You read the headline of this article and you immediately dismiss it.

A review of recent book releases, you scoff. I’m up to my ass cheeks in political science readers and chemistry labs thicker than the damn phone book – how am I going to find the requisite amount of time, or doses of Adderall, to enjoy a little light reading between binge drinking, video games and every other form of procrastination from my studies? It’s hard enough just to read this article!

Recall the first rule of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Don’t panic. It may be true that few students pick up a novel as a form of leisure in lieu of the various other diversions at UCSB, but try to make time. Pleasure reading serves as a good break from academic reading because it’s a feel-good activity without too great a remove from the studying mentality. Whether you are sick of studying isomers or just about to sit down for some quality time in the bathroom, these three new books should provide more enriching entertainment than that old, yellowed copy of Maxim or Cosmo on your bathroom sink.

Stephen King recently released Duma Key, the story of Edgar Freemantle’s recovery from a mysterious and tragic accident that caused him to drive away his wife and left him missing one arm. King describes it as a partner piece with the very successful Lisey’s Story, which was about the power and love of marriage while Duma Key is about the identity-erasing pain of divorce. Memory and identity play important roles in the initial horror of Freemantle’s tragic story, but some wonder and redemption are sure to be expected as well. Check out the first chapter of what some critics are calling King’s most important work since Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption at

Behavioral health students should take note of guerilla sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh, author of Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets. Frustrated by the lack of data that normal surveys could yield from drug dealers in inner city Chicago, Venkatesh decided to do some in-depth research. He befriended JT, a ruthless crack dealer, and studied the living situation of him and his cohorts in an ethnographic approach through interviews and his own experiences. Needless to say, his research tended to be more hands-on than data entry. At one point, Venkatesh even made the rounds an official gang lieutenant would make. Gang Leader for a Day details a ’90s drug ring passionately and with solid evidence to strip some of the glamorous veneer from one of America’s most famous professions. How is that for a graduate thesis?

Finally, for you religion and history majors out there, check out People of the Book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks. The Sarajevo Haggadah is a book of legend that has survived over 600 years thanks to key individuals throughout history who risked their lives to protect it. The book itself is one of the first Jewish religious volumes, but people from all faiths have carried it forward against the forces that hope to lay it to waste: forgers, opportunists, fanatics. Now, a rare-book collector named Hanna hopes to trace the book’s travels through history to learn its secrets. Action, romance, and belief all abound in this lyrical and highly anticipated historical novel. It will keep your attention far longer than the normal lecture.

These books should provide at least as much satisfaction as a mediocre beer pong game out in the cold this Winter Quarter. No matter your interest, or your level of pretension, Artsweek has got you covered. Take a look, it’s in a book – a reading rainbow!