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Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

The Hatchet’s favorite books to carry you through the fall semester

Sophia Young | Assistant Photo Editor
“The Color of Law,” a historical nonfiction book, details actions taken by local, state and federal authorities to further housing segregation well into the late 20th century.

Textbook readings, journals and news articles might be piling up on your to-do list, but don’t let that stop you from picking up a book to read for pleasure.

Studies have shown that reading without restrictions, expectations or assignments is a great way to calm mental anxiety and feel a sense of intellectual accomplishment. We asked our staff what their favorite book of the summer was and why other people should give it a read.

If you’re hoping to keep your summer reading streak going into the school year, check out these recommendations:

“Unaccustomed Earth” by Jhumpa Lahiri
Short story collection
Shreeya Aranake | Contributing Opinions Editor

This collection of short stories includes themes and storylines highlighting the experiences of Indian Americans. It explores the experiences of older Indians who immigrated to the United States and the feelings of their children who grew up here. This mixture of perspective parallels the mixed cultural environments of the characters in these short stories.

“I loved this short story collection, because it magnifies the heartbreaking realities of growing up and growing apart from the people you’re supposed to be the closest to. It’s also an incredible portrait of the tumultuous nature of first and second generation immigrant identities.”

“Writers and Lovers” by Lily King
Grace Miller | Design Editor

A struggling writer in Boston, Casey Peabody, navigates her way through the unpredictability of life just after her mother’s death. She experiences passion and romance with old and new lovers, but nothing seems to work out all while contemplating the significance and purpose of her writing.

“‘Writers and Lovers’ is a beautiful portrait of grief and struggle written so honestly that it just seems like a snapshot of someone’s life. The writing is mature and the character arc you witness is both heart-wrenching and heartwarming. It’s brutally relatable and the captivating story arcs have you not wanting to put it down.”

“The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America” by Richard Rothstein
Historical nonfiction
Anna Boone | Culture Editor

Rothstein details actions taken by the local, state and federal government to further housing segregation well into the late 20th century. He also examines how the private sector played a role in pushing the Black community into economically shallow multi-family housing communities while white people enjoyed the benefits of single-family neighborhoods with accessible community resources.

“This non-fiction book about the history of housing segregation in this country is a vital read. It deconstructs naive assumptions about the state of predominantly Black communities that exist today and underscores the pervasive racism that existed in private and public sectors following the Civil Rights Movement.”

“The Unhoneymooners” by Christina Lauren
Contemporary romance/comedy
Grace Hromin | Senior Photo Editor

After a bride and groom get food poisoning at their wedding, a non-refundable honeymoon trip is taken by an unlikely pair. The brother of the groom and sister of the bride, who have hated each other for two and a half years, embark on a comedic and unexpected romantic trip together.

“The Unhoneymooners is a contemporary romantic comedy, basically an enemies-to-lovers trope with dramatic career and life choices mixed in. It was just an enjoyable summer read because it was cute and lighthearted while also easy to get through in one sitting.”

“The House in the Cerulean Sea” by T.J. Klune
Hannah Thacker | Managing Director

In a magical reality where children with supernatural characteristics exist, a government worker is given an assignment to assess an orphanage on the island of Marsyas. This orphanage is run by a secretive man who becomes a love interest for the unsuspecting main character.

“The House in the Cerulean Sea is a heartwarming book that blends fantasy elements with real-world problems and situations. Featuring a diverse cast of fantastic characters and a surprisingly relatable protagonist, this book left me with tears of joy.”

“Circe” by Madeline Miller
Historical fiction/fantasy
Clara Duhon | Contributing Culture Editor

Set during the Greek heroic age, this book incorporates adaptations of various Greek Myths. Told from the perspective of the witch Circe from the Odyssey, the novel details Circe’s origin story and follows her interactions with various figures in Greek mythology like Hermes and Odysseus.

“Circe is an ambitious intertwining of Greek myth set during the legendary Heroic Age. Miller’s rendition of Circe’s story is powerful, subversive and – despite its many predecessors – highly original.”

“The Five People You Meet in Heaven” by Mitch Albom
Philosophical fiction
Jaden DiMauro | Copy Editor

An 83-year-old amusement park ride mechanic dies unexpectedly on his birthday after a malfunction on a ride and finds himself in heaven. There he encounters five people who made significant impacts on his life when they were alive, whether he knew it or not.

“Mitch Albom’s ‘The Five People You Meet in Heaven’ is a syrupy-sweet story about life, death and love told through a heartwarming imagining of the afterlife. In a pandemic-altered world where the usually avoidable idea of death is painfully ever-present, “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” provides an oasis where the reader can take solace in Albom’s plain profundity and be reminded that ‘Life has to end. Love doesn’t.’”

“The Poppy War” by R.F. Kuang
High fantasy
Nuria Diaz | Contributing Sports Editor

Young Fang Runin, known as Rin, grows up poor as she was orphaned by the previous war. She focuses on studying to get into an elite military academy, where she develops a gift for Shamanism that allows her to call upon the vengeful Phoenix God.

“The book builds upon the character arcs to present the horrors of war and the bleakness of human nature. Overall, the book’s narrative pushes the reader out of their comfort zone to confront a reality many chose to ignore. The book holds a beautiful dark fantasy world that will keep you hooked until the end.”

“Golden Gulag” by Ruth Wilson Gilmore
Karina Ochoa Berkley | Assistant Copy Editor

“Golden Gulag” gives an eye-opening analysis of the circumstances surrounding the unreal incarceration rate in U.S. prisons, with a 450 percent increase since 1980 alone. Gilmore focuses specifically on California prison systems and analyses the systematic forces at work in this crisis.

“Gilmore, a professor at the City University of New York graduate center, provides one of the first cumulative, critical analysis of the political economy of super incarceration in California. The book analyzes how the proliferation of mass incarceration in California is not only symptomatic of global and local political and economic forces, but that the political consensus that prisons are a solution to social ills is incorrect.”

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