12 Books to Read this Winter

Posted on: 16 December 2021

Stories can be a powerful motivator for social action: through connecting us to people and the experience of others to highlighting causes we may not have been aware of, we are able to learn and be inspired, ultimately leading us to creating and being a part of positive change. 

Like so many graduates, I found that university was a time that stifled my love of reading. Between all the compulsory texts, lectures, and extracurricular activities I just didn’t have the mental space or time to read anything else. Once I graduated, it took me a little while to get out of my reading slump as there are so many good books out there, it was overwhelming to know where to start. Recommendations from people I trusted helped me hone in a few great reads, so from our team to you, here are some recommendations we know you’ll enjoy whether you’re in a reading slump or not!

Fiction and Poetry

The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe A bank robbery goes wrong when the daughter of a con woman is held hostage. Catherine recommends this book as it’s got a good momentum with a multifaceted female character with lots of layers to her story. 

Loveless by Alice Oseman Liz suggests Loveless as it’s a good representation of aromanticism and asexuality, as well as showing us the equal value of all types of love. Loveless follows Georgia – a fanfic and romance obsessed teen – as she goes to university and starts to wonder why what seems so easy for everyone else is so difficult for her.

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak This book focuses on a love story between two Cypriots from opposite sides of the island. The book looks at the war which separated the island, the stigma against Cyprus, and the two sides. Unsal recommends this book as one of the most beautiful and historically correct fiction ever written about Cyprus. 

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller Based on ‘The Iliad’, Fiona recommends this stunning re-imagining of the love story between Achilles and Patroclus as they grow up and eventually reach the Battle of Troy. If you enjoy Greek mythology and are looking for something centering a female protagonist, Circe also by Miller is an excellent choice. 

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin The original boy wizard story written by literary icon Le Guin follows Ged as he explores his power and learns that with great power comes responsibility for oneself, our communities, and nature. Sim recommends this for anyone looking for something a little fantastica with amazing worldbuilding but short. 

Winter Hours by Mary Oliver Elle recommends this collection of poems and essays which cross themes of nature and writing, all writing with stunning clarity and imagery. Elle returns to this book every year when they need a reminder of hope and beauty of the natural world amidst the cold, dark winter days. Three book covers in a graphic. From left to right they are "Loveless" by Alice Oseman, "The Island of Missing Trees" by Elif Shafak and "A Wizard of Earthsea" by Ursula K. Le Guin


Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez Fiona recommends this book as it does a great job of showing us how, in a world largely built for and by men, we are systematically ignoring half the population. 

The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green If you are looking for something deep and meaningful, but also presented in short bite-sized pieces whilst also learning some random facts, then this ones for you. In this book, Green reviews facets of the human-centred experience on a 5-star scale. Sim recommends this for it’s chapters on the Lascaux Cave paintings, Sunsets, Googling Strangers, and Diet Dr Pepper. 

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton Dolly Alderton survived her twenties (just about) and in this book she gives an unflinching account of the bad dates and squalid flat-shares, the heartaches and humiliations, and most importantly, the unbreakable female friendships that helped her to hold it all together. 

Millennial Black by Sophie Williams This book is an excellent deep exploration of what it means to be black, female, and a millennial in the workplace, looking at history both within the UK and other western countries, and provides tangible steps on what we can all do to be allies and create more inclusive workplaces. 

Make Time by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky If you’re feeling like your work and other responsibilities are leaving you burnt-out and without time for the things you love, then this one’s for you. Written by innovative thinkers Knapp and Zeratsky, they walk you through a wide range of tips, tricks, tools, and tactics to help you get control of your calendar and tasks so you have time for the things you are passionate about. 

Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman The weight of the world and current news can be relentlessly negative at times. This book is a great antidote to that feeling, presenting a history of humanity through a positive lens. Bregman argues for compassion and that by taking a more hopeful view, we can create lasting positive change. Three book covers in a graphic. From left to right they are "Make Time" by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky, "Millennial Black" by Sophie Williams and "Human Kind" by Rutger Bretman

Here’s a few books to get you started – if you read any or have any books you’d like to share, let us know in the comments! 

Happy reading! 

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Simran Dhanjal

Sim Dhanjal is Student Hubs' CEO. She leads on strategy, governance, finance, fundraising and external relations. Sim started her social action journey as a student volunteer with Southampton Hub.

Tags: Education, People and Culture

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