Back in the day when I didn’t always have concrete plans during weekends and the rave for social media wasn’t mighty yet – I spent my days relying heavily on my holiday book recommendations. From a murder mystery here, to a teen romance there – I would spend my days huddled under my blanket reading for hours at an end.
Sometimes I would start reading a book in the morning and before I knew it, morning turned to evening and evening turned to night. I’d get so absorbed in the lives of the characters of the stories illuminated by the warm glow of my bedside lamp that I became oblivious to what happened outside. And just like that – the sun set, temperatures dropped, traffic became thicker and my windows became foggier.
On colder days, my mom would surprise me with a mug of hot chocolate and a plate of fried potato smilies.
It was cozy, it was bliss
But now in my adulthood things are very different. For one: time is so limited that rarely can I sneak in a lazy afternoon dedicated just for reading. For the other: it’s very rare that I stumble upon a book that I can immediately disappear into. Because finding a good book to read is like having the feeling where nothing else matters in the world, nothing except for the story that is etched into every page.
And, just as there’s nothing more comforting than escaping into the world of these characters; there’s also nothing as catastrophic as not knowing what books to read when you have such little time to do it. Besides, I really hate it when I have to lose a chunk of my reading time just to create a good reading list.
Given it is the Republic Day weekend – in case you aren’t feeling particularly patriotic (because really, who is these days?) – and you’re looking for a good distraction aka great holiday book recommendations, then I have the perfect holiday books suggestions for you.
With the help of many online book clubs, book review blogs, book websites offering various celebrity’s reading recommendations like Bill Gate’s reading list – I’ve compiled a list of holiday book recommendations that will definitely offer you the escape that both you and I so often long for.
Some of these books I’ve read on regular weekends, but some I’ve actually read on holidays, but either way here’s the book list. Enjoy!
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
About the Book: This story takes place in the pre 9/11 era and is narrated by an unnamed but apparently very beautiful and very blonde narrator. As the story commences we realize that despite being a graduate from Columbia University, having a paid for apartment in the Upper Side of Manhattan and a large inheritance awaiting her – there is an inexplicable void in her life. It’s not necessarily because of the loss of both her parents, or the toxic if not, one-sided friendship she has with her best friend Reva and continues to see a Wall Street man who isn’t loyal to her.
Whatever the cause, her void is so dominant that she decides to spend an entire year in a drug-induced form of hibernation.
Short Book Review of My Year of Rest and Relaxation: What I liked about this story is that even though her life appears seemingly flawless, albeit the death of her parents – there are still parts of her existence – through her thoughts that inevitably highlight the primal question of human existence: why do we feel the way we do?
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
About the book: Split into different seasons, this book follows the story of 22-year-old Tess who comes to New York and gets a job at a high class restaurant as a back-waitress. Told from her perspective – as she navigates her way through the world of wine and food – which from Danler’s descriptions, you can almost taste – she finds herself getting increasingly drawn to the intriguing but impenetrable inner circle of restaurant’s senior server, Simone and the Kierkegaard loving bartender, Jake.
Short Book Review of Sweetbitter: I read this book in the summer of 2018, during my train ride from Malaga to Barcelona. It gave me the delicious distraction I needed during the journey, and given it is Danler’s debut novel written over a seven-year period, with inspiration drawn from her own back-waitressing days – it was written in a beautiful narrative. It would be brilliant for a quick reading escape.
The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
About the Book: Once again, told from the perspective of the narrator: Pat Peoples; this story follows his life after being newly released from the Baltimore Psychiatric Hospital, which he was admitted to due to the breakdown of his marriage to Nikki. If you’ve ever loved someone as much as Pat loves Nikki, you’ll realize that the arc of this story is based on the silver linings theory – which Pat views as the end of his ‘apart time’ with his wife. And so, he embarks on a journey of self improvement – devoting every aspect of his being to win her back – only to eventually realize that he never actually will.
Short Book Review of the Silver Linings Playbook: The movie was good, but as it always is: the book is way better. You may have seen one perspective of the complexities of the human mind from Ottessa Moshfegh’s book, but this one takes you on a whole new journey. More funny than sad, along the way you can’t help but develop this un-mistakable empathy for Pat.
I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosely
About the Book: If you think inspiration can’t be drawn from the mundane, this book will change your mind. From volunteering at the butterfly exhibit in the Natural Histories museum, to making a cookie in the shape of her (former) boss’ face, this book is filled with comedic trials and tribulations of the author’s everyday life.
Short Book Review of I Was Told There’d Be Cake: I wouldn’t put it as book that will stay with you for days after you turn the last page, but it will surely draw you into the chaos and comedy of the author’s life, one personal essay at a time.
Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow
About the Book: Essentially, this book is a documentation of Ronan Farrow’s life for the two years it took him to report on and collect evidence against the infamous Hollywood predator, Harvey Weinstein.
Written in short and easy to understand chapters – Ronan Farrow gives you a complete breakdown of everything he endured – including but not limited to – Israeli Intelligence operatives, a woman named Stella Penn Pechanec with more alias than you have socks, months of being surveilled, a phase of paranoia and a slew of women who’ve not just been violated, but even unabashedly suppressed – that lead him to uncover every little fact and every little detail of his Pulitzer Prize winning piece of journalism.
Short Book Review of Catch and Kill: If you’ve been following the Harvey Weinstein scandal since it first broke out in the New Yorker in 2017, then you’re really going to like this book. Although it reads like a thriller, it’s like one of those journalistic pieces that can make you believe that sometimes real life can truly be stranger than fiction.
All of these books have proved to be such brilliant holiday reads for me, and although they may not top Oprah’s or Bill Gate’s holiday book recommendation lists, for me they’ve given me the distraction and escape that I truly needed.
In case you were unhappy or dissatisfied with these holiday book recommendations for your holiday reading list, you can always check out my Monsoon Book Recommendations: 5 Books to Read during the Rains for better suggestions.
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