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The Campus Lantern

The Campus Lantern

Five winter reads

Sirens and Muses by Antonia Angress

Not at SCH – 385 pages

An incredibly enjoyable read, Angress’ debut novel follows four struggling artists through their careers at the fictional Wrynn College. Often compared to The Secret History, as every book with a college setting is, Angress’ novel has a much less dream-like tone and instead candidly explores the interconnection these characters find within sexuality, class differences, and the struggling economy of 2011. Despite its forthright tone, Angress’ expert plotting and story structure gives the story a captivating briskness. 

Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes by Suzanne Collins

At SCH – 747 pages

Currently the #1 movie in the world, Suzanne Collins brought the bestselling Hunger Games trilogy back with a thrilling twist on the original format.

If you have already seen the movie: read the book! While the movie does an impressive job of capturing the emotions and themes of the novel, the limits of the medium erase Snow’s viewpoint and neuter the true depths of his character. There is a callowness to Snow and his extreme sense of privilege blinds him to the faults in his own character – while heightening his awareness of everyone else’s.

If you have not seen the movie: read the book first! As someone who read the book before watching, I had a much better understanding of the political scenes than my friends who had not. One point better understood by a reader is how exclusive being a part of the Capitol elite is, and how desperate these teenagers are to keep their status. While the exposition of the movie certainly does not drag, it is much more exciting when someone understands the class politics towards which Snow has dedicated his life (excluding the knowledge that some of his classmates are actually retired, cannibals).

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

At SCH – Free Online – 372 pages

Jane Eyre is a classic that deserves every inch of its longevity. A book that invented the Romantic Gothic genre, inspired countless imitations, and was a successful publication by a woman in the 1840s (although originally using a pen name) – it has a legacy far longer than it’s reasonable page length. Unlike Sirens and Muses, which is almost entirely plot-driven, Bronte’s writing, refined from years of writing poetry, will trap you into it first. But the plot is no slouch either. There is mystery, there is romance, and there is so much deception. Best of all is the tone of the novel. The gothic elements caused by the cold, forested setting create not a Christmas vibe but a foreboding winter one. 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

At SCH – Free Online – 66 pages

For the winter season, sometimes all you need is a classic Christmas story. Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has been told in a million different ways over centuries (including a creepy Muppet version), but no rendition could top the book itself. Much like Jane Eyre, A Christmas Carol’s ghost story and (at the time) modern fable reinvented its genre. This is a book that has never gone out of print and hopefully never will.

While this book is much shorter than most, the novella has incredibly rich storytelling and rich characters allowing this Christmas tale to escape from the overwrought sentimentality of its genre. As a book, it is as perfectly Christmas as candy canes and the smell of green fir trees.

The Woman in Me by Britney Spears

Not at SCH – 275 pages 

A popstar memoir is not typically something that I read. With most musicians, what you see in their videos and hear on their albums is all I want. Britney Spears’ memoir, however, is at a completely different level.

Openly co-written and incredibly candid, the book covers Britney’s atmospheric rise to the top through the nightmare of the late 2000s, ending with the conservatorship that stole a decade of her life. Despite the star’s bubbly, Americana persona, Spears’ memoir often feels like a book of horrors in the same vein as recent feminist films Fresh and Promising Young Woman. And while some of the more salacious bits have already made headlines, especially her unwanted abortion of Justin Timerlake’s baby and her father’s insane declaring that “I am Britney Spears now”, the book holds so much more than a couple of terrifying anecdotes. It is Britney’s account, a book of a woman famous for her voice and body but is only now able to reclaim it.

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About the Contributor
Emma Ludwikowski '25
Emma Ludwikowski '25, Staff Writer
Emma is a junior at SCH. She can usually be found in the science building with Team 1218 or at crew practice.
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