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  • Writer's pictureAlyssa T

Fun Reads to Take a Break with During Exam Season

With December comes that wonderful time of year: Exam Season! Classes are pumping out their final assignments, and students are gearing up for the last series of challenges before the Winter Break. After three months of hard work, it is an exhausting sprint across the finish line. While it may feel wrong to sit down with a book that isn’t listed in any of the syllabi, taking breaks from studying is an important step in reducing burnout. Thus, I have formed a list of some fun reads to take one’s mind off of the schoolwork, even if it is just a few pages here and there:

1. Romance: She Gets the Girl by Rachael Lippincott and Alyson Derrick

A fun, light-hearted rom-com is the perfect way to enjoy some time away from the textbooks while still reading! She Gets the Girl is about two young women starting their first year at University. These two devise a plan in which the confident Alex Blackwood helps shy, heart-eyed Molly get the girl she’s been in love with since highschool; in return, Alex’s “player” image is resolved in the eyes of her girlfriend, Natalie, who will be visiting on tour with her band. As their plan unfolds, the two end up becoming closer than expected and simultaneously learn important lessons about how they see themselves.

2. Fantasy: Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Stardust is a lot of chaos tucked into a short 256 pages. This novel serves as an escape into a completely different world with magic, curses, royal bloodlines, flying pirate ships, and labyrinth-like forests. Tristan Thorn leaves his small village to catch a fallen star and win the hand of the woman he loves; however, he finds himself caught in a fight for a crown he didn’t know existed. On top of everything, the fallen star is a woman named Yvain, and she is strong-willed, sarcastic, and not willing to blindly follow Tristan’s wants without putting up a fight of her own. As a bonus, this book was adapted into a movie! Although the film is quite different from the source material, it is a brilliant work of art.

3. Non-Fiction: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Best known for the iconic Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert has other inspiring works to check out. Big Magic is a non-fiction self-help book that explores creativity and curiosity with a combination of grounding thoughts and spiritual considerations. Equally motivating and compassionate, this book may just change how you approach creativity in your life, and may even inspire you in a refreshing way this exam season. Gilbert combines abstract ideas with concrete, personal stories to connect with the reader as much as she motivates them.

4. Classic: Emma by Jane Austen

A personal favourite of mine, as far as classics go, Emma is entertaining, fun, and comedic. Written in the early 1800s, this novel isn’t too difficult to read, and while still having that older, classical touch, is a light-hearted story. Emma Woodhouse is a young woman with a penchant for match-making that goes horribly awry after a series of miscalculations. With balls, picnics, surprise guests, surprise proposals, and more, Emma is a perfectly imperfect protagonist to follow. This book also has some incredibly romantic lines and, not to spoil too much, was actually the inspiration for the iconic 90s rom-com, Clueless!

5. Mystery: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Richard Papen leaves home to attend an elite liberal arts college across the country and ends up entangled with a small group of mysterious Classics students. The Secret History may seem like a poor reminder of the stresses of university life, although, the series of events that unfold are wildly unexpected and even involve the murder of Bunny Corcoran, one of Richard’s new friends. The story follows Richard as he unpacks the events that transpire, including shocking relationships, bitter rivalries, and rituals conducted under the hazy veil of drugs, music, and Vermont’s cold, night sky. Each new chapter reveals the next turn in a twisted maze leading to the truth behind Bunny’s death, and is sure to provide a thrilling break from studying.

Exam season is hard on the brain and the body. Research has shown that adequate breaks and self-compassion are integral in avoiding burnout. So, whether it is one of the listed books or another form of entertainment, be sure to take a well-deserved break from the stress of studying, even if it’s just for fifteen minutes a day.

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