Seven Books to Keep You Occupied Over the Chagim

By: Alexander Fischer  |  September 30, 2020

By Alexander Fischer

Let’s face it, this is going to be a long holiday season and we could all use a good book or two to keep us company over the break. Here are some fast-paced reads that are guaranteed to mitigate the chag (holiday) fatigue.

  1. “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy

This is a perfect novel for our seemingly post-apocalyptic times. The novel tells the story of a father and son struggling to survive in an America covered in ash. Its tone and pacing are reminiscent of the earlier seasons of “The Walking Dead”. The story sucks you in and the ending hits you hard. 

  1. “Queenie” by Candice Carty-Williams

Where to start with “Queenie”? The story is incredibly simple: a young woman struggles to find herself after a breakup. But where “Queenie” truly stands out is in the masterful style in which Carty-Williams writes “Queenie”. Her story is thought-provoking, sad, and funny in a way that makes her unique story incredibly relatable. It’s a great read with a better message of self-sufficiency and the importance of mental health.

  1. “The Disaster Artist” by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissel 

This one is for you non-fiction/memoir folk. I have never read a funnier book than “The Disaster Artist”. The book tells the story behind the production of the movie “The Room”, infamous for being the worst film ever produced. If you haven’t seen “The Room” go watch it now, (it’s available for free on YouTube) then read this book. You will not be disappointed. At its heart though, “The Disaster Artist” is about the complex and nuanced friendship of Greg Sestero and Tommy Wiseau (the writer, director, producer, and lead actor of “The Room”) and has a lot to say about friendship as a whole. Also, the humor is unmatched.

  1. “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz

This one is a little long, but it’s loads of fun and a very quick read. Diaz tells the story of Oscar, a Dominican boy who longs to write fantasy novels and fall in love, through the eyes of Yunior, Oscar’s college roommate. Yunior is an incredibly engaging narrator combining colloquial language, Dominican Republic history, and pop culture references seamlessly in his narration. Oscar’s story is engaging, raw, and full of magical realism. Also, it references Washington Heights a couple of times and it’s always fun to recognize places you know in a book.

  1. “The Wicked Sister” by Karen Dionne

A girl commits herself to a mental institution after killing her parents until years later she realizes she never actually killed them. Rachel leaves the hospital and returns to her childhood home, a cabin in northern Michigan, to uncover the truth about her family. From there, the story is hard to explain without spoilers, but it is a must-read. Dionne draws heavily from the ethos of traditional fairy tales to create a world that is both familiar and fantastical. The story is a perfect balance of the crime and fantasy genres.

6 and 7.  The Kyoshi Novels: “The Rise of Kyoshi” and “The Shadow of Kyoshi” by F.C. Yee

The Kyoshi novels take place within the universe of “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, so whether you are a longtime fan of the show, or just recently became a fan after binging on Netflix, you will thoroughly enjoy these books. Even if you haven’t seen the show before, the books do a great job of giving you the context you need to understand the story, although you would definitely get more out of them if you’ve seen the show. Kyoshi is a strong and compelling leader and her challenges as an Avatar are unique. In fact, when the book starts she isn’t a good bender by any standard, and people don’t believe that she is the Avatar. Kyoshi’s world is complex and her lines between right and wrong are often blurred; this is a compelling origin story for an incredible character.