Five Books to Read this semester

By Iciar Fernandez 

Yes, five. From recent titles to old gems, I recommend you grab your favourite drink and a comfy seat, because once you delve into the pages of any of these, you won’t be able to move until you’re finished.


The Testaments, Margaret Atwood


She did it again. With this being a completely biased review, because there is not a single line Atwood has penned that I haven’t loved, there is a reason why everyone is talking about this novel. You will be angry, sad, hopeful, and angry again. A dystopia more relevant to our era than I would like to admit, this thought-provoking read will linger in the reader’s mind for long after you’ve put it back in the bookshelf. Only one prerequisite: read The Handmaid’s Tale first. But not to worry – both are so intense, addictive, and relevant, that you will most definitely get through them in a day.


The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway



If you are into art, this may as well be the Starry Night of short novels. But you don’t need to be an expert to fall in love with the narrative. In only 127 pages, a story of an ageing fisherman on a lonely quest to catch a giant marlin goes from “Why would I be interested in reading this” (at least my thoughts when I first heard of its plot at 15), to “This is a book that I could read 100 times again”. This slim modern classic is a tale of one man’s struggle against his own doubts, and at the same time, it is simply what it is – a well-written, unadorned fishing story.


Inferior, Angela Saini


The complete title of this non-fiction book is “Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong – and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story”. Which is, in a nutshell, exactly what this brilliant book is about. It is no secret that in certain ways, science has historically been skewed to ‘explain’ the stereotypes that women have so long fought against: from why we are weaker and thus best suited to stay at home, to the pink-blue dichotomy that we are imposed since childhood. Saini sheds light into how science is rewriting the old theories, debunking the claims of sex differences that make women “inferior”. A must-read to tear down misogyny with facts. 


Love Poems, Pablo Neruda


One of the greatest poets of the 20th century, Neruda wrote these verses before turning 20. A universal read for anyone that has ever been in love, and gone through heartbreak, Neruda transforms emotion into a tangible form; he compares it to the earth, to birds, to the sea. Its original title in Spanish is “20 Love Poems and A Song of Despair”, and if you want to learn some romantic Spanish while enjoying Neruda’s mesmerizing poetry, you can get the bilingual version at Indigo!



Colorless Tsukuru Takazi and His Years of Pilgrimage, Haruki Murakami


width="150"A classic Bildungsroman (in literary criticism), and a coming-of-age story (in everyday English), this book is filled with moments that will resonate with anyone. It is perhaps those instances that make the adventure that Murakami narrates in this fiction novel feel so familiar – despite the fact that unlike his protagonist, I am not passionate about railway stations, nor have I embarked on a quest to find my long lost friends. That’s as much as I will give away about the plot; it’s worth it to find out the rest by yourself.


Still hungry for more reads? Connect with fellow bookworms through the UBC Alumni Online Bookclub, or join the UBC Bookstore Bookclub! Looking for something more niche? Find themed bookclubs in Van here. Happy reading!