Arts & Entertainment

Book recommendations for the indefinite quarantine

by Georgia Laganiere, business and social media manager

A common theme among my friends is that when we were younger, we used to adore reading books. I myself could devour a 400 page book in a day if I liked it enough. However, once we got to middle school or high school, people either didn’t have enough time to read or the extensive reading in English class made it so we couldn’t look at a book the same way again. Books used to be an escape from the real world, a place to go when our boring lives became too monotonous to bear. Now I can’t read a book without feeling a nagging voice in my head telling me to annotate for diction, allegory, or syntax. This summer, however, in the height of boredom in quarantine, I began reading once again. These are my latest and current reads with summaries and reviews in the hope that you too will fall in love with reading again.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Overall Rating: 9.5/10

Genres: Young Adult, LGBTQ+ Romantic Fiction

For someone who is not a gay man, this book was surprisingly easy to relate to. It was a constant inhale of political repartee and complex romantic feelings which made for a very interesting read. The story revolves around 21-year-old Alex Claremont-Diaz, the son of the first woman President. Alex, whose life-long goal of becoming a senator before age 30, is the perfect definition of all-American: handsome, smart and charming. This Texas-born Democrat wrestles with his sexuality and goals for the future while his mom runs a tough and public reelection campaign. After one too many glasses of wine at a royal wedding, he confronts the youngest British Prince Henry, with whom he has a rivalry, and the boys end up in a full-blown altercation, giving the media a field day. The White House PR specialist requires them to pretend they are friends and like the incident was just two frat boys getting carried away. What begins as a fake friendship for the media turns into something deeper, giving the young men an outlet to share their remarkably similar lives. Soon, they are hurtling towards each other as lovers in a whirlwind romance that could threaten to not only out them to the world, but screw with his mother’s election. This novel has the perfect amount of romance and political jargon that envelopes the story in a tornado of wit, moral dilemmas, best of all friendship. Stereotypical, I know, but true.  

My favorite quotes:

“That’s the choice. I love him, with all that, because of all that. On purpose. I love him on purpose.”

“Thinking about history makes me wonder how I’ll fit into it one day, I guess. And you too. I kinda wish people still wrote like that. History, huh? Bet we could make some.”

“But the truth is, also, simply this: love is indomitable.”

“He wants to set himself on fire, but he can’t afford for anyone to see him burn.”

One of Us Is Lying by Kate M. McManus

Overall Rating: 9/10

Genre: Mystery

Protagonists: Bronwyn the “Brain,” Cooper the “Jock,” Abby the “Princess,” and Nate the “Rebel,” Simon the “Gossip”

If you liked The Breakfast Club, you’ll love the premise of this twisted version of detention schematics. Similar to The Breakfast Club, five different stereotypes of high schoolers are trapped in detention. However, when Simon, the creator of their school’s gossip column, drops dead in the locked room, the mystery begins. Because Simon openly posted the school’s darkest secrets for everyone to read, he had no shortage of enemies, but the remaining four were the only ones in the room. They all deny the murder, of course, but that means that one of them must be lying. Throughout the book you’ll probably have seven different theories at once while simultaneously rooting for the main couple. This book combines lighthearted stereotypes and romance perfectly with the dark dangers of mystery. 

My Favorite Quotes:

“I don’t know why it’s so hard for people to admit that sometimes they’re just assholes who screw up because they don’t expect to get caught.”

“I guess we’re almost friends now, or as friendly as you can get when you’re not one hundred percent sure the other person isn’t framing you for murder.”

“I know what it’s like to tell yourself a lie so often that it becomes the truth.”

Gender Diversity: Crosscultural Variations by Serena Nanda

Overall Rating: 8/10

Genre: Non-fiction

By principle, I am not a big fan of non-fiction books. They put me to sleep. So when my mom proudly dropped a few of her required reading books from college on my desk, I scoffed. But after much pleading from my mom, I began to read this book. Immediately captivated by the information, I realized that this is what was missing from history classes in regards to anthropology and social and gender norms. I mean, I doubt you knew that in Native American societies, individuals who identified as transgender were not only accepted, but normalized and called female/male variations. Homosexuality was also accepted in some societies. This book includes chapters on gender roles and diversities from all around the world. Chapters talked about the multiple genders of Northern Native Americans,  the Hijra and Sadhins from India, the men and not-men in Brazil, the liminal gender roles in Polynesia and  sex/gender diversity in Euro-America. However, the book is a little hard to get through because it is a college reading book. It also uses some outdated language in reference to some cultures and sexualities as it was published in 2000, so be aware of that. Overall, I found this book to be an incredibly entertaining and informative way to understand gender diversity and roles around the world. 

My Favorite Quotes

“All the cltures described here provide spaces for sex and gender roles beyond the bianry opposites of male and female, man and woman.”

“Significant cultural variation occurs in what is considered appropriate sexiality- desire, orientation, practices- for different genders and in the presumed relationship between sex/gender diversity, sexuality, and gener identity.”

“On one hand, sex/gender variants like… the Euro-American… “drag queen” appear to reinforce the heterogender, patriarchal sex/gender, ideologies in their respective societies.”

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