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4 Books to Read Over Fall Break

As we know all too well, with the fall season comes Thanksgiving break and suddenly having to deal with family members you haven’t seen in a while. Family members who will try to get you out of your room so that they can judge your life choices and interrogate you with questions about your love life. If you’d like something to stare at while ignoring your aunt’s line of questioning, here’s a short list of some books to make the fall break a little more tolerable.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Starting off with the book that launched a whole new aesthetic, The Secret History has grown into a fall classic. This book is perfect for dark academics, murder mystery enthusiasts, and angsty young adults alike. Taking place at an elite New England college in the 80’s the book follows 19 year-old Richard Papen as he falls in with a closed-off, cultic group of Classics students. Although the story unfolds slowly, Donna Tartt makes sure to make every page worth it. Rife with beautifully intricate details and an aura of mystery, once you are pulled into the picturesque world that Tartt has created you can’t help but stay and wait for things to fall apart. Luckily, one doesn’t have to wait long before Tartt takes a knife and slashes this beautiful portrait of intelligentsia with an ugly truth about the consequences of chasing something that only looks perfect.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

For fans of the “Percy Jackson” series, the childhood friends-to-lovers trope, and getting your heart broken into a thousand pieces, Madeline Miller’s take on The Iliad reimagines the story of the Trojan War from the perspective of Achilles’ boyhood companion, Patroclus. Readers watch as the two boys meet, fall in love, and grow into men torn apart by war. However, don’t let yourself think that this novel is merely a romantic fanfiction, Miller stays true to the source material. The picture of youthful innocence makes you believe that our lovers might just make it, but once news comes of Helen of Troy’s kidnapping, it becomes clear just how it all ends. The beauty of this novel comes from how Miller leans heavily into the humanity of this ancient tale. Achilles was only half god after all. Romance, drama, poetic prose, what more could you need?

Fierce Fairytales by Nikita Gill

These fairytales are different. Damsels were in distress, but they can save themselves. Stepmothers were not simply evil, but a stand-in for the women that were put through the ringer of harsh reality. Princes were only charming for the first week of knowing them. The real monsters were the demons that were inside us all along and we became knights just for fighting them. In this collection of poems, Nikita Gill takes the familiar princesses of our youth and reminds us that they were never victims, but fighters. Cinderella was mistreated by her family, but she endured and remained kind. Tinkerbell’s anger was not something to be placated but embraced. The real fairy godmother was within us all along and happy endings are still possible. Gill’s weaving between self-love letters and angry rants against the patriarchy make for a moving yet underrated piece of feminist literature.

Where Are Your Boys Tonight: The Oral History of Emo’s Mainstream Explosion 1999 - 2008 by Chris Payne

This one goes out to Hot Topic kids everywhere. Music journalist Chris Payne interviews more than 150 producers, musicians, managers, and elder emos to document the genre’s journey from DIY basement shows to the VMAs. But, this isn’t your regular music history book. Payne compiles each interview transcript to create a dynamic timeline that reads like an episode of Behind The Music. By including producers and managers in addition to frontmen, Payne takes us backstage of some of our beloved bands, letting us see how My Chemical Romance’s first album came together and the reality of performing at Warped Tour. Plus a page of photos that includes one of Hayley Williams performing at the School of Rock, and an early Panic! At The Disco poster. If you were a fan of 2000’s emo, this book is for you. If you hated 2000’s emo, I suggest reading this article again from the top.

Hopefully some of these books either provide a decent way of avoiding small talk or make for an interesting conversation starter. No matter what book you choose, from this list or not, make it one that genuinely interests you. Reading should be fun and enjoyable all-year round.

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