College often makes reading for enjoyment - not just skimming for your discussion section - difficult. With spring quarter moved online and social distancing becoming the norm (remember, six feet!), now is the perfect time to catch up.

To get you started, here are a list of books that will help, and perhaps inspire, you to make the most of this unprecedented break:

If you never got around to a history class at Stanford…
Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
Mantel recounts Thomas Cromwell’s rise to be King Henry VIII’s right hand man (yes, that is the one who killed some of his wives). Mantel has achieved worldwide celebrity for her lively, accurate, compelling story of Cromwell and the king he served. Cromwell’s world comes alive through Mantel’s addictive writing and sharp characterization.

If you need fitness motivation during quarantine…
Sun and Steel, by Yukio Mishima
Technically, this is not a book, but a long autobiographical essay about bodybuilding. Sort of. Here Mishima explores the complicated and necessary relationship between art and action, beauty and vitality, and his own search for identity.

If you’re wondering what all the hype is about…
The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Half of you have read this series three times over, and the other half have been meaning to – either way, here’s your chance to dive into one of the best epics put to paper. It is a tale of hope, power, love, friendship, and of course, the battle between good and evil. What more could you want?

If you planned to study abroad at Oxford this spring…
Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
At once a story of decay and redemption, the book Waugh called his magnum opus follows Oxford student Charles Ryder through his entanglements with the aristocratic Flyte family in the decades preceding World War II.

If you miss Stanford’s hook-up culture…
I am Charlotte Simmons, by Tom Wolfe
The titular Charlotte Simmons leaves her small rural town to begin her first semester at a university Wolfe describes as “Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Duke, and a few other places all rolled into one,” and soon faces the harsh reality of its student culture.

If it’s time to turn that start-up dream into reality…
Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters
Founder of the Stanford Review Peter Thiel, along with Blake Masters, optimistically fuel the next generation of innovation. Beyond a simple handbook for start-ups, this book redefines our vision of success in the 21st century and outlines how to achieve it. Global pandemic, online spring quarter, S/NC’s a great time to build something new!

Where to Read for Free Online

  • Stanford’s SearchWorks has an eBook copy of Zero to One.
  • Open Library has editions of Sun and Steel, Brideshead Revisited, I am Charlotte Simmons, Wolf Hall, and The Lord of the Rings (all three, plus The Hobbit).
    Happy reading from The Review!
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