Staff Picks: February Slump Edition

Staff Picks is NYU Local’s book list curated by our staff bibliophiles. We’ll be bringing you you seasonal suggestions for great books: new and old, and never boring.

February sucks. The cruel and cold New York winter wind is putting a damper on your social life and it’s too early to get serious about midterms, so what to do when you’ve already re-watched Arrested Development two three times and still have three to four weeks of hibernation to cope with?

Just in time to remedy your February/quarter-of-the-way-through-the-semester slump is NYU Local’s seasonal reading list to get you through one of the bleakest months (always darkest before the dawn, kids, hold tight). Read on for hand-picked suggestions from our staff:

Maegan Vazquez suggestsPoet in New York by Federico Garcia Lorca

Because: Everything about this compilation of poems screams February in New York City. It was written during Lorca’s time at Columbia University, and it should make you angsty enough to want to cut class. The poems are filled with expressions of New York’s most beautiful quirks—homelessness, dirt, and loneliness.

John Surico suggestsThe Stranger by Albert Camus

Because: Camus’s Nobel Prize-winning novella was basically written for winter, along with any piece of Russian literature ever. The protagonist’s apathy towards an increasingly absurd situation sparks a post-World-War-II existentialism that’ll make you want to borrow up inside so you don’t have to deal with the world until April. Also, it’s a very quick read so, like, yeah, great for short attention spans.

Joe Larson suggestsA Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers

BecauseHologram offers two snapshots of the modern world, neither of which I expected to encounter. The first, a telling depiction of Saudi Arabian cultural practices, as seen through the eyes of an American. The second, a tale of America’s rising role in the global economy-specifically the increase of manufacturing outsourcing—a very interesting snapshot of America’s role in the economy—and the effect of exporting manufacturing—but in a way that is barely about economics. As an economics major who has completed plenty of study in international economics, Dave Eggers’s novel offers a clearer example of the effects of a global economy than anything I’ve ever read in a textbook. I really enjoyed it.

Ava Kiai suggests: The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

Because: I love Hammett’s New York; it’s like Don Draper if Don Draper were less of a douche, more of a detective, and exceedingly clever as he solved mysteries with his sexy wife all while keeping his cool and his martini-bearing hand steady. A perfect February escapist novel that’s short, fast and entertaining and successful at repeatedly replacing the bleak images outside your window with mental ones of warm packed ballrooms that cast incandescent light onto the streets of a humidity-free and Gatsby-esque Manhattan. Plus murder.

Ben Miller suggestsSweet Talk by Stephanie Vaughn

Because: Better known by writers than by even avid readers, Vaughn’s collection places her among the masters of the short story. Writing about an upbringing on military bases as a child, her voice is minimalist but still emotional, realist but still attuned to the spiritualities and sensitivities of childhood. The first and last stories might be among the greatest 25 short stories in the English language, and makes this cynic weep every time I read them.

 


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