One thing that really sucks for a University student is having so little time to do the things you love. My friends who are runners are too busy for it. My roommates haven’t touched their guitars in weeks. And me? I’ve got no time to do one of the things I love the most in the world – read for pleasure.

Angela Cesere

It’s been so long since I’ve picked up a book for something other than a class that I’ve forgotten the last thing I read. Was it “The Shining?” “Lolita?” “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” (which, by the way, is my favorite of the series. Who’s with me!)? It seems I’ve finally come to the tragic end I’ve sworn to avoid forever: I go for weeks without reading a single self-indulgent word. Ye gods. This is serious.

Thank goodness that there are only a few more weeks of hell until the blessed reprieve of winter break. Fellow Wolverines, realize how wonderful our winter break is despite its cruel brevity. Many other schools who operate on different academic systems (trimesters, quarters, etc.) hold exams after winter break. That means that while you’re opening Christmas presents, spinning your dreidel or just sleeping yourself silly, other students across the country dwell upon forthcoming tests that probably constitute a huge chunk of their grade. But for us, winter break is absolute dead time. We have no classes yet, which means we have no homework, which means we’ve got – free time! YES.

So in the interest of the reading public (this means you), I’ve compiled a list of books for you to use to while away idle hours during your two weeks of rest and relaxation. The good thing about this list is that no matter where you go – Florida, France or just your grandma’s house – you can still check it out. If you’re in a temperate climate, it’s too cold to go outside anyway, and there’s nothing better than curling up inside with a good book, hot chocolate and some warm socks. And hey, if the music staff is allowed to make endless lists of their best and worst CDs, I’m allowed to make a list too. There’s something on it for every taste.

Anything by Stephen King: I guess anyone who reads my columns knows I think he is the bomb. Hello, flashback to the ’90s. But still, no one writes a page-turner the way this man can, and if you like scary movies, you’ll like Stephen King. I think “Pet Semetary” is still hidden in my closet somewhere. I was too scared to finish when I started reading it a few years ago, and I haven’t been able to find it since I stashed somewhere out of view. I think maybe I piled a bunch of stuff around it to keep it guarded.

Hemingway, Faulkner, Woolf, Nabokov, Shakespeare, Vonnegut: There’s a reason why they’re called classics. Some people might get turned off because they’re the books English classes require you to read, but they are so, so, so good. “The Sound and the Fury” – though a jumbled-up mystery of a book – pulls at your heartstrings unbelievably. And I cried when I read “Othello.” Really, I did. If you don’t, you either have no heart or you’re pretending to be a macho boy.

Something romantic, and I’m not talking Harlequin: Read “Ethan Frome” by Edith Wharton, “The Ballad of the Sad Cafe” by Carson McCullers, “Beloved” by Toni Morrison or “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston. Damn you, Oprah, for commodifying these books! But honestly, they’re good. They’re really, really good. And for those who prefer a lot of naked bits, read “Henry and June” by AnaA_s Nin. Now that’ll steam up your windows.

Anything funny: Here, you can pick your poison. Comics? Sure! “Calvin and Hobbes,” “The Far Side,” “Dilbert.” These are great for people with short attention spans. And books-wise, there’s a reason why the reading level on the backs of kids book says “and up” because you’re never too old to enjoy Roald Dahl’s “Matilda” or his cinematically butchered “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

And, of course, there’s always room for nonfiction. But where’s the fun in that? Just kidding (but not really).

Winter break is your chance to kick back, relax and read a good book. Take it! You’re always going to be too busy otherwise, and besides, you never know. You might actually find that you enjoy reading.

So go. Rediscover your local library. Happy holidays – and happy reading.


– Nguyen’s lapse into bad ’90s slang is only temporary, we promise, but she really does dig Stephen King. Too bad he doesn’t own a duck farm. E-mail her at banguyen@umich.edu.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *