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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

Usually, I’m more of a mood reader, someone who really just reads what they want and doesn’t set specific goals. This felt right to me, especially since I am a student who doesn’t have all the free time in the world to read hundreds of books per year just for fun. But then, something shifted. 

I decided to actually set a few specific (but still easy to accomplish) reading goals for myself. 

It was actually at the beginning of 2024 that I set these goals for myself. One of them was to finish all of the books on my “want to read” shelf on GoodReads—after all, I only had about 10 books left that I didn’t get to in 2023. Another goal was to read more books from East Asian authors, as I realized there was somewhat of a lack of diversity in a majority of the books I’ve read recently. There were a few others, but these all actually led me to discover a few new favorites that I wasn’t expecting. 

  1. Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory by Raphael Bob-Waksberg

This is actually the most recent book I have read as of writing this article. I read it a few days ago, but it’s still on my mind. It’s a collection of humorous, dark short stories that revolve around love—especially the gory parts of it. Using surrealism and sardonic humor to discuss the rawness of loving someone was the perfect way to describe the less talked about, more ugly part of love. 

I immediately knew that this book was going to be a winner in my eyes because it’s written by none other than Raphael Bob-Waksberger—the creator of BoJack Horseman, a popular, award-winning (and famously award-losing) Netflix Original series. This novel carries the same dark humor that I adored in BoJack Horseman, and this time, it was entirely about love. The pain, the sacrifice, the realization that it could have, should have, and might still be worth it to simply try.

  1. Night Sky With Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong 

In the past, I have enjoyed one of Vuong’s previous works, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. Similarly to how I felt about the first book on my list, I knew that this would be a book that I’d enjoy before I even started it. I love the lyricism and raw emotion in Vuong’s writing style, and the themes and events that he chooses to write about are always close to my heart and manage to bring out my emotional side. 

Usually, I personally do not enjoy reading poetry. However, something is different in Vuong’s works. There’s something truly magical about an author who has the ability to bring someone to tears, being able to paint a picture in someone’s mind that is so vivid and real that it results in a physical response. 

  1. The Martian by Andy Weir

I don’t tend to go for science fiction novels, and even less of the time, I reach for a book about space. However, I recently watched the film adaptation of The Martian, and I was surprised to find out how much I actually liked it. The book proved to be just as entertaining, and I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it. Additionally, I learned a lot about space and being an astronaut. Perhaps to someone better versed in all things space, they were basic facts, but since I usually don’t read much on these topics, it was all new and interesting to me!

  1. Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors

A majority of the popular romance books these days that include a toxic relationship often romanticize it or portray it in a harmful manner. I really dislike that for a multitude of reasons, the main one being the fact that it exposes tween and teen audiences to a harmful, fractured example of a relationship and implies that it’s something desirable. This book, though it discusses a very toxic relationship, never romanticizes it or tells the audience that it’s something to imitate. 

Other than that, the writing and prose are beautiful, and the dialogue is so auditorily descriptive. I also really liked the sequence of events, and the ending was perfectly bittersweet. Another characteristic of many romance novels that I dislike is a forced happy ending, and the fact that this one was much more realistic was satisfying. It also really solidified the defiance against romanticizing toxic age-gap relationships, showing that the conflicts throughout the novel come about for a good damn reason. 

  1. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis 

This book gave me a feeling similar to the one I got when I read Lolita—one of fear that people like this really exist. I have an insane amount of respect for authors who are able to write such dark stories that give the average population a glimpse into the twisted mind of someone like Patrick Bateman or Humbert Humbert. 

Novels such as these are truly a one-time read for me. Though it’s indubitably a well-written book, this only adds to the disturbing content. In the end, I would recommend both American Psycho and Lolita, but with caution and discretion. 

  1. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata 

Never have I ever felt so close to a character that we hardly know about. Perhaps that’s the irony of it, since the main character is estranged from her family and friends, only maintaining connections through deep social analysis and copying mannerisms. Additionally, since the novel was originally written and published in Japanese, the translation feels stilted at times, especially when it comes to describing more emotional events. The slightly awkward translation would be my only real critique about this book, however, as I wholly enjoyed nearly everything else about it. 

  1. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

To preface, I used to be a Hemingway hater. Previously, I had attempted to read The Old Man and the Sea and The Sun Also Rises, both of which fell short in my opinion. They were just boring to me, and I couldn’t bring myself to care enough about the plot when the prose was so dull. It was only with the encouragement of one of my friends (who is a proud Hemingway defender) that I gave him another chance. Apparently, three times is indeed the charm. 

Not only was the prose (somehow) not as boring to me, but I actually enjoyed the way things were described and worded. I liked the dialogue a lot, and the story itself was well-sequenced and realistic. Again, as I mentioned with Cleopatra and Frankenstein, I adore realistic, bittersweet endings and prefer them over forced happy endings. 

Plus, there’s a movie adaptation in the works, starring Tom Blyth—whom you may know as the gorgeous Coriolanus Snow in the recent film adaptation of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

  1. Groupies by Sarah Priscus 

This was actually recommended by a fellow HCCU member (actually, our very own president!), and it did not disappoint. It is described as the perfect book for enjoyers of Daisy Jones & The Six, an extremely popular book that takes place around the same time frame as Groupies, and I would have to agree. 

The imagery and descriptive language in this book was actually incredible. I felt like I was there with the main characters, at all of the parties and concerts. The sequence of events always kept me on my toes, and I was surprised by the ending, even though I thought I could figure out what would happen next. 

  1. The Woman in Me by Britney Spears 

One of my goals for 2024 was to read more memoirs and autobiographies, and I absolutely had to read Britney Spears’ book as soon as I heard it was coming out. Though I am a bit young to have grown up with Spears’ music, I still know of her and her importance and prominence in the pop music industry, Y2K fashion trends (plus its recent revival), and even the acting scene. Who knew that Spears was originally up for the role of Allie in The Notebook instead of the iconic Rachel McAdams? 

However, this book also delved into the deep trauma that was inflicted upon her throughout her life, and it was extremely sobering and raw. I admire her so deeply for her honesty, her beauty, and her grace. It takes a lot to be able to speak about those who have wronged you and even more to mention them with a smile.

  1. Divergent by Veronica Roth

The last book on my list is kind of a joke—but also, it isn’t at all. Divergent is infamous for being the “worst” dystopian series of the 2010s, when compared to other series that were released around the same time, such as The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner series. It’s kind of corny, kind of awkward, kind of badly structured… but it’s also amazing. Plus, who can resist Theo James? 

I never expected to like this book at all, but I was pleasantly surprised. Though it’s not my highest rating of the year, I still wanted to add it because of how much it surpassed my expectations. It’s also a good reminder that it’s okay to read books that are a little embarrassing to admit to liking, which is something that I often think about. 

Phoebe Ham

CU Boulder '26

Phoebe Ham is a current contributing writer and editor on the executive team at Her Campus CU Boulder (HCCU). Though she writes about a variety of topics, she enjoys writing about speech-language pathology, linguistics, skincare, and pop culture. Outside of Her Campus, Phoebe is mainly focused on her studies, though she hopes to expand her writing career further in the near future. She is a current third-year undergraduate at CU, and she is majoring in SLHS (Speech, Language, and Hearing Science) and minoring in both Linguistics and Education. Prior to her college career, she won an award for an original short story, and that was where she discovered her love of writing and posting her creations online. For several years, she ran a blog dedicated to her writing, which ranged from poetry and book reviews to short stories and novellas. In her free time Phoebe enjoys reading Asian-American literature, crocheting, and spending time with her friends. Recently, she has been into novels by Haruki Murakami, Min Jin Lee, and Ling Ma. Additionally, she has been trying to incorporate more of her crocheted creations into her wardrobe for sustainability reasons, as well as vocalizing the importance of Asian representation in media through her art.