We’re back with more book recommendations that you should read this upcoming semester. With the cold creeping in and Halloween approaching, what could be better than cosying up with a good story at night? A handful of our writers are here to give you their personal suggestions and why they think theirs might be the perfect book for you.
Somrutai Mary Reantragoon recommends: Revenge, Yoko Ogawa
Surely everyone knows the saying well enough: you can’t judge a book by its cover. This rings true for Revenge. Although the cover’s design seemingly depicts the novella as a murder, as you read through, it is crystal clear that Revenge. The book delves deep into the human mind and behaviours in dealing with grief, loss, and disappointment.
The experience of reading Revenge can aptly be summarised by the title of one of the novella’s short stories: Welcome to the Museum of Torture. Ogawa weaves 11 short stories into a novella that is undoubtedly short, yet rich in eerie feelings. The eeriness starts off with the first short story that mildly taps on ‘how to deal with the loss of loved ones,’ before transitioning into a full-blown, disturbing horror as the novella progresses towards its last short story.
Ogawa is the master of subtlety in horror writing. Her choice to narrate the book in the first person perspective of the main character in each short story guides the readers to get to know the character. Despite each short story being a standalone, after reading through the entire novella, one could find the short stories subtly interconnected to one another through unsettling coincidences and contingencies – so subtly that they could go unnoticed if not paid enough attention to.
The novella ends in full circle; the last short story loops back to the first as a way to amplify the first short story’s uncanniness, concluding the novella’s subtly unsettling atmosphere.
Belle Lewes recommends: Cleopatra and Frankenstein, Coco Mellors
My favourite read this year has to be the novel Cleopatra and Frankenstein. It follows the life of Cleo, a young and drifting artist who struggles to form meaningful and fulfilling relationships during her battle with her own mental health and the struggle of feeling lost in today’s society. The book is honest and open about the hardships of childhood trauma and how they shape a person without it feeling performative, or superficial. While following a somewhat toxic relationship, the story is careful to locate the faults in often romanticised tropes such as large age gaps, the use of substances in high-class society, and emotional (and financial) dependence in relationships.
The novel does contain themes of alcoholism and addiction, as well as unfiltered discussions of mental illness and suicide. While tragic in places this book felt important to the current movements of speaking on mental illness and addiction without romanticising or normalising this suffering. A humorous, tragic, and beautifully delicate love story; initially romantic, but ultimately about self-acceptance and healing. A must-read.
Kate Mou recommends: Percy Jackson and the Chalice of the Gods, Rick Riordan
This series and author needs no introduction, as most of us grew up reading about Percy Jackson and his world of Greek heroes, gods and monsters. It has been a good 14 years since Rick Riordan last published a book belonging to his OG series, but, gearing up for the new Percy Jackson live-action TV series coming out next year, he recently added a new title.
Percy Jackson and the Chalice of the Gods follows a now 17-year-old Jackson, Annabeth Chase and Grover as they embark on another quest. This time, it is to search for the missing Chalice of the Gods in order for Percy to receive a recommendation letter from the Gods to attend university. Every character in this book stayed true to themselves, with the three best friends still very chaotic and sarcastic even in the midst of their high-stakes mission. This aspect made it incredibly easy to love the book.
What really stands out to me though, is their empathy, wittiness and intelligence when reading and revisiting these characters again as an adult. With this book being a little less than 300 pages, and its fast pacing and easy language, you can breeze through this in one sitting. The nostalgia it brings is so comforting and is the perfect escape from the uni workload.
These are perfect to delve into at any time of year, but especially in the upcoming months. There are stories of psychology and human emotions, life events that alter the trajectory of our lives, and conversely, childhood favourites that bring us right back to that special and nostalgic place we all hold so dearly. Whichever it might be, pick something that brings warmth to even the coldest of days Manchester has to offer.