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Students revisit childhood novels to cope with troubling times


With many UNC students being sent home due to COVID, some have been revisiting their favorite childhood books, including The Maze Runner, the Percy Jackson series, and the Harry Potter series.

As students face boredom while quarantining — sometimes in their own childhood bedrooms — many are revisiting the novels they loved growing up. 

From Hogwarts to District 13, here are the books bringing students back to their younger years: 

Standout series 

First-year biology and psychology major Samara Galo’s favorite series from the past is "Percy Jackson and the Olympians." She said quarantine has given her the drive to start reading again.

"('Percy Jackson') is on my list of books to read, so I’m definitely looking forward to reading them, especially since the third spinoff series is officially done," Galo said. "It'd be interesting to start from the beginning and then get read to the new ones.”

Books like the "Percy Jackson" series, "Harry Potter," "The Hunger Games" and "The Mortal Instruments" are standout series among many students. Although these novels give readers a fun way to pass the time, they are directed at younger reading levels and may not be the first choice for college students.

Sophomore psychology major Katherine Swaringen reread "The Mortal Instruments" series eight times when she was younger. Today, Swaringen still reads as much as she can.

“My desire to read is through the roof,” Swaringen said. “I am so bored during quarantine, I read all the time. I read on my iPad Mini and I keep getting notifications saying, ‘You've reached your record of how much you've read in a day.’”

Sophomore Megan Wagner said she had difficulty sitting down and reading, but found joy in knowing the outcome of books she once read. 

”It’s nice if you can reread things because we’re living in a time where we don’t know what the outcome is going to be," Wagner said. "When you revisit things, you know what’s going to happen and so you can enjoy it without that stress."

Lessons from faraway lands 

Meanwhile, first-year Ronik Grewal’s book of choice was "Steelheart," a science-fiction book he first read in eighth grade. He said it taught him that everyone has gifts and talents that make them unique.

“I read it again a month or two ago,” Grewal said. “I saw a deeper meaning to the book that I didn't see when I was younger. When I was young, I just thought it was about them saving humanity, but there are some underlying themes that are moral lessons.”

First-year media and journalism major Grace Cleveland said it has been about a year since she read "The Hunger Games," her favorite series. But the current social climate has made her want to read it again.

“I feel like we've been living through one of those less high-quality dystopias," Cleveland said. "It feels like we're in a bad novel, and it's finally over.”

Cleveland's favorite books have also helped her through turbulent times.

“They've kept me hopeful through all of this,” Cleveland said. “These heroes and heroines face such adversity and they overcome it. And I figure if they can do it, then the least I can do is get through this.”

Imagining being a demigod, wizard or adventurer may be an escape from reality, but even the nostalgia of a familiar book can help students get through a tough time.

“I really appreciate books,” Swaringen said. “You don't really have to live completely in the moment all the time, you can escape with it, and considering everything that's going on, I think everyone needs a break.”


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