Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

I have always been the reader who skims through books and never finishes them. My lack of patience (even in the most mundane tasks) has made me unappreciative of aspects such as book structure, pacing and character arc. However, in 2022, I took it upon myself to change that. The value that reading has to the people around me inspired me to challenge myself to reach a reading goal. I read over ten books this summer. It may not sound like much to those long-term avid readers, but it has solidified my desire to keep reading. 

Here is a list of my top five reads of the summer:

5. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Stella Lane is a woman who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome whose life has revolved around an econometrics career, paying little attention to anything else. She hires Michael Phan, a Vietnamese and Swedish escort, who accepts her offer to show her how to develop a romantic relationship. As Stella and Michael spend more time together, Stella finds a passion outside of econometrics, while Michael does not feel worthy of her love.

This was a compelling book about the daily hardship that individuals with Asperger’s face. Hoang gives Stella her voice and you feel for her character and journey as she tries to navigate interacting with new people in situations she has never been involved in before. Michael faced much shame in his career as an escort, and he lives with a lot of doubt and uncertainty in his life. It is endearing to follow his journey as he harbors feelings for Stella while also dealing with his family’s dark past. 

4. Funny You Should ASk by Elissa Sussman

Chani Horowitz is commissioned to write a profile convincing the world that Hollywood heartthrob Gabe Parker is the perfect fit to play James Bond. Not wanting to speak about his hardship with alcohol and his childhood, Gabe turns the conversation to Chani, who shares more about her life than she should as a journalist. Rumors of what happened in that three-day interview swirled around after the profile came to light, but neither party commented. Ten years into the future, Chani and Gabe reunite. This time, she will write a story about his sobriety journey. Unresolved feelings and tension resurface as both must deal with the countless tabloids, but only the two of them know the whole truth.

This was not just a romance book but a story about self-doubt in one’s abilities. Chani’s career took off after her profile, and she wonders whether she owes her success to her own doing or to the man she interviewed. Gabe has doubts about his ability to play James Bond. He is publicly seen as a less sophisticated and distinguished man than his best friend, Oliver Matthias (a wonderful secondary character). Funny You Should Ask also includes tabloid excerpts and profile excerpts. The story describes the actual course of events, showing how the excerpts do not tell the whole story. I think this is interesting because it shows how easily stories can be fabricated and manipulated, even going as far as to show how Chani omitted some critical details about what really happened.

3. You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

Naomi Westfield is engaged to the man she despises the most, Nicholas Rose, but it has not always been like this. They were once a happy couple but fell out of love, no longer desiring to be in each other’s presence. She felt he was judging her lack of college education and her lack of a stable career, while he thought she was a snob, someone who prioritized his mother’s outrageous requests. Unfortunately, there is no way out of this engagement because Naomi would be liable for wedding expenses and Nicholas would face his family’s wrath. Therefore, Naomi and Nicholas resort to a long series of pranks and sabotage to one-up each other. The nearing wedding date terrifies Naomi, and she takes deliberate steps to have more say in the wedding planning process (much to Nicholas’s mother’s dismay). Nicholas also begins taking deliberate steps to salvage his relationship with Naomi. What follows is a journey of finding love for one another again to rebuild a failing relationship. 

This was unique in showing the development of a relationship between two people already together. It is the journey of falling out of love to holding extreme hatred for the other person. It shows that both individuals must be willing to work together to fix it. We first see Nicholas’s efforts when he buys a new house, so he and Naomi can start over and make it their own. She becomes highly suspicious and angry that he made this decision without her. As time goes on, she begins to lower her defenses and starts doing things for him as well, such as defending him against his mother and defending him against her friends (who disliked him). She begins to understand why he bought the house, and she makes sure to reassure him that he made the right decision as much as she can. It is beautiful to see how they go from enemies to partners in crime to partners in a loving marriage.

2. One Night On The Island by Josie Silver

Cleo, a dating columnist from London, embarks on a journey to a remote Irish island called Salvation Island. As she nears her 30th birthday, she feels she has not accomplished many of life’s expected milestones. By coming on this journey, she hopes to find clarity in who she is without comparing herself to others. Unfortunately, she is forced to share her rented lodge with an American Bostonian photographer Mack, a thirty-something man with an estranged wife and two children. Cleo and Mack butt heads but decide to find a truce, leading to an inevitable attraction that neither knows how to deal with. Mack still longs for a functional relationship with his wife and children. Cleo is in search of herself on a journey of self-discovery. Their matchup seems impossible. Both must address their hardships before they can commit to a relationship.

This is not a story centered on romance. This is a story about two people who sought Salvation Island to escape the difficulties they are both facing in their lives. Cleo’s self-actualizing journey concludes when she decides to stay on the island permanently. Mack’s trip back to Boston is about trying to fix his family relationship. You get a sense that Cleo and Mack are both seeking separate lives and want different things. Despite how they may feel for one another, their relationship feels temporary and bittersweet. It allowed both to grow, but ultimately, it was never meant to last.

1. Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan

Screenwriter Nora Hamilton writes stories about her old marriage and its fateful end in a masterful and captivating way, getting enough attention to become a movie. Hollywood actor Leo Vance takes on the leading role, and little did Nora expect him to be sitting on her front porch after shooting had wrapped. They strike a deal that he would be allowed to stay in the backyard’s tea house for a week in exchange for the money she needs. Little did she expect Leo to bond with her two children and little did she expect to be captivated by him. Their attraction grows and they open to each other in a way neither of them has before. Unfortunately, it all comes crashing down when he leaves for his next project, never coming back. Nora holds a strong front for her children but crumbles inside, remembering how her marriage ended on similar terms. Her heartbreak is palpable, and as award season nears, she fears reencountering Leo.

With many questions in her mind, Nora is forced to face the man who broke her heart. Nora is one of my favorite main characters of all time. She is strong, resilient and willing to do anything for her children. Nora is an exemplary mother who sacrifices everything to afford her children’s extracurriculars. She portrays motherhood not as a burden but as a part of who she is. The children in this story play a crucial role in telling Nora’s story; they are not just plot devices. The relationship Leo built with her kids was extremely sweet and some of my favorite bits in the story. The element of mystery as to why Nora and Leo’s relationship ended was very well throughout. Seeing Nora obtain recognition for all her hard work brings her story of hardship in her marriage full circle.

Want to see more HCFSU? Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube and Pinterest!

Camila is a Junior studying Political Science and International Affairs with a minor in Economics.