Illustration by Dina Mobaraki


Leave behind class assignments and read for the sake of it this winter. Here’s a list of recommendations from The Gazelle’s editorial board to get you started.

Dec 12, 2022

Amrita Anand, Deputy Copy Chief and Deputy News Editor: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Miller's way of combining traces of history with the mythology of the Iliad into this novel is absolutely magical — though the book does not expect that you have done the required reading, so to speak, its way of building dread is compounded for those who have the context for the tragedy of Achilles and Patroclus. Those in the audience who rail against historical inauthenticity rejoice, for Miller adopts an incredibly faithful approach to her representation of ancient Greek society.
Patroclus' narration provides a deeply fascinating angle to the tale, and I found the echoes of prophecy to be utterly compelling in their constant reminders of the inevitability of his and Achilles' tragedy. If you are a fan of Greek mythology and love to get your heart broken by earnest love, this novel is definitely worth the read!
Yana Peeva, Deputy Columns Editor: Ace of Spades by Faridah Abike-Iyimide
Recently, Ace of Spades has gained a lot of popularity on BookTok and is one of the few novels I believe deserve the hype. It is both an entertaining and well-structured contemporary detective story and a social commentary on racism and classism within the American educational system, especially in private high schools. In this way it opens up a conversation about the unexpected depths of hate crimes and their perpetrators, and the history that leaves unhealable scars.
Liyan Mustafa, Deputy Features Editor: The Guest List by Lucy Foley
I read this in one sitting a few years ago, and bought it for two of my friends. I think its incredibly well written and paced, and has a very unique structure for a murder mystery. It follows the event of a wedding, someone (unsurprisingly) dies, but what makes it interesting is the different perspectives of random characters from only the day before and day of the murder. It is horrifying, clever, and the plot twists have stuck with me since.
Sameera Singh, Senior Features Editor: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
This book is a memoir, exploring a difficult time in Gottlieb’s personal and professional life as a therapist and someone actively seeking therapy to navigate her own troubles. Accounting five different patients she treats in parallel with glimpses into her own therapy sessions, the book explores humanness — grief, joy, introspection — in a raw and authentic way.
As someone deeply passionate about mental health and only now coming to terms with wanting to get involved in it professionally, I was struck by the long winded journey the author took to end up as a psychotherapist. I am cognizant of the fact that it takes massive amounts of privilege to be able to question one’s passions and quit multiple jobs and schools mid way well into their 30s to decide on a career, but Gottlieb’s struggles to finally choose mental health work after years of medical school reminded me that it is never too late to arrive where you are meant to be. A career in mental health is not an easy one, and the author’s own acknowledgement of this resonated deeper than I anticipated.
Sidra Dahhan, Features Editor: The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak
“To immigrants and exiles everywhere, the uprooted, the re-rooted, the rootless, And to the trees we left behind, rooted in our memories ...” Elif Shafak.
I have always felt like trees lend themselves to being a potent symbol. A symbol of life, of strength, of time. This book is the embodiment of this — it so powerfully explores what it means to belong. What it is to belong to a land being torn in two and as a migrant. A story of love, generational trauma, and identity, this novel uses 1970s Cyprus and 2010s London as a backdrop in a tale of people trying to find each other in a divided land as a singular ficus carica — fig tree — binds together this past and present.
Huma Umar, Editor-in-Chief: A Country for Dying by Abdellah Taïa
“What I need is a gaze that is true, free, that doesn’t judge me, that sees me and nothing more,” Zannouba.
In A Country for Dying, Taïa explores the lives of four immigrants in Paris, all intertwined by Zahira — a central character who leaves Morrocco in the aftermath of her father’s suicide and works as a sex worker to make it by. Between immigration, marginalization and various dislocations — spatial, economic and gendered — Taïa explores the havoc these play on the belonging, selfhood and autonomy of the characters in the book. There is a certain kind of loss that all of the characters face, one that fragments their histories, their sense of self, their families, their associations with ‘home,’ resulting in a brokenness that they struggle to piece back together. The book reads as an especially intimate study of postcolonial disillusionment and fragmentation of self.
Githmi Rabel, Editor-in-Chief: Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai
I have been recommending this book for years. I read it for the first time when I was 12 and since then I carry it with me wherever I go and turn to its pages every so often. It is a difficult and uncomfortable read, and Arjie's story, of understanding and exploring his queerness during a time when Sri Lanka was becoming increasingly hostile and violent to its Tamil population, forces one to question state narratives of unity. Politics plays out in intimate ways, with forced displacement looming near.
Honorable Mentions
Ahmed Bilal, Senior Editor Multimedia: Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Speculative hard science-fiction concerning alternative evolution. A rather tongue-in-cheek commentary on the search for extraterrestrial life and the self-obsession of human researchers.
Shanzae Siddiqui, News Editor: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Some truly beautiful life lessons on friendship and unconditional love!
Shahram Chaudhry, Deputy Features Editor: 1984 by George Orwell
Huma Umar is Editor-in-Chief. Email them at
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