WE asked four international students what books they recommended for a winter’s night. Yoanita Marselia has their top picks.
There’s rubbish on TV and all you want to do is curl up by the fire, or more realistically, the mini heater with the fake fire, and read a good book. But how do you know what’s actually good and what’s just hype?
We hit the streets to ask a bunch of students what books they’re reading at the moment and whether they’d recommend them to their friends. Here are their must-reads this winter.
1. The Book Thief
By: Markus Zusak
Get it for: $11.92 from The Book Depository
Recommended by: Courtney Jeffkins
Plot: Death tells the story of Leisel Meminger living in 1939 Nazi Germany. After the death of her brother, Leisel steals a book dropped by a gravedigger.
This book marks the beginning of a love affair with books. She steals books wherever she finds them and eventually understands why her life has turned out the way it has.
Living in a world of war, hatred and sadness, Leisel documents her existence through the power of words.
The verdict: “The Book Thief is the most riveting book I have ever read. I read it at a time when I had recently experienced the death of someone close to me. The Book Thief forever changed the way I see death.
“The book is set in World War II-affected Germany and teaches you to question reality. Despite not being based on a specific historical event, the book makes you feel for the characters and forces you to understand the concept of death as experienced by the number of characters continuously affected by it. ‘I’m haunted by humans’ and will always be! I recommend this book to anyone and everyone who listens!”
2. Memoirs of a Geisha
By: Arthur Golden
Get it for: $9.50 from Booktopia
Recommended by: Vanessa Wong
Plot: Nitta Sayuri tells the story of her life in the seductive and exotic world of geishas. As a young girl, she was sold into slavery to an owner of a geisha house, who was intrigued by her blue-grey eyes.
In the years that follow, she transforms into a full-fledged geisha. More than just elaborate kimono and make-up, Sayuri learns that the life of a geisha is surrounded by jealous rivalry as she strives to captivate the most powerful of men and the elusiveness of love.
The verdict: “Memoirs of a Geisha is such a great read that after telling myself, ‘I’ll make some dinner after finishing this chapter,’ I found myself thinking, ‘Actually, I’ll go after the next,’ and so on until the book was finished.
“It’s written in a way that provokes admiration, outrage and fear for all the characters that Chiyo feels these emotions towards. It immerses the reader in the situations that Chiyo finds herself facing and provokes strong sympathy for the narrator herself. This book brings out the childish innocence in the narrator from the very beginning, which is something most readers can relate to.
“I thoroughly enjoyed reading Memoirs of a Geisha and definitely recommend it since it’s well written, engaging and also highly informative about traditional Japanese culture.”
3. Life of Pi
By: Yann Martel
Get it for: $11.40 from Booktopia
Recommended by: Oreno Luka
Plot: As a young man, Pi is passionate about zoology and spends a lot of time thinking about animals, but he also grows a fascination for religion. He adopts three faiths and finds joy in all of them.
But, his experiences are cut short when Pi’s parents decide to leave India and head to Canada. Tragedy strikes as the ship sinks and Pi is the only human survivor stuck on a lifeboat with a zebra, hyena, orangutan and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.
The verdict: “Life of Pi is a well-written and interesting tale of survival through some of the most difficult hardships life can throw. In the book, an older Pi is recollecting the events of his childhood and the shipwreck. This engaged me from the beginning and made me want to know more about Pi.
“Although the character development was slow at times, it was essential to understanding many things about the tough times encountered by Pi and the decisions he makes later in the book. These situations and decisions are expressed in a way that made me question myself and what I would do if I was put in Pi’s shoes. Life of Pi is definitely a winner in terms of wonder and inciting deep thought.”
4. The Beach
By: Alex Garland
Get it for: $7.99 from Bookworld
Recommended by: Sandra Annisa
Plot: Richard, a young backpacker from England, travels to Thailand looking for an adventure. While in Bangkok, he finds a map with details of an unknown island and secluded beach.
He embarks on an adventurous journey with a French couple and together they find paradise. Then things start to go wrong and a series of events puts everybody to the test, exposing their abilities to cope and survive when a real crisis puts all of them in danger.
The verdict: “The Beach is an amazingly captivating read! I could not put it down! I highly recommend it to anybody and everybody, but especially those who love to travel or have always wanted to backpack around the world.
“I felt like I was right there experiencing what the characters were feeling and will be sure to look out for my own secret beach next time I visit the tropics.”
What books top your list? Share your recommendations with us below, or email your reviews to firstname.lastname@example.org.