At the end of another semester at Bangor, it is nearly time for the Christmas holidays; this year, the end of semester is a little bittersweet. Because of COVID-19, the next few weeks will feature the end of any in-person classes and a mass-migration across the country for any student going home. Whether you’re going by train, sharing a car with housemates or hopping on the bus, it’s going to be a long ride home for Christmas. Your phone battery may run low, the Wifi might be terrible, so what better way to spend your time than delving into a great read? We’ve scoured our shelves (and the Internet) to find the best books to engross you on a long journey, but not so much that you miss your stop!

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

Written in the 1950s by a sixteen-year-old American, S.E. Hinton’s debut novel not only has an incredible backstory, but will pack a punch with its poetic and profound tale. Telling the story of Ponyboy, his brothers and friends, following the teenager over the two weeks in his life where everything changes. Between cliques and gang warfare, it is hard enough to find your identity in your teens, nevermind when pranks go horribly wrong. Soon enough, Ponyboy finds himself on the run, trying to make sense of a world where everything seems to be falling apart. Short and sombre, The Outsiders looks at the ever-relevant question of what makes us human in an age of chaos and uncertainty.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

It might have featured Jim Carrey or even the Muppets, but if you’ve watched the film it’s about time you read the book! A Christmas Carol is a staple text in British literature and stories of the festive season. Far from the merry title suggests, Dickens’ famous novella focuses on the importance of helping one another, kindness, and poverty in the Victorian era. The main character, Scrooge, may sound familiar to you, but A Christmas Carol will shed light onto a character everyone thinks they know, and hopefully put you in the Christmas spirit!

The Giver by Lois Lowry

One of the original young adult dystopian tales, The Giver is an oft-forgotten masterpiece. Lowry’s haunting tale of 12-year-old Jonas’ discovery of life beyond a totalitarian state will leave you with chills – another reason to wrap up warm! The world of The Giver may seem idyllic, but everything changes once we discover that in this world, there is no such thing as emotion, and colour doesn’t exist. It is only when Jonas is given knowledge of the feelings his society suppresses that he realises what his perfect yet fragile community is being deprived of. Although this is the first in a quartet, all four books can act as standalone reads, and at just over a hundred pages, no doubt you will fly through this by the time you arrive home, and with any luck, will be begging for the rest of the series as gifts for Christmas…

Stay safe and Merry Christmas!

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Books Editor | 20-21 Travel Editor | 19-20

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