A book a day keeps the doctor away: My favorite reads for the winter season

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Photo credit: Lola Lamberg

To get our eyes off the computer screen, it’s always a good idea to sit down with a good book and a hot drink. I hope you enjoy some of these reads which combine good writing with important topics such as personal, spiritual journeys and politics.

By Lola Lamberg, Editor-in-Chief

After what feels like the longest semester of my Archer career, the holiday season is finally upon us and winter break is just around the corner. Yes, we are still unfortunately in the middle of an emotionally draining pandemic so our regularly scheduled holiday activities with family and friends have come to a halt for this year (and hopefully this year only). However, my favorite way to cope with boredom without staring at a phone or computer screen until my eyes fall out is simply to read. After a semester of constant zooming, I’m ready to sit by the fire with some of my favorite books and escape into another reality. Here are some of my favorite reads that you can add to your winter break schedule.

Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston

Introduced to me by the wonderful Ms. Dohr in this year’s AP Literature class, “Their Eyes Were Watching God” is by talented and groundbreaking author Zora Neale Hurston who was also an anthropologist and filmmaker. The novel written in both standard English and Black Vernacular traces the journey of young protagonist Janie’s path to self-understanding, independence and true love. The novel has omnipresent symbolism involving nature which connects to fulfilling love and self-awareness throughout the book. “Their Eyes Were Watching God” is an outstanding piece of literature that we can all benefit from.

Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott

This coming-of-age novel is a classic and one I have read since I was young. The book follows the journey of the four March sisters — Meg, Beth, Jo and Amy — and their paths to marriage, love and finding their place in a traditional society. “Little Women” shows that female strength is truly something to admire and that women in society do not have to follow a traditional life path to be successful. The novel is a classic with a movie directed by Greta Gerwig to go along with it.

Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance

Written by author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance, “Hillbilly Elegy” is a personal memoir about living in poverty in the Rust Belt, more specifically in the city of Middletown, Ohio. Vance writes on his family history of poverty, laborious low-paying jobs and the “hillbilly culture” he equates with his family’s misfortune. Vance also discusses his escape from a world of drug addiction, abuse and social issues to his acceptance into Ohio State University and eventually Yale Law School. The memoir is an insightful look into the values and life in the Rust Belt of America and one man’s perspective on life after leaving. Vance’s memoir was made into a movie this year by Netflix directed by Ron Howard which garnered majority bad reviews — trust me, stick with the book.

The Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan

Written in 1989, “The Joy Luck Club” centers on the journey of four Chinese American families in San Fransisco, who start the Joy Luck Club to play the Chinese game of Mahjong which originated during the Qing dynasty in China. The story begins with four mothers meeting in a church in San Francisco in the 1940s. The narrative subsequently revolves around the mothers and their daughter; their stories are broken down into four major sections by author Tan. This strong piece of literature deals with the theme of the difficulties of maintaining one’s heritage when moving to a foreign country and the balance of still having love for your home country while adapting to a new one. The novel was made into a film in 1993 by director Wayne Wang.

1984” by George Orwell

Now, if you don’t mind a stress-inducing novel,  I recommend “1984” which is a classic that brings the reader into a shocking and terrifying dystopia where individualism is non-existent and most of the time, illegal. Through “1984,” Orwell, directly and indirectly, warns the reader about the dangers of totalitarianism and an authoritarian government through the constant use of symbolism and metaphor. The writing combined with the political messaging is so clever that you’ll get lost in Orwell’s chilling and alarming alternate reality.

I hope these novels give you a nice break from the stressors of day-to-life and expand your mind during a much needed winter break. Happy reading!