Winter break was a great time to catch up on some books you might have been meaning to get to, and the new year is just as good of a time to continue that reading streak. If you’re looking for some books to add to your reading list, check out some of the best and most influential books of 2018 that should set your standards high before the most anticipated releases of 2019 come out.
“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas
Voted as Goodread.com’s “Best of the Best” book for 2018, as well as being adapted into a critically acclaimed feature film starring Amandla Stenberg, “The Hate U Give” is the real deal. The book explores the life of African-American teenager Starr Carter after she witnesses her childhood best friend, Khalil, shot down by a police officer. Thomas does not shy away integrating the reality of current political issues of police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement into her novel. No matter your political view, Thomas’ novel provides a thought-provoking, well-written and emotional perspective into how our generation can be affected by the political atmosphere today, and masterfully balances those issues with impactful prose.
“Circe” by Madeline Miller
Following up from the success of Miller’s debut novel, “The Song of Achilles” (which I also highly recommend), the author returns with another story rooted in Greek mythology, this time focusing on the sorceress Circe from the “Odyssey.” Based off of events in Homer’s epic and other myths, “Circe” transforms the tale of the witch typically known to be cruel into one that chronicles her casting off her family on an isolated island where she decides to hone her unique magic, toughened by hardship but softened by the love in the mortal world. The novel exemplifies lyrical prose and the universal story of a woman’s strength, at first appearing slow but taking time to immerse the reader in its story.
“Crazy Rich Asians” by Kevin Kwan
If you’re looking to escape the windy winter of Storrs and head to the luxurious world of the wealthy Asian families in Singapore, “Crazy Rich Asians” can do that, along with providing a complex but intriguing web of characters that all have their own agendas, relationships and money that play a role in this fun read about what it’s like to live the high life. Kwan introduces Rachel Chu, who is whisked off to Singapore by her boyfriend, Nick, to attend his best friend’s wedding. It’s not until she gets there that Rachel realizes Nick is part of one of the most wealthy and influential families in the country, and everyone he knows is part of the upper echelons of society. Besides being the inspiration behind an award-winning feature film and bringing some much-needed representation to the Asian-American community, “Crazy Rich Asians” is a fun, decadent read for anyone.
“Becoming” by Michelle Obama
This powerful memoir written by the former First Lady of the United States offers inspiration to those of us who feel like finishing this semester will be a struggle. From describing the impact of her childhood in South Side Chicago to attending Harvard Law School, Obama offers an intimate reflection on how her life has shaped her into the successful woman and role model she is today, all while battling society’s expectations and balancing her role of a mother and political influencer.
“Educated” by Tara Westover
Another powerful memoir by another inspiring woman. “Educated,” voted as Goodread.com’s Best Memoir and Autobiography, chronicles the life of Tara Westover, who did not attend school until the age of 17. As she was raised in Idaho by survivalists, Westover struggled with the isolated lifestyle of her family and sought to educate herself, eventually earning a Ph.D. from Cambridge University. Westover’s memoir is one of identity and self-invention, and offers the reader insight into the power of education and what one may take for granted.
Hollie Lao is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.