grief doesn’t read artificial or overworked, but true, painful and occasionally completely confusing. Nao’s novel is not a conventional story, but an experience of what it is like to live with the pain of loss.

‘A Darker Shade of Magic’ by V.E. Schwab 

Parallel cities, magic and dangerous secrets create an addictive world in Schwab’s “A Darker Shade of Magic.” Schwab crafts a world in which there are four separate universes, each their own version of London with a varying degree of magic. The story follows magician Kell, who has the rare ability to travel within and through these Londons —  a gift that soon leads him to trouble. Schwab’s story provides its reader with the perfect escape into a world far from our own.