The Book Club

As the weather slowly warms up and the tulips start to blossom, Lawrentians can see that spring has once again returned to campus. And, as a result, love is clearly in the air again as couples enjoy the sunshine and stroll in downtown Appleton with boba or sit in hammocks together on the Main Green. After seeing all these lovebirds recently, I decided to try and interview a student or two in order to get some romantic reading recommendations for this week.  

Katrina Girod, a freshman, was kind enough to sit with me this week and recommend a few of her personal favorite novels where love and romance were at the heart of the story. The first book she mentioned is Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. The story takes place in a fantasy setting that almost appears be a “parody of Harry Potter’s wizarding world,” as Girod explained.  The main character, Simon, is a wizard who is in his last year at his magical school and is ready to finally be free of his annoying vampire roommate, Baz. The two of them have never work well together during the years that they have roomed together, since they are practically opposites of one another. Simon, in Baz’s eyes, is society’s perfect golden boy since he is the “Chosen One.” Baz, on the other hand, is the victim of the negative societal stigma forced upon him for being a vampire. “I’m a big fan of the enemies-to-lovers trope, and this is a perfect example of that,” Girod said. “You can clearly sense the chemistry between the two characters as you read the book.” As the story progresses, Baz and Simon are forced to work together to overcome various problems that they encounter and slowly realize their mutual attraction for one another. Girod recommends this love story not only for those who are fans of the enemies-to-lovers trope, but for those who love fantastical elements reminiscent of Harry Potter.  

The other book Girod recommended for this week’s prompt is Delirium by Lauren Oliver, which is the first of a trilogy. In the dystopian society set up in the novel, love is viewed as a disease that can lead to crime and other negative outcomes. When citizens turn eighteen, they are given a procedure that mutes their emotions and allows them to “live as a regular member of society.” Lena, the main character, is on her way to get the procedure when she meets Alex, who was able to escape before getting his procedure done, and therefore still has his emotions intact. Throughout the book Alex introduces Lena to various emotions and creative outlets that she was raised to believe were dangerous and a nuisance. As he shows her what life is supposed to be like, Lena slowly comes out of the conservative shell that society had built around her, and the two of them fall in love. Girod deems this book as perfect for anyone who “is missing that dystopian age of YA fiction.” 

I had a hard time trying to find a recommendation of my own for this week’s prompt, since my favorite love story is a book I recommended a few editions ago, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. But, nevertheless, I still found a book to talk about, though it is not necessarily a romance novel. This week I will be recommending Helen of Troy by Margaret George. The book follows in the infamous Helen of Troy, the woman that caused the Trojan War. We watch as she grows up and learns to deal with her divine beauty and is later sent to be wed in a loveless marriage. As the years go by, Helen finally meets the love of her life, Paris, the young prince of Troy. With him she learns what love and passion are meant to be like and decides to run away with him. This, of course, leads to war as her husband attempts to reclaim her. The book itself is beautiful since it gives us Helen’s perspective of the events of the Trojan War and provides her with depth and personality. She’s finally more than just a prize to be won. I wanted to recommend it for this week’s prompt since Helen and Paris’s love story, though brief, is a classic, and a central plot point to not just the book, but to many Greek myths. If you are a sucker for Greek mythology like me, this book and my earlier recommendation would be perfect for you.