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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Reading beyond the textbook: Fall book recommendations

Georgia Berry
A student sits down to relax and read “Babel” by R.F. Kuang after a long day of classes. Photo by Georgia Berry / Production Editor

Another fall semester is upon UMass Boston! And the changes from summer to fall aren’t just in the leaves. Freshmen are sophomores, juniors are seniors. Fresh faces call the dorms home. The morning Dunkin’ line stretches to JFK/UMass station once again, the Calculus I homework is daunting as ever, and the new quad is still under construction. The more things change, the more they stay the same! 

One thing that has year-round potential for change is hobbies. New ones pop up out of nowhere all the time; knitting, swimming, gaming. Countless options! But why not commit to one of the all-time greatest? Reading has grown underappreciated recently, but there really is something for everyone. As Boston trades the blistering sun for the cool moon and students trade happiness for increased stress, why not trade 15 minutes of free time for an experience like no other?

In “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” by V.E. Schwab, Adeline LaRue wants more from life than 18th century France can give her. She wants to travel the globe and experience its wonders, but instead faces a life of chores and confinement to a husband’s will. 

On the eve of her wedding, desperation forces her to make a wish that haunts her for 300 years. She is forgotten by all who see her and wanders the Earth as an undead phantom, living as she wishes, but she can never stay in one place too long—until she meets someone outside of the rules.

Schwab threads a plethora of relatable emotions through a narrative that spans across centuries: the joy of being remembered, the grief brought by insecurity, the despair of a life unfulfilled.

Taking place in the beautifully crafted land of Arawiya, “The Sands of Arawiya” duology by Hafsah Faizal tells the shared story of two characters finding their place in the world. Zafira Iskandar is the fabled Hunter of Demenhur. Nasir Ghameq is the feared Prince of Death. They are polar opposites with more in common than they think.

A quest on the Island of Sharr intertwines their fates, spills secrets and puts the future of their home in their hands. Faizal’s meticulously-designed Arawiya comes to life as her characters evolve and wrangle with the ever-twisting conspiracy unfolding before them.

In “The Lost Apothecary” by Sarah Penner, Nella Clavinger operates her mother’s hidden apothecary. While her mother only wanted to help women with medicine, Nella has taken it upon herself to aid those who have been wronged by their lovers. She covers her tracks expertly, but all changes when she is visited by a patron much younger than her others.

Nearly 300 years in the future, Caroline Parcewell is on a vacation in London to escape the pain inflicted by her unfaithful husband. An odd bottle she finds in the bank of the St. James River transforms her attempted escapism into a journey of discovery and healing.

Penner tells the stories of two women done wrong by adulterous men, centuries apart. Two very different women, two different fates, but a connection between them spans time and delivers a satisfying read with a bittersweet ending.

In “Babel” by R.F. Kuang, 19th century England is built upon silver bars infused with magical translations. When he turns 15, Chinese-born orphan Robin is enrolled in Babel, the finest institution for silver bar production on the planet.

As he hones his skills as a translator, Robin learns the truth of Babel’s exploitative nature and the benefits it reaps from England’s imperialist policies. Kuang paints a picture of a young man tortured by the desire to stand against oppression without sacrificing all he has been given. If rebellion is a flame, then compliance is the rain.

If any of these books sound appealing, they are available to borrow at several Boston Public Library locations and to own in a number of physical and online booksellers! If not, there are still many books that fit any criteria and taste imaginable. Happy reading!

About the Contributors
Adam Shah, Contributing Writer
Georgia Berry, Production Editor