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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Newly-released books to read during spring quarter


Spring reads and sunny days on the Quad — the perfect pairing

Spring Quarter is here, and with it comes the slow but inevitable approach of the disgusting Davis heat, the bittersweet ending of the school year and the opportunity to finally relax in the Quad and soak up some sunshine. So if you’ve found your coveted spot in the grass, sit down, relax and enjoy some spring reads.

Non-Fiction: Universal: A Guide to the Cosmos by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw (Da Capo Press)


Given the current stress-inducing political climate, it can be refreshing to take a step back for a moment and to dive into the mysterious wonders of our universe to help put everything into perspective. Acclaimed physicists and bestselling authors Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw reintroduce us to questions that we might have pondered as kids and have long forgotten about — how old is the universe? How big is it? And how exactly do scientists go about collecting the data that leads them to their conclusions? The authors explore the scientific process and the answers to these questions in a way that is understandable and fascinating to the average reader. As The Guardian writer John Crace described, “….what this book is going to do is allow you to answer some of the big cosmic questions while lying down in your back garden after having a few drinks” — you might as well do this in the Quad, sipping on an iced coffee.

Short Stories: What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi (Riverhead Books)

Oyeyemi invites us into the lives of her characters, who are searching and longing for human connection and who are all linked to each other in some way by the constant re-emergence of key connections throughout the short stories. The author does an excellent job of blurring the lines between reality and imagination, sprinkling elements of magic and secrets into the plot that’ll have you impatiently flipping to the next page to see what happens next. The stories are crafted so uniquely, with weird and vivid descriptions, that they create a certain darkness that is intriguing and exciting — if not a bit ominous at times. This eccentric and heavily-praised book is the perfect storyteller to put you into an almost dream-like state, so be careful not to miss your next class.


Fiction: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (Penguin Random House)

Celebrated author George Saunders, perhaps best known for his acclaimed short stories, has released his first full-length novel about a father and son, focusing on none other than Abraham Lincoln and his deceased 11-year-old son, Willie. Publisher Penguin Random House may sum the novel up best: “Formally daring, generous in spirit, deeply concerned with matters of the heart, it is a testament to fiction’s ability to speak honestly and powerfully to the things that really matter to us. Saunders has invented a thrilling new form that deploys a kaleidoscopic, theatrical panorama of voices to ask a timeless, profound question: how do we live and love when we know that everything we love must end?”

Humor: It’s All Absolutely Fine by Ruby Elliot (Orion)

If you’re looking for a light read while you’re soaking up the sun in between classes, check out Elliot’s book that features cartoon drawings with text that have garnered her massive online fan base. Her spot-on and witty style captures the basic struggles of young adults and can be best described as “an honest and unapologetic account of day-to-day life as a groaning, crying, laughing sentient potato being for whom things are often absolutely not fine.” The 22-year-old London-based illustrator captures the difficulty of a variety of relatable struggles, from the general “adult-ing” to mental illness and anxiety, in a brutally honest and amusing way that reminds us that everything is going to be ok, even if it’s not always “all absolutely fine.”


Written by: Pari Sagafi — arts@theaggie.org


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