2020 Reading List

Arielle Chen | Daily Trojan

It’s 2020 — how about we forget about resolutions and come up with a reading goal? You may think you have no time to read, but I say we make like @hotdudesreading and put our hours spent mindlessly scrolling to good use. There are nearly 500,000 books in Doheny Library just waiting for us. Here are some recommendations for everyone from the graduating senior to the burnt-out arts student.

Freshman year must read:

“The Idiot” by Elif Batuman

 Starting university in the middle of Los Angeles can be tough. And although this Pulitzer prize-nominated novel takes place across the country at Harvard University, Selin’s struggles to navigate her freshman year should be required reading for all first-year students. Her attempts to find herself through silent film courses and summers spent teaching English in Hungary are as funny as they are bleak. Batuman’s writing is as honest and raw as it gets. “The Idiot” is set in the ‘90s, and while the technological gaps are evident (Selin communicates with her friend, Ivan, almost solely through email), it is relatable for anybody who has ever left home. 

For the student with “no time to read:”

“Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self Delusion” by Jia Tolentino

 This collection of nine essays is perfect for everyone from the busy Marshall student to the swamped Ph.D. candidate. Tolentino, a staff writer at The New Yorker, reports on topics such as athleisure, children’s book heroines and sexual assault on college campuses. The collection’s format makes Tolentino’s work accessible while also making you rethink and question the world in which we live.

For the student fed up with hook-up culture:

“Everything I Know About Love” by Dolly Alderton

British journalist and podcast host Alderton’s wild tales of her trials and tribulations in romantic love (and lack there of) will make you cringe, cry and feel a little less alone. From nights out during her time at university to Tinder meet ups in New York, Alderton has seen it all. This book is like a warm hug from an older sister, written in short, digestible chapters. It’s a quick but powerful read.

For the arts student in a creative rut:

“Franny and Zooey” by J.D. Salinger

Salinger was definitely a little out there. Nevertheless, my theatre major roommate swears by this book. She’s read it over and over again and constantly tells anyone that will listen that this is the book to read. Made up of two short (ish) stories, “Franny and Zooey” is full of memorable characters. It’s about love and family and is perfect for the student worried about where their future is going, artistically or otherwise.

For the graduating senior:

“The Beautiful Chaos of Growing Up” by Ari Satok

“Beautiful chaos” is a nice way of looking at growing up. Perfect for the senior standing between college life and the next step in their career, this poetry book perfectly captures the ups and downs of young adulthood. Satok’s words cover topics from cooking to marriage in a timely, relatable way and is certain to make readers remember their college years with a smile as they look forward to the years to come.

“Animals” by Emma Jane Unsworth

 A blurb in “Animals” opens with this: “It is the moment every twenty-something must confront: it’s time to grow up.” Unsworth’s tales of the friendship between two women on the brink of their 30s perfectly portrays the beautiful complexity of female friendship and the struggles that come with life on your own.

Coming soon:

“Hidden Valley Road: Inside the mind of an American Family” by Robert Kolker

 While another book about medicine is probably the last thing a pre-health student is looking for, I’d make an exception for this one. “Hidden Valley Road” is the heartbreaking and eye-opening story of a family where six of 12 children are diagnosed with schizophrenia. The novel is as much a story about the intense, abusive dynamics in the Galvin family as it is the journey of the medical field to understand the disorder. Written by the author of The New York Times bestseller “Lost Girls,” “Hidden Valley Road” will be available in April.

“Winds of Winter” by George R.R. Martin 

In the event that Martin’s sixth installment in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series is published this year (the last book in the series was released in 2011), it will be a race to the bookstores to see how the penultimate novel in the series that inspired “Game of Thrones” pans out. According to an article published by The Independent, the novel is rumored to be released before the summer, however, similar rumors circled in 2015 and the years that followed. 

“Ghosts” by Dolly Alderton

The aforementioned Alderton’s debut novel will explore themes as varied and relevant as online dating and ageing parents. British journalist Elizabeth Day calls Alderton the “Nora Ephron for the millenial generation,” and her tale of a food critic who appears to have it all will not disappoint. “Ghosts” will be available in July.