Director of Operations
With Holiday Break coming up, now is the best time to add some much needed literary R&R to your christmas list and give yourself a break from school assigned reading. From the editors at The King’s’ Page to the staff at San Marcos, here are our picks for the best books to curl up with and read this month.
The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton by Lucille Clifton
Picked by: Frank Koroshec, English Instructor
Spoiler Free Synopsis: According to The Poetry Foundation, “Clifton’s work emphasizes endurance and strength through adversity, focusing particularly on African-American experience and family life.” Her poetry is at once timely and refreshing, especially given the social tensions that have surfaced in our current political context. Clifton encourages us to use our voices to speak out against oppression.
They would loan it to: So many of my students complain that they are “bad” at poetry. My response is that you can’t be good at something if you never practice. The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010, offers abundant practice opportunities, 700 pages and counting. If you want to understand poetry on deeper level, you have to develop an endurance for literary subtlety, and in the process, you may be inspired to write a poem of your own.
Why it is their holiday pick: When I recently took students to hear Paul Tran, a self-proclaimed queer & gender queer Vietnamese American poet, perform at the Breakfast Culture Club, he heralded Lucille Clifton’s collection as the Holy Bible of Poetry. With a description as such, I couldn’t help myself. I immediately purchased my own copy. To support your fellow students as they exercise their own poetic voices, in the spirit of Clifton, come to the San Marcos Poetry Slam in the library, December 13th through 15th.
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Picked by: Sherri Bryan, Librarian
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Spoiler Free Synopsis: The story of a girl, a boy, and the universe. This novel follows Natasha and Daniel, two strangers who have nothing in common, and the one day that they spend together in New York City. Both main characters come from immigrant families – Natasha is from Jamaica and Daniel is Korean American – a fact that plays a significant role in the story.
They would lend it to: This book is great for fans of Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor & Park) and John Green (The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska).
Why it is their holiday pick: The Sun is Also a Star is a perfect winter break read! It was a finalist for the National Book Award this year, proving once again that YA fiction can also be good quality literature. All of the characters in the book are complicated, interesting people, and that’s one of the things that makes it a great read. But the part that will sweep you off your feet is the intensity of the relationship between Natasha and Daniel.
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Picked by: Tia Hannah, Director of Operations
Genre: Science Fiction
Spoiler Free Synopsis: It’s the year 2575 and with her settlement, Kerenza, under attack by an unknown enemy, Kady Grant, a teenage colonist, becomes one of the many evacuees in a convoy of three ships harboring survivors. It soon becomes clear, however, that the attackers on their heels are the least of their concerns as the ships begin to face major internal problems.
They would loan it to: Sci-Fi junkies and lovers of found footage movies unite! (Just so long as those falling in either demographic aren’t offput by odd storytelling ploys). The literary equivalent of found footage, a series of classified documents, redacted emails and the like are pieced together in Illuminae to construct a narrative. Oftentimes, novels using gimmicky storytelling methods become harder to follow and lessen reader’s investment in the storyline and the characters. However, this isn’t the case with Illuminae, instead of suffering, the space opera somehow becomes even cooler as a result of its unusual format.
Why it is their holiday choice: When on break I tend to gravitate towards books that seem like fun and non-thinky reads, and that’s exactly what this book is. Compelling, well written and, from purely an aesthetic point of view, breathtaking, Illuminae is a genuine a good time.
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Picked by: Natasha Clemencon, Editor in Chief
Spoiler Free Synopsis: Lily Owens and the maternal figure in her life, a black woman named Rosaleen, live in South Carolina during the 1960s. After insulting the three largest racists in their town, Lily and Rosaleen flee and find themselves in Tiburon, South Carolina, the town that holds the secret of Lily’s biological mother’s past, where they are taken under the wing of three eccentric beekeeping sisters.
They would loan it to: Everyone! If you are capable of human emotion you will enjoy this book.
Why it is their holiday choice: The Secret Life of Bees is incredibly well written, each character is complex and the story is thoughtfully told. This novel offers readers the opportunity to learn from the contents of the story as well as from the characters and their experiences. Despite the bad, the characters prevail, and the ending, which is absolutely beautiful, makes it a perfect book for a holiday season full of love and light.