How to Survive the Holidays: A Reader's Guide

Olivia O’Neil ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
It is the holiday season again; the time of year when you are forced through social convention and guilt to spend time with your family. Some of us might be excited at first to spend some time with our loved ones, and some of us might be dreading it, but at one point or another we will all need a little bit of saving from the constant barrage of questions. The important thing to remember this year is books; they will save your life or at least save you from screaming and crying at your family (possibly).
Before we go any further it is important to first remind you that there is no shame in your choice of book. Whether you want to read Matt Fraction’s new comic Sex Criminals, or brush up on your knowledge about WWII, the only thing that matters is that you are reading for fun. You just survived a semester, and battled your way through finals, you deserve treat.

1. Escapism

If after a long semester you just want a little break from constantly worrying about all the stress inducing elements of your life, then you should find you self a good story to get lost in. Not to sound too cliché, but books can take you on any adventure you want, they can make you anyone you want to be. Pick your favorite adventure, battling Nazi-Zombies, or shopping on 5th Ave with a black AmEx, you will be able to find your perfect escape.

The Benefits

You will be able to block out whatever is going on around you. Who cares if your aunt is over-sharing about her new boyfriend, or your younger cousins just snuck off with a bottle of wine? Not you. You are too busy enjoying that great book you picked out.
Guilty pleasure fiction can be fun, but if you have a nosey family or over-bearing parents you might catch a little flack for rereading Harry Potter for the millionth time. Is that why they are paying that expensive tuition, for you to reread the same books? This could very easily lead to a fight, and that is not surviving the holidays, that is starting a war. That is the last thing your recovering brain needs. Do yourself a favor and invest in an e-reader. Tell them you are reading about the impact of boarding school on western youth. Get creative, and have fun with making your cover story, but at the same time try to bring the conversation to a close because after all you have some very important reading to get done.
Recommendations: Anna and the French Kiss, CinderHarry Potter and Afterworlds.

2. Learning Something

Maybe for you brushing up on your WWII knowledge is fun. All semester long you have been forced to read a bunch of books without having time to fully enjoy any of them, or you did not have time to learn what you really wanted. Well now is your time to indulge yourself and refresh your knowledge of US/North Korean relations, after all it might come in handy. Whatever it is that interest you go for it, and remember that this is your time to pic the topics and set the pace you don’t have to answer to anyone else.

The Benefits

Everyone will think you are extremely smart, although how they missed it before is bit unbelievable. Your family will joke about how you are such a nerd while secretly feeling inadequate for not understanding the importance of unions in America. They will be intimidated and probably wont bug you because they wont want to interrupt your studies, or risk being pulled into an intellectual argument about whatever it is you are reading.
This is a dangerous ground. At worse you pick a book with a clear bias that offends one of your family members and they will feel the need to debate with you. Sometimes this can be fun, but usually it just leads to senseless emotivism and then you are just fighting with your drunken uncle about the former President Reagan. At best you are trying to learn new things and focus on complex ideas in a room full of loud people with very little respect for personal space. One moment you are trying to understand the metaphorical resonance of Piraeus in The Republic of Plate, the next your sister is sitting on you telling you to put down the book and visit with people.
Here are some final thoughts for your holiday reading.
You will be using this book to defend against all the questions like “Why are you still single?” and “What are your plans for the future?” so choose wisely.  Try to avoid anything that can be a conversation starter, and if you are dragged into a conversation try and make a game out of it. How often and you reference the book you are trying to read without someone notice. The most important thing for you to remember is that this is your break. You have worked hard over the past few months, daydreaming about a time when you were not stressing about that 10 page paper that is due in a week. Good luck on your quest to survive time with your family, and remember if it gets really bad you can always just hide in a closet.

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