Winter Reading Challenge

Posted: December 17, 2019 9:00:00 AM CST

Winter Break is here!!

I know what you’re thinking. It’s time to sleep in, stay in your pajamas, and veg-out the entire live-long-day! Talk about living the life of Riley!

I’m here to enable you and say, “Yes, you should do all of that.” You’ve spent an entire semester working on papers and projects, studying for tests, putting in hours at work; you deserve to just enjoy your break. It’s time to kick back and chill out.

Pull out the comfy clothes, the slippers, the blankets. Pour yourself some tea, coffee, cocoa, whatever tickles your fancy. Just take a moment and relax.

Deep breath in…out…roll those shoulders and that neck, releasing any tension you didn’t realize you were holding onto. Yeah…that’s nice, right?

Now, let’s go ahead and one-up this relaxation. You see, there’s a certain activity you can engage in, one that doesn’t even demand you putting pants on. It’s an activity that allows you to chill out and still seem like a productive member of society.

What am I talking about? Reading of course!!

Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, you are keeping your mind active by exploring stories, history, ideas, and more – and there is very little demand outside of that!! Bonus, if you borrow the book from the library, you don’t even have to pay for it (though I do highly recommend putting your pants back on – just for the library visit that is).

To help guide you, you’ll find the Bell Library’s first Winter Break Reading Challenge below. We’re challenging you to read at least two books over the Winter Break. (You can of course read more, but two seems like a good number to leisurely get through during your time off.)

Click the image below to find a handy “Bell Library’s Winter Break Reading Challenge” category sheet to help guide your winter picks. Below the image, you’ll also find a few book suggestions from the Bell Library’s own Popular Reading Collection.

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Popular Reading Titles

A book published in 2019

last-stone.jpgThe Last Stone by Mark Bowden: On March 29, 1975, sisters Katherine and Sheila Lyon, age 10 and 12, vanished from a shopping mall in suburban Washington, D.C. As shock spread, then grief, a massive police effort found nothing. The investigation was shelved, and mystery endured. Then, in 2013, a cold case squad detective found something he and a generation of detectives had missed. It pointed them toward a man named Lloyd Welch, then serving time for child molestation in Delaware. As a cub reporter for a Baltimore newspaper, Mark Bowden covered the frantic first weeks of the story. In The Last Stone, he returns to write its ending. Over months of intense questioning and extensive investigation of Welch’s sprawling, sinister Appalachian clan, five skilled detectives learned to sift truth from determined lies. How do you get a compulsive liar with every reason in the world to lie to tell the truth? The Last Stone recounts a masterpiece of criminal interrogation and delivers a chilling and unprecedented look inside a disturbing criminal mind.

confessions-frannie.jpgThe Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins: All of London is abuzz with the scandalous case of Frannie Langton, accused of the brutal double murder of her employers, renowned scientist George Benham and his eccentric French wife, Marguerite. Crowds pack the courtroom, eagerly following every twist, while the newspapers print lurid theories about the killings and the mysterious woman being tried at the Old Bailey. The testimonies against Frannie are damning. She is a seductress, a witch, a master manipulator, a whore. But Frannie claims she cannot recall what happened that fateful evening, even if remembering could save her life. She doesn’t know how she came to be covered in the victims’ blood. But she does have a tale to tell: a story of her childhood on a Jamaican plantation, her apprenticeship under a debauched scientist who stretched all bounds of ethics, and the events that brought her into the Benhams’ London home—and into a passionate and forbidden relationship. Though her testimony may seal her conviction, the truth will unmask the perpetrators of crimes far beyond murder and indict the whole of English society itself.

A classic you’ve always wanted to read

fried-green.jpgFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg: Folksy and fresh, endearing and affecting, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is a now-classic novel about two women: Evelyn, who’s in the sad slump of middle age, and gray-headed Mrs. Threadgoode, who’s telling her life story. Her tale includes two more women—the irrepressibly daredevilish tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth—who back in the thirties ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama, offering good coffee, southern barbecue, and all kinds of love and laughter—even an occasional murder. And as the past unfolds, the present will never be quite the same again.

 

 

hitchhikers.jpgThe Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: Seconds before Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor. Together, this dynamic pair began a journey through space aided by a galaxyful of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox—the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian (formerly Tricia McMillan), Zaphod’s girlfriend, whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; and Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he’s bought over the years. Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? For all the answers, stick your thumb to the stars!

A book with a strong female lead

good-riddance.jpgGood Riddance by Elinor Lipman: In a delightful new romantic comedy from Elinor Lipman, one woman's trash becomes another woman's treasure, with deliriously entertaining results. Daphne Maritch doesn't quite know what to make of the heavily annotated high school yearbook she inherits from her mother, who held this relic dear. Too dear. The late June Winter Maritch was the teacher to whom the class of '69 had dedicated its yearbook, and in turn she went on to attend every reunion, scribbling notes and observations after each one--not always charitably--and noting who overstepped boundaries of many kinds. In a fit of decluttering (the yearbook did not, Daphne concluded, "spark joy"), she discards it when she moves to a small New York City apartment. But when it's found in the recycling bin by a busybody neighbor/documentary filmmaker, the yearbook's mysteries--not to mention her own family's--take on a whole new urgency, and Daphne finds herself entangled in a series of events both poignant and absurd.

on-the-come-up.jpgOn the Come Up by Angie Thomas: Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill. But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral…for all the wrong reasons. Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn’t just want to make it—she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be. 

 

A book being turned into a movie/TV show

puddin.jpgPuddin’ by Julie Murphy: Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a little girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream of being a newscaster, and to kiss the boy she’s crushing on. Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend. When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing that they might have more in common than they ever imagined.

 

 

crawdads.jpgWhere the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: Fans of Barbara Kingsolver will love this stunning debut novel from a New York Times bestselling nature writer, about an unforgettable young woman determined to make her way in the wilds of North Carolina, and the two men that will break her isolation open. For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She's barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark. But Kya is not what they say. Abandoned at age ten, she has survived on her own in the marsh that she calls home. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life lessons from the land, learning from the false signals of fireflies the real way of this world. But while she could have lived in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world--until the unthinkable happens.

A thriller novel

current.jpgThe Current by Tim Johnston: When two young women leave their college campus in the dead of winter for a 700-mile drive north to Minnesota, they suddenly find themselves fighting for their lives in the icy waters of the Black Root River, just miles from home. One girl's survival, and the other's death--murder, actually--stun the citizens of a small Minnesota town, thawing memories of another young woman who lost her life in the same river ten years earlier, and whose killer may yet live among them.

 

 

 

anonymous-girl.jpgAn Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen: When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she'll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she's thinking...and what she's hiding.

 

 

 

A fantasy novel

candle-flame.jpgThe Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad: Fatima lives in the city of Noor, on the Silk Road, which is currently protected by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, from attacks by the violent and ruthless Shayateen djinn--but Fatima was infused with the fire of the Ifrit who died saving her when she was four years old, and when one of the most important Ifrit dies she finds herself drawn into the intrigues of the court, the affairs of the djinn, and the very real dangers of a magical battlefield.

 

 

 

fall-dodge.jpgFall; or, Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson: In his youth, Richard “Dodge” Forthrast founded Corporation 9592, a gaming company that made him a multibillionaire. Now in his middle years, Dodge appreciates his comfortable, unencumbered life, managing his myriad business interests, and spending time with his beloved niece Zula and her young daughter, Sophia. One beautiful autumn day, while he undergoes a routine medical procedure, something goes irrevocably wrong. Dodge is pronounced brain dead and put on life support, leaving his stunned family and close friends with difficult decisions. Long ago, when a much younger Dodge drew up his will, he directed that his body be given to a cryonics company now owned by enigmatic tech entrepreneur Elmo Shepherd. Legally bound to follow the directive despite their misgivings, Dodge’s family has his brain scanned and its data structures uploaded and stored in the cloud, until it can eventually be revived. In the coming years, technology allows Dodge’s brain to be turned back on. It is an achievement that is nothing less than the disruption of death itself. An eternal afterlife—the Bitworld—is created, in which humans continue to exist as digital souls. But this brave new immortal world is not the Utopia it might first seem . . .

A graphic novel

manuelito.jpgManuelito by Elisa Amado, illustrations by Abraham Urias: Thirteen-year-old Manuelito is a gentle boy who lives with his family in a tiny village in the Guatemalan countryside. But life is far from idyllic: PACs armed civil patrol are a constant presence in the streets, and terrifying memories of the country’s war linger in the villagers’ collective conscience. Things deteriorate further when government-backed drug gangs arrive and take control of the village. Fearing their son will be forced to join a gang, Manuelito’s parents make the desperate decision to send him to live with his aunt in America. With just a bus ticket and a small amount of cash in hand, Manuelito begins his hazardous journey to Mexico, then the U.S., in search of asylum. But in the end, dangers such as the crooked coyote, or human smuggler, his parents have entrusted their son’s life to may be nothing compared to the risks Manuelito faces when he finally reaches America.

green-lantern.jpgGreen Lantern. Earth One. Volume One by Corinna Bechko, Gabriel Hardman, Jordan Boyd: Hal Jordan yearns for the thrill of discovery, but the days when astronaut and adventure were synonymous are long past. His gig prospecting asteroids for Ferris Galactic is less than fulfilling--but least he's not on Earth, where technology and culture have stagnated. He might be a nobody, but he's in space. When Jordan finds a powerful ring, he also finds a destiny to live up to. There are worlds beyond his own, unlike anything he ever imagined. But revelation comes with a price: the Green Lantern Corps has fallen, long since murdered by ruthless killing machines known as Manhunters. The odds against reinstating the Corps are nearly impossible...but doing the impossible is exactly what an astronaut like Hal Jordan was trained to do.

An anthology/short story book

radicalized.jpgRadicalized by Cory Doctorow: Told through one of the most on-pulse genre voices of our generation, Radicalized is a timely collection consisting of four SF novellas connected by social, technological, and economic visions of today and what America could be in the near, near future. “Unauthorized Bread” is a tale of immigration, the toxicity of economic and technological stratification, and the young and downtrodden fighting against all odds to survive and prosper. In “Model Minority”, a Superman-like figure attempts to rectify the corruption of the police forces he long erroneously thought protected the defenseless...only to find his efforts adversely affecting their victims. “Radicalized” is a story of a darkweb-enforced violent uprising against insurance companies told from the perspective of a man desperate to secure funding for an experimental drug that could cure his wife's terminal cancer. The fourth story, “Masque of the Red Death”, harkens back to Doctorow's Walkaway, taking on issues of survivalism versus community.

strange-weather.jpgStrange Weather: Four Short Novels by Joe Hill: "Snapshot" is the disturbing story of a Silicon Valley adolescent who finds himself threatened by "The Phoenician," a tattooed thug who possesses a Polaroid Instant Camera that erases memories, snap by snap. A young man takes to the skies to experience his first parachute jump. . . and winds up a castaway on an impossibly solid cloud, a Prospero’s island of roiling vapor that seems animated by a mind of its own in "Aloft." On a seemingly ordinary day in Boulder, Colorado, the clouds open up in a downpour of nails—splinters of bright crystal that shred the skin of anyone not safely under cover. "Rain" explores this escalating apocalyptic event, as the deluge of nails spreads out across the country and around the world. In "Loaded," a mall security guard in a coastal Florida town courageously stops a mass shooting and becomes a hero to the modern gun rights movement. But under the glare of the spotlights, his story begins to unravel, taking his sanity with it. When an out-of-control summer blaze approaches the town, he will reach for the gun again and embark on one last day of reckoning.

A book with a one-word title

internment.jpgInternment by Samira Ahmed: Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens. With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the camp's Director and his guards.

 

 

 

artemis.jpgArtemis by Andy Weir: Jasmine Bashara never signed up to be a hero. She just wanted to get rich. Not crazy, eccentric-billionaire rich, like many of the visitors to her hometown of Artemis, humanity’s first and only lunar colony. Just rich enough to move out of her coffin-sized apartment and eat something better than flavored algae. Rich enough to pay off a debt she’s owed for a long time. So when a chance at a huge score finally comes her way, Jazz can’t say no. Sure, it requires her to graduate from small-time smuggler to full-on criminal mastermind. And it calls for a particular combination of cunning, technical skills, and large explosions—not to mention sheer brazen swagger. But Jazz has never run into a challenge her intellect can’t handle, and she figures she’s got the ‘swagger’ part down. The trouble is, engineering the perfect crime is just the start of Jazz’s problems. Because her little heist is about to land her in the middle of a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself. Trapped between competing forces, pursued by a killer and the law alike, even Jazz has to admit she’s in way over her head. She’ll have to hatch a truly spectacular scheme to have a chance at staying alive and saving her city. Jazz is no hero, but she is a very good criminal. That’ll have to do.

A book based on mythology

norse-myth.jpgNorse Mythology by Neil Gaiman: In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki―son of a giant―blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator. Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Once, when Thor’s hammer is stolen, Thor must disguise himself as a woman―difficult with his beard and huge appetite―to steal it back. More poignant is the tale in which the blood of Kvasir―the most sagacious of gods―is turned into a mead that infuses drinkers with poetry. The work culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and rebirth of a new time and people.

circe.jpgCirce by Madeline Miller: In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child--not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power--the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves. Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts, and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus. But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

A book with “of” in the title

mistress-ritz.jpgMistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin: A captivating novel based on the story of the extraordinary real-life American woman who secretly worked for the French Resistance during World War II--while playing hostess to the invading Germans at the iconic Hotel Ritz in Paris--from the New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator's Wife and The Swans of Fifth Avenue. In March 1940, the Nazis sweep Paris and immediately take up residence in one of the city's most iconic sites: The Hotel Ritz. There, under a roof legendary for its unprecedented luxury and for its fabled residents--including Coco Chanel, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Cole Porter, Hemingway, Balanchine, Doris Duke, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and now Hermann Göering--the Nazis rule over a paralyzed city. But two residents of the Ritz refuse to be defeated: its director, Claude Auzello, and his beautiful American actress wife, Blanche. They not only oversee the smooth workings of the hotel, but both Blanche and Claude throw themselves fearlessly into the dangerous and clandestine workings of the French Resistance. This is a true-to-life novel of a courageous woman and her husband who put their marriage--and ultimately their lives--in jeopardy to fight for freedom. Intimate, fearless, and moving, it spins a brilliantly and unforgettably vivid human portrait at a time of unimaginable crisis and sacrifice.

opposite-always.jpgOpposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds: When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack. But then Kate dies. And their story should end there. Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind. Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do to save the people he loves.

A book in a series

cruel-prince.jpgThe Cruel Prince by Holly Black: Jude was seven when her parents were murdered, and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King. To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences. As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

aurora-rising.jpgAurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff: The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…a cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm, a sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates, a smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder, an alien warrior with anger management issues, a tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering. And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

 

Happy Reading!!

Trisha

 

By: Trisha Hernandez

Category: Books & More, Things to Do, Today’s Special