The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides (2011)

For those who find graduation ominously approaching, those who find themselves in the unreceiving corner of a love triangle, or those who actually just need to find themselves, look no further. The Marriage Plot is a thoughtful, insightful bildungsroman that goes beyond campus. Some readers may take issue with the constant name-dropping of writers, philosophers, and religious figures (Eugenides is never beating the pretentious allegations), but when writing about the young and over-educated, this is exactly on brand. We're talking about 23-year-old Ivy-League graduates—pretentiousness comes with the territory. You are all Cambridge students—lean into it. - Laila Hussey, Arts Editor

Travels with Myself and Another by Martha Gellhorn (1978)

It’s a shame that Gellhorn is best remembered as Ernest Hemingway’s third wife. Her travel memoir proves she’s so much more: a fearless reporter, inventive wordsmith, and dry wit. Above all, Gellhorn is an adventurer in the old-fashioned sense, always ready to drop everything and journey to the world's farthest reaches. Her screwball antics—from hunting submarines in the Caribbean, paddling up the Amazon, evading KGB agents in Moscow, or setting off firecrackers in a Hong Kong hotel room—make for a great escape read. But Gellhorn’s memoir also has real depth: her pluck and humour in the face of hardship, her refusal to bow to authority, and her strident individualism continue to inspire. - Flóra Kiss, Arts Editor

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver (1981)

Seemingly full of the most beautiful love stories, this collection surprised me quite quickly as I found myself entranced by the eerie strangeness of its setting in the U.S. North West. While still very much what it says on the cover, it exposes the elusive ways in which love manifests in human life and the homes and objects which accompany it. Raymond Carver accesses the mundane elements of life and illuminates or horrifies them with sharp turns where we see love stretch to cover murder, but also regulated and organised to maintain itself. My favourite of the stories is 'Gazebo.' Set against the backdrop of an abandoned motel, it follows a tumultuous breakup between a couple caused by an act of infidelity. For those who are a fan of Alice Munro’s work, I highly recommend Carver—and for those who want to explore love without the romanticisation, this is a perfect read. - Saranka Maheswaran, Arts Writer

Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield (2022)

Sometimes you just need to spend a few hours with a really beautiful book that will absolutely make you cry if you let it. Our Wives Under the Sea follows Leah, a woman who spent months trapped in a submarine, and her wife Miri, who is doing everything she can to bring back normality. The slow pace and rambling prose may not be what everyone is looking for, but if you just want to spend some time rotting in bed, ignoring that essay I know you have due, and enjoying some lovely words, Our Wives is for you. - Poppy Miller, Arts Writer

The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St Aubyn (1992-2011)


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‘Patrick shot bolt upright and banged his head on the leg of the chair. ‘Shit, wank, fuck, blast,’ he said in his own voice at last.’ St Aubyn’s novels, written and published over almost twenty years, are as devastatingly funny as they are devastating. Quilting together biting satire, psychoanalytic wrestling, and heroin-rich ‘switchblades of memory’ flashing open throughout the text, St Aubyn traces a fictional account of his own life through the depressive, eponymous hero—Patrick. His relentless, razored critiques in ‘Bad News’ find sharpness within its Quixotic jaunts. The heteroglossic gossip of ‘Some Hope’—fragments of overheard conversation at a dinner party—expose the insipid rituals of an English upper class. Within all this, however, St Aubyn catches moments of plain-spoken poetry—(swans like ‘white gloves on applauding hands’ spring to mind)—as Patrick ages and haunts through life. - Maddie Clark, Arts Writer

Bunny by Mona Awad (2019)

Ever wanted to read what it’s like to take part in a carnal ritual of sacrifice with your supo partners? If so, Bunny by Mona Awad is a must read for you. In her enticing novel, Awad leads her readers down a rabbit hole of academia, following the story of outsider Samantha Heather Mackey as she enrols in her MFA and finds herself in a clique of ‘Bunnies’. At times Awad’s writing can hit VERY close to home, with her portrayal pretentious academic discussions laced with pretence and the all-too-familiar anxiety arts graduates feel upon entering the job market. It’s definitely a book to dive into if you want a story that questions the reality of love, female friendship and an English degree all at once. - Lucy Ansell, Arts Writer