So you've burnt all your notes and sold everything you owned on UBC Used Textbooks and there's still at least three week until you have to get back to the academic #grind😤. What are you going to do with all that "The potential is yours." potential? You could hibernate for the full three weeks and watch YouTube videos or you could read a book, which is like a YouTube video but only in your head.

Even though we spend most of the semester being really boring and talking about journalistic ethics and InDesign, The Ubyssey's editors do find time to read books. Look through our recommendations to see what we think is better than watching videos on your phone and, hey, if you still need to buy someone a secret Santa gift, you can give them one of our picks for a coaster that's made of pages.

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Science Editor James Vogl's pick: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Part-botanical factoids, part-love letter to the natural world and part-reflection on being Indigenous in America, Robin Kimmerer's book blends the fascinating scientific with the deeply personal, reading more like a collection of short stories than a non-fiction book about plants. It makes the reader appreciate the everyday miracles in nature and forces them to examine their place in the social and ecological fabric of the world.

Penguin Random House

News Editor Emma Livingstone's pick: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

I haven't read many books that weren't for classes for a long time, but I read Trevor Noah's autobiography this summer and I'd definitely recommend it. He is a vivid storyteller who is able to tackle difficult topics such as stories of growing up during apartheid while also bringing in comedic relief.

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News Editor Henry Anderson's pick: This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

It seems like high school English curricula across the globe — and especially in the United States — have solidified The Great Gatsby as a generation-defining classic. Granted, it's fantastic, but shocker! Fitzgerald has written plenty of other good ones. This Side of Paradise, his debut novel, is more undisciplined than Gatsby, but Fitzgerald's raw talent shines through. About a young man with literary talents coming of age, the book is semi-autobiographical, experimental and endearingly pretentious, with smatterings of poetry and playwriting interspersed among the prose. A must-read for anyone interested in tracing the origins of Fitzgerald's lyrical genius.

Penguin Random House

Features Editor Pawan Minhas's pick: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

This winter break, take some time to read a book that will leave you:

  • Wondering where the line between science and divinity lies,
  • Re-examining what your conceptualization of 'humanity' is,
  • Disappointed when you realize the creature never actually meets Alvin and the Chipmunks.

It's the book that kicked off 'sci-fi' and has very cool backstory, to boot!

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Coordinating Editor Alex Nguyen's pick: South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami

There are just certain books that I can read hundreds of times without feeling tired of — South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami is one of them. It's a fairly straightforward story with a touch of magic realism that gets you feeling nostalgic for something that could have been.

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Video Editor Jack Bailey's pick: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind is breathtaking. It really is as good as everyone says it is. Once you get through the first few chapters this book is endlessly surprising, beautifully written and absolutely impossible to put down. It’s chock-full of moments that I still think about on long commutes, or the moments before falling asleep.

Book Depository

Visuals Editor Lua Presidio's pick: The Labours of Hercules by Agatha Christie

Who doesn't love a good mystery during the holidays? In this novel the famous detective Hercule Poirot returns to prove an acquaintance wrong about his lack of similarities to the mythological Hercules by undertaking his own metaphorical twelve labours. Its a quick read and each story is self-contained, meaning you can read them at your own pace without dying with anticipation. Although the labours are not all murder mysteries, they are all still entertaining and provide an opportunity for you to try to solve the mystery before the final reveal. And the best part is that you can sound fancy if anyone asks what you're reading this winter.

Good Reads

Blog and Opinion Editor Tristan Wheeler's pick: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

This winter break I'm settling a grudge match. I bought my copy of Toole's comedic masterpiece when I was in Grade 11 and I have not finished after multiple attempts. It was one of those books I would pick up, enjoy reading but never find the time to get back to and finish. This winter break I am making the commitment to jump into the twisted New Orleans of Ignatius J. Reilly and laugh through the holidays, something that I would recommend to anyone.

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Photo Editor Elizabeth Wang's pick: Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China by Fuchsia Dunlop

Every year at the end of the semester, finding a book with a suitable length and interesting content became the top priority on my agenda. After all, if you have to spend 13 hours on a plane to China and you don’t want to waste them all watching movies, you gotta have something prepared. Dunlop’s Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper is an autobiographical food-and-travel classic that talks about the eating experience of a group of English scholars in China in the 1990s. Their exploration of food is not only hunger-motivated craving but also an anthropological research into the developing China before the 21st century. If you want to know more about China from a cultural, casual perspective, you won't regret choosing this book.

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Culture Editor Thomas O'Donnell's pick: Spinning by Tillie Walden

If you've made it this far into the list, you must know that my opinion is obviously ~ the most important ~ as my whole job is looking at art while scowling and knowing which books are good.

I discovered Walden's work this year when I went on a Thanksgiving road trip with my mom. Normally I get car sick if read in a moving vehicle but Spinning is nausea inducing on its own (but like a good nausea? Like when you're getting seen really hard). Her description of growing up and the secrets you keep from yourself and others made me reflect on how truly happy that I never have to be a teen again. The art and use of white space draws you in so closely that you'll need to ask your mom to pull the car over so you can catharsis throw-up.