UT students share book recommendations to relax during winter break

Sofia Treviño, Life and Arts Reporter

After a long, stressful semester, The Daily Texan compiled a list of books students recommended to read to wind down during winter break. Grab some hot chocolate, put on your favorite Christmas pajamas and dive in!

“This Boy’s Life: A Memoir” by Tobias Wolff

Even though he read “This Boy’s Life: A Memoir” by Tobias Wolff three years ago, Paul Han still thinks about the captivating storytelling and coming-of-age themes found in the novel, centered around a young Wolff who constantly moves around with his mother after she separates from her husband.

“It reminds me of my childhood because I lived with my single mom, too,” said Han, an electrical and computer engineering sophomore. “She has to work really hard to put food on the table … He got right to the heart of growing up.”

Han recommends this book to college students because they can relate to navigating teenage years. After a trying semester, Han said he encourages students to read after finals to relax.

“Life moves at a ridiculously quick pace in college,” Han said. “Reading a book and slowing down is a good way to stimulate your mind but mentally relax.”

“Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro

After initially reading “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro in March for class, journalism freshman Shaye Wattson changed her perspective of the novel from a boring school assignment to realizing it’s one of her favorite reads. The dystopian story follows protagonist Kathy during her time in Hailsham — an English boarding school — and what she learns about Hailsham years later.

Wattson said she recommends readers to go into the book knowing little about the plot in order to unravel the mystery themselves. However, the found family trope Ishiguro incorporated drew Wattson in as she related it to the family she’s found in the LGBTQ+ community.

“Most queer people relate to having found family within the LGBTQ+ community,” Wattson said. “You definitely feel like a bit of an outcast, so I think a lot of people find comfort in the found family trope and finding themselves with their friends.”

In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead

Siddhi Patadia, a biochemistry and computer science senior, recommends “In My Dreams I Hold a Knife” by Ashley Winstead. Told at a 10 year high school reunion, following Jessica Miller and her five old friends, the group begins to reveal each other’s secrets in an attempt to figure out how their friend was murdered in high school. Patadia said as a college student she found themes of perfectionism and hiding authentic personalities relatable.

“Jess felt so pressured to have her personality under a veil of perfection that it forced her to make a lot of bad decisions,” Patadia said. “You might want to be the best you can be, but the steps you take to get there are very crucial in determining your character. You don’t want to lose yourself along the way.”

With two timelines, as well as alternating and unreliable narrators, Patadia said the pacing allowed her to immerse herself fully into the story, consequently becoming an intriguing quick read. Especially for the winter break, Patadia said reading can reduce stress and help bond with family and friends after discussions.

“Reading is a great outlet to spend my downtime,” Patadia said. “I’m able to go into a different world and immerse myself in the characters … In terms of going back home with your family (for) the holidays, buddy reading (lets) you read a book together. It can be really useful to have discussions (and) a good way to bond with your family.”