Life at UCB through the eyes of our international student bloggers

My top 4 Summer Reads!

My top 4 Summer Reads!

With the world starting to be digitalised, there’s nothing fresher than having a good-ol’ book in hand. It’s always nice to take a break from the endless scrolling and the blue light coming off of our screens. You have no idea what book you’d like to read? No problem! Here are some of my favourite books that I’ve read over the summer. (More like, my favourite books forever.) 

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

This novel is about our narrator, Richard Papen, who enrols himself into an elite college in New England and finds himself intrigued with a group of clever yet eccentric misfits, which was under the influence of their classics professor. It is a whydunit murder mystery plot, where the reader tries and find out why Henry Winters murdered their friend, ‘Bunny’ Corcoran. Don’t worry, this isn’t a spoiler as this was immediately introduced at the beginning of the chapter. 

Despite it being Tartt’s debut novel, it is beautifully written, the words swallow you whole and immerse you within the book, which is one of the reasons why I love it so much. The second reason why I love this book is that it is satire. The satirical tone that critiques the classism and elitism of academia and the pretentiousness of the characters pinpoints the disadvantages of (some) upper-class students, private universities and its privileges. It takes one to recognise this as most readers don’t immediately understand that it’s satire. In fact, most readers glamorise these characters which Donna Tartt was trying to avoid. 

Overall, it is really fun to read especially if you’re a fan of Greek Myth, as it is one of the recurring themes throughout the book. I would also highly recommend this if you’re a fan of campus novels, murder mysteries and thrillers, or if you’d want to expand your tastes in the book genre, then I’d recommend this, too! 

If We Were Villains by M.L Rio 

Just like Donna Tartt, this novel was also M.L Rio’s debut novel. It is a murder mystery that revolves around our main character, Oliver Marks, who narrates his time being a 4th-year student in Dellecher Shakespeare conservatory. 

Unlike Tartt, Rio took the traditional route of the murder mystery genre and stuck with the whodunit plot. The way he wrote captured my interest, and as a person who also studied Shakespeare at secondary school, it was super interesting and fun to read through the quotes and relive my time as an English Literature student. The suspense was gripping and it thrilled me, keeping me at the edge of my seat, staying up late at night as I was eager to find out who the killer was. 

The plot twist was something I was not expecting at all. (Like most plot twists are.) It took me a while to recover from the ending as it is just that good. If you enjoyed The Secret History, then no doubt, you’d enjoy this one as well. 

The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman

Jane Hudson, our narrator, tells her story about being a single mother struggling to adjust to her new life teaching Latin at her secondary school, Heart Lake. To which she never knew she would come back to, especially as her last year ended in a fatal and mysterious double tragedy. If you couldn’t already tell, campus novels and murder mysteries are my favourites. 

Out of the two, I would say that this is my favourite as this is the first book I’ve read that involved mostly girls. Throughout reading the book, I kept making assumptions on who the killer is, only to end up being wrong. It is beautifully written and very descriptive, it definitely helped me picture the scenes out in my head. Like every other murder mystery plot, this plot twist also left my brain short-circuiting. It didn’t help when I finished this at one in the morning, I literally could not sleep after that. 

Ace of Spades by Faridah Abike-lyimide 

Yep, another campus novel for you! However, unlike the other three, this book is slightly different. It is not a murder mystery, but instead a contemporary thriller. It is about two students, Devon and Chiamaka, and their struggles against an anonymous bully. 

The changes of point of view between the main characters are what I loved in Ace of Spades, I was able to sympathise with the characters individually. I was able to see how they live, see their thought process. Funnily enough, I was able to finish reading the book in one sitting because the writing style was articulate and very gripping, it just makes me want to keep reading and to find out who’s who and why these ominous things are happening, and specifically why at them. 

Overall, whether you are a big fan of campus novels and murder mysteries or just simply trying to find new books to read to pass time, then hopefully I have helped to find the one! 



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