The Book Club

With in-person classes in full swing, it’s hard for a lot of students to find the time or motivation to read anything outside of their assigned textbooks and articles. And, to be fair, it’s a rare occurrence to enjoy every single piece that professors place in front of you, though for the first-years reading Angels in America right now, I would argue that you are genuinely in for a treat. Granted, it happens to be my favorite First-Year Studies work, so I may be a tad biased.  

Keeping the workload and pile of assigned texts in mind, I have decided to recommend a few “quick reads,” as I like to call them, so that you bookworms out there can slowly get back into the habit of reading for fun without getting too overwhelmed right away. Trust me when I say I know how daunting books can be when you’re stuck in a burnout state-of-mind.  

The first book I would like to mention is Stephen King’s Joyland, the second book in his collection of “Hard Case Crime” novels, which are designed to mimic the crime novels that were released in the 1940s and 1950s. Though King usually drags out his books to be between 500 and 1,000 pages, Joyland is less than 300 pages in length, making this a book one could potentially read in a few days. After a harsh breakup, our main character, Devin, goes to work at a small-town amusement park in order to distract himself, and slowly becomes intertwined with the park’s murderous history. And, being a Stephen King book, there’s a sure-fire guarantee that there is something supernatural lingering just below the surface of the carnival. If you’re a fan of classic, old-fashioned American mysteries (picture the rather tame crime shows from the early 2000s and 2010s rather than the Sherlock Holmes novels) with a taste of ghosts, then Joyland might be right up your alley.  

Sometimes it’s easier to find the attention span to binge-watch an episode or two of a new show rather than to pick up a book, especially when your brain is fried from trying to analyze a philosophical text that seems to be talking in circles. But some people fail to realize that their favorite Netflix series are based on books, too, like the hit show The Witcher. Never fear, though, I’m not going to persuade you to try and cram an eight-book series in-between classes. Well, at least not yet. Instead, I’m going to point you folks towards Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, which prompted a short ten-episode series with the same name. As an avid fan of the show (I’m actually in the middle of re-watching it, in fact) and the book, I would argue that both are certainly worth the time and tell two similar, yet different stories. Without spoiling either, I will mention that Jackson’s short 246-page gothic horror novel follows a group of people conducting a science experiment in order to prove the existence of ghosts. Unexplainable events start to occur, and the house slowly but surely starts to consume one of the members of the group. A lot of the tale is up for interpretation, as readers must ultimately try to decipher who, or what, is doing the haunting. If you enjoy classic ghost stories with a hint of psychological horror, such as The Amityville Horror, then this would be the perfect read for you.  

That’s all for this week’s recommendations! Hopefully these shorter books will help you all get back into your reading groove as the workloads start to pile up over the next week or so. But, until the next edition, I wish you all happy reading!