Curl up with a good book this winter break

The semester is coming to a close, and soon it’ll be winter breaktime for sleeping in, hanging out with friends, sipping warm tea and wrapping ourselves in layers and layers of blankets. 

One thing I’m looking forward to this winter break is having a lot more time to read some good books. If you’d also like to read something good this holiday season, here are a few recommendations.


The Shining

Even though Halloween is over, a good thriller is always in season. Stephen King’s widely popular horror novel, “The Shining,” left me covered in goosebumps with every creepy detail and sinister sentence. This story centers around a family of three. Jack Torrance, a writer, former teacher, recovering alcoholic, imperfect husband and father, and basically just a really interesting multidimensional character to read about. Wendy Torrance, a young wife and mom, is unsure about many decisions but has good intentions at heart and just wants to do what’s best for her family. Lastly, Danny Torrance, the five-year-old boy with an unlikely gift that allows him to read minds and occasionally get glimpses into the future.

After Jack Torrance gets fired from his teaching job due to an incident involving a student and his uncontrolled temper, he finds a job as the winter caretaker for the Overlook Hotel, an old and creepy hotel in the middle of nowhere that becomes completely isolated from the outside world when it snows. The Torrance family is optimisticthe winter job at the hotel could be a perfect fresh start for them; Jack could work on his writing and his issues with alcohol and anger, and the three of them could all bond as a family. However, once they get to the Overlook, things immediately seem to go wrong. Danny starts having nightmares and horrifying visions; Jack feels old temptations start to arise, and Wendy is afraid she can’t keep her family from falling apart. 

This book slowly builds in horror, starting with uncomfortable situations that leave readers with sweaty palms and the urge to check the rooms of their own homes, and ending in pure insanity and terror. What I loved most about this book was how in-depth the characterization was, and how I could start to understand the minds of each of the Torrances. From Jack’s spiral into madness to Danny’s courage and intelligence, I loved every page of this blood-curdling book.

Bloomsbury Publishing


“Circe” by Madeline Miller tells the story of a nymph exiled to an isolated island who undergoes a journey of pain and self-acceptance. We follow her through her life, starting as a young and naive nymph who wants nothing more than to be loved and accepted by the gods around her and eventually growing into a self-assured witch hardened by the pain of heartbreak and deceit. 

Greek mythology is weaved beautifully into the narrative, and it’s okay even if you have no prior knowledge about any Greek myths– this book will make sure you know all that you need to! There are snippets of the Mintaur, Daedalus and his son Icarus, and of course Odysseus, but Circe’s personal story is the one that hit me the hardest. Her journey of finding herself and acceptance was one that really tugged on my heartstrings, and I think you’ll feel the same. I loved the stunning prose and imagery; I loved all the myths and characters intertwined in the story, but most of all, I loved our badass heroine Circe. It was so easy to root for her as she fought through hardships and trials, and cheer her on when she emerged stronger after each setback.

Charles Scribner’s Sons

A Little Princess

The colder months always bring me a feeling of nostalgia, and something I really like to do when the temperatures dip below sixty is reread some childhood classics. “A Little Princess” by Frances Hodgson Burnett is a novel published in 1905 about a young girl, Sara Crewe, who is enrolled in Miss Minchin’s boarding school by her wealthy father, stationed in India with the British Army. Because he has no shortage of money, he orders the headmistress to give Sara any luxuries she asks for, like a personal maid or a private room or a pony. Despite her privileges, Sara is kind to the girls around her, telling whimsical stories that lift moods and incite imaginations. However, when her father dies unexpectedly without leaving a penny, Sara becomes a servant of the school. Even though she loses everything, she is still able to stay optimistic and kind, treating others with a generous and loving heart. 

I recently reread this book and loved how cozy it felt. Reading about Sara and her friends felt like a warm hug, or the perfect bowl of banana cinnamon oatmeal in the morning. I know I might be out of the target age range for this novel, but I think that this book is still lovely and has a lot of lessons to be learned. 

When you’re baking cookies and spending time with loved ones this holiday season, remember that:

“…though there may be times when your hands are empty, your heart is always full, and you can give things out of that—warm things, kind things, sweet things—help and comfort and laughter—and sometimes gay, kind laughter is the best help of all.”