Winter Break Reads

Book Recommendations for Break


Rosangel Flores-Rubio

Esther Puderbaugh

Esther Puderbaugh, A&E and Opinion Editor

Emma by Jane Austen

A classic for a reason. Is arguably everything an Austen novel should be: full of wit and complicated Regency-era relationship dynamics. The novel takes place in Regency-era England and follows meddlesome Emma Woodhouse through a year in her life. Austen famously described the character of Emma as “a heroine whom no one but myself will much like”. Funnily enough, Emma has since become one of the most beloved Austen heroines. Also, the 2020  adaptation of Emma by Autumn de Wilde is one of my favorite films. Gorgeous costumes, great soundtrack, and Anya Taylor-Joy. But I digress. 

Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver, being the prolific poet that she was, also happened to write beautiful prose. This is a collection of essays from throughout Oliver’s life. Topics range from reflections on her life to essays about other poets who were influential to her work to her thoughts on art. Fundamentally, Upstream is Oliver’s love letter to nature. Reading Upstream is a good alternative to taking a hike through Hickory Hill in the bitter cold. 

Consent: A Memoir by Vanessa Springora

An incredibly important book: Consent is the story of complicity around a pedophilic relationship between the author and a revered French writer. Incredibly harrowing and haunting, Springora’s personal narrative is imperative. Springora’s prose are, to me, reminiscent of Joan Didion’s prose: cool, clean, and unflinching. Springora’s story will stick with you for a long time. 

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

A 2020 Pulitzer Prize finalist, The Dutch House is simply an excellent read. The novel follows a brother and his sister and their relationship with their childhood home. When put like that, it sounds kind of boring. However, Patchett’s prose and her ability to create sympathetic characters really sets The Dutch House apart. If you like the last great american dynasty by Taylor Swift, this is for you. 

The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House by Audre Lorde

A self-described “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, and poet”, The Master’s Tools… by Audre Lorde is a necessary collection of essays for young people. Lorde’s voice is incredibly fresh even though pieces of this collection are nearly fifty years old. The essays highlight the dire need for intersectionality in the overturning of the patriarchy and how tolerance is not something to settle for in the journey to embracing and celebrating diversity.  

Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis by Wendy Cope

This poetry collection has the most cozy winter title I have seen. Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis is by one of my favorite poets, Wendy Cope. This is her debut collection and while it isn’t my favorite of her work it is still quite good. Her wry and whip-smart voice shines throughout all of her work. The highlights of this collection are her parodies of famous works by other poets and her witty commentary on daily life.