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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Maddie’s Library: Winter break reading list

“Vampires of El Norte” by Isabel Cañas tells the story of childhood friends who have to deal with both war and mythical creatures. (Photo courtesy of Goodreads)

Confession time: I’m seven books away from completing my 2023 Goodreads challenge of 40 books. If you’re doing the math, that will be about one book every three days. It won’t be easy, but it’s a challenge I’m willing to accept. Here are the seven books I hope will close out my year and a few bonus picks to get my 2024 started.

“Silver Nitrate” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
A cursed movie set, a legendary cult horror film director, ghosts of girlfriends past. All the makings of a creepy page-turner, though Halloween has come and gone.

“The Country of the Blind” by Andrew Leland
My quarterly foray into the nonfiction world brings me to Leland’s autobiographical account of his progressive journey into total blindness. Part memoir and part cultural exploration, Leland dives into the world of blindness often ignored by sighted society.

“Vampires of El Norte” by Isabel Cañas
Childhood best friends and sweethearts Nena and Nestor reunite on less-than-ideal terms — the United States and Mexico are at war and creatures from their culture’s folktales have leapt out of their nightmares and into real life.

“The Spectacular” by Fiona Davis
Davis’ tale of crime and intrigue in the 1950s world of the Rockettes promises a camp peek into the glamorous world of mid-century Manhattan and the advent of psychological profiling.

“When Women Were Dragons” by Kelly Barnhill
Three words, 26 letters, say it and I’m yours: feminist speculative fiction. What happens when hundreds of thousands of women, as the title suggests, turn into dragons?

“Sula” by Toni Morrison
I read Morrison’s “Beloved” for class this semester, and now I’ll be devouring the rest of her critically acclaimed work immediately. “Sula” tells the story of two young Black women whose paths diverge and reconnect later in life.

“Eileen” by Otessa Moshfegh
If you’re ever desperate for me to read a book, make a film adaptation starring Anne Hathaway. “Eileen” details a young secretary’s spiral into obsession with an older woman and her subsequent dalliance with crime.

“The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store” by James McBride
When a construction crew finds a skeleton in the remnants of an immigrant neighborhood, decades of secrets come to light along with it.


“Do You Remember Being Born?” by Sean Michaels
What’s winter break without a dose of existential dread? For all the talk about artificial intelligence on campus, I haven’t seen it trickle much into fiction yet, but Michaels tells the story of an author tasked with training an AI model to write a poem and the ramifications of her choice.

“Birnam Wood” by Eleanor Catton
When I hear a book is about a gardening group, my mind doesn’t immediately jump to a psychological thriller, but that’s what Catton delivers in “Birnam Wood.” As the group spars with a billionaire to acquire land that would finally bring them out of the red, founder Mira deals with natural disasters, untrustworthy business partners and the challenge of leading a group of people hell-bent on survival.

“Love & Saffron” by Kim Fay
No list of mine will be complete without a love letter to female friendship and Fay’s 2022 novel combines this favorite genre of mine with my preferred love language — making food for my friends. After a letter and a gift of saffron bring two women together, their correspondence, with the backdrop of the tumultuous 1960s, changes their lives in unexpected ways in what promises to be the feel-good novel of my dreams.

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About the Contributor
Madeline Marriott, Editor-in-Chief
Maddie (she/her) is a senior English major with a Government & Law minor. As the Editor-in-Chief, a Mentor Writing Associate, a Senior Student Contributor for Lafayette Communications, a Communications Intern for the Office of Sustainability, co-founder and Vice President of English Club, and a Senior Interviewer for Lafayette Admissions, no writing happens on campus without her knowing about it. Her Google Calendar would make your head spin. She is a die-hard Swiftie and Phillies fan, a collector of tote bags, a builder of a Hay Day empire, and an avid Goodreads and Letterboxd user. She smokes cigars and uses an old-timey typewriter and notepad in the newsroom.

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