Let’s face it: midterms are pretty horrible and come out of nowhere like a badly written side-character. I am what many Internet bibliophiles refer to as a mood reader, so when I have three exams on a Thursday and my car won’t start, I’ll find it difficult to enjoy Raskolnikov’s downfall in Crime & Punishment. Sometimes you just need an easy plot or some sage wisdom from a celebrity during hard times, so look to the following books over the coming weeks for encouragement.
You’re still hopeful at this point and are following your studying schedule pretty closely. Therefore, it’s time to pick up Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – yes, the woman who wrote Eat Pray Love and made us all want to travel as teenagers. Gilbert will inspire you to go out and achieve your creative goals (right after midterms), no matter what they are. When you have two long weeks of studying ahead of you, this is the kind of forward-thinking “magic” that you’re going to need.
Do you know who else is resilient and productive during hard times? That’s right, the March sisters. Once upon a time, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott made us kids feel horrible about beating up our siblings. During midterm season, these girls remind us that if they can overcome poverty and illness during Civil War times, then we definitely can handle midterms.
You just realized that you have one less paper to write this week than you thought… hooray! It wouldn’t be a classic midterm season without a little procrastination. However, I would encourage you to be productive and pick up The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Condo. Not only is this book super small and portable, the tips she gives her readers on organization actually work.
You probably need a laugh or two in your life before that first exam. Rob Gordon’s character in High Fidelity will have you rolling on the floor with his self-deprecating humor. His obsession with reorganizing his record collection will hit a chord after yesterday’s cleaning day, and you’ll leave this book with a sparked interest in the cult that is Nick Hornby. You’re welcome.
Finally: you’re half way there. Take solace in the fact that all things end, even the world. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett is one of those situations where you can read about the actual devil and somehow find yourself laughing in the face of certain doom. Watch out, Calculus exam.
Sometimes it’s just really comforting to know that celebrities don’t have their lives together as much as they appear to. In her self-named book, Grace & Style: The Art of Pretending You Have It, YouTube personality Grace Helbig shows us how to avoid impulse Amazon buys triggered by exam stress with a helpful flowchart. Believe me, you’re going to need this.
No midterm week would be complete without at least one complete nervous breakdown. At this point, you’re just looking for someone who understands and who better than the tragic Bridget Jones from Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding? She teaches us that frantic dancing and list writing is always the answer to life’s little (or massive) roadblocks.
What better way to celebrate the nonsensical time crunch and unnecessary pressure we put ourselves though than reading a book which celebrates the crazy world we live in? Welcome to Nightvale by Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink is one such book that exists out of time and space where cats levitate and angels live in the backyard.
I get it. Your eyes are done reading words for a little while. That’s why audiobooks exist, my friend. Tune in to George Saunders’s Lincoln in the Bardo, a fairly recent release which purports over 166 voice actors, including Nick Offerman and David Sedaris. Plus, who doesn’t like a good ghost story about Abraham Lincoln’s son?
You did it. Midterms are finally over, and no one writes endings better than Jane Austen. There is nothing more comforting after a difficult exam than reading Pride and Prejudice and seeing one of the most quintessential literary couples come together despite myriad setbacks (just like you and your diploma).