The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
I have always been known as “the book girl” to anyone who has ever met me. According to my Goodreads account—a website in which users can catalog every book they’ve ever read and keep track of those they want to read—I have read over 1,000 books in my lifetime. Goodreads has an annual reading challenge, during which they encourage readers to set a goal for how many books they want to read that year. This year, my goal was 50, and thus far I’ve read 63; out of those 63, here are 10 of my favorites.
Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong
The second book in Chloe Gong’s duology, Our Violent Ends is the follow-up to These Violent Delights. If these titles sound vaguely familiar, it’s probably because you read their namesake in high school English—Gong puts her own spin on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with its 1920s Shanghai setting and fantasy elements. Here, Juliet Capulet is Juliette Cai, heiress to the Scarlet Gang and Shanghai native, while Romeo Montague is Roma Montagov, the Russian heir to the opposing White Flowers. I can’t say much about Our Violent Ends unless you’ve read the first book (which I highly implore everyone to do!), but let it be known that it’s just as brilliant as the first one. If you like retellings of the classics, mystery and monsters and historical fiction, you’ll love this duology.
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
Admittedly, I initially read this for a class, but I’m glad I actually read it instead of looking up the summary. As the first sci-fi book written by a Black woman, Kindred follows a 26-year-old Black woman named Dana, who is one day suddenly flung back in time to the antebellum South. Dana inexplicably flips between past and present until she figures out why she’s been sent back in time, and what her mission there is. It contains a lot of triggering content (sexual assault, racism and more) and is one of the more gut-wrenching books I’ve ever had to read.
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
There’s nothing better than a good murder mystery, especially when a cold case is reopened after an amateur sleuth discovers damning evidence five years after the case was “solved.” No one can replace Nancy Drew, but Pippa Fitz-Amobi certainly holds her own against the O.G. teen detective. Pip chooses to analyze the murder of Andie Bell for her senior project and quickly discovers all was not what it seemed when the case wrapped up neatly and nicely five years prior. This book is delightfully creepy and contains so many twists and turns that you truly never know what’s coming next.
Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Meyer is known for her fairytale retellings, with her bestselling Lunar Chronicles series following Cinderella, Rapunzel, Red Riding Hood and Snow White in a high-tech, futuristic world. Heartless is not sci-fi, but it is a retelling of sorts, this time with Alice in Wonderland as its inspiration. Calling it a prequel is perhaps more befitting, seeing as it doesn’t focus on Alice but rather the Queen of Hearts (named Cath here) and how she came to be so… well, heartless. Who doesn’t love a good villain origin story?
Robin by Dave Itzkoff
Itzkoff writes a compelling biography detailing the late Robin Williams’ life. It’s lengthy, sitting at over 500 pages, so it’s better read in bursts. This isn’t necessarily an easy read either; Robin didn’t live the happiest of lives, battling drug addiction, alcoholism and depression. I love Robin Williams, though, so it was worth the read on my end. I’d recommend this especially you’re interested in celebrity biographies or the gritty behind-the-scenes of Hollywood.
Lovely War by Julie Berry
Another way for you to get your historical fiction fix, Lovely War centers on four characters and their journeys—which eventually intersect with one another—throughout several years in their lives during World War I. Hazel is a British pianist, meeting James at a party and falling immediately in love days before he is shipped off as a soldier. Aubrey is a member of the 15th New York Infantry, an all-Black regiment sent off to Europe; he ends up meeting Colette, a Belgian girl who’s employed as entertainment for the soldiers. Berry’s prose is beautiful. She incorporates not only stories of human perseverance and young love, but platonic friendships between girls and boys, which I often don’t see in Young Adult books (or any books, for that matter).
Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
Daunis Fontaine is an unenrolled member of the Ojibwe tribe and a star hockey player. Boulley fictionalizes her own life in writing on her uncle’s drug overdose and the investigation into the exploitation of drugs on reservations, and how particularly damaging addiction is among Native peoples. Daunis witnesses a murder on the reservation, catapulting her directly into a dangerous investigation alongside new boy Jamie as they attempt to expose the injustices that constrain indigenous communities.
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
This is another book best read when accompanied by Bardugo’s other books, namely the Six of Crows duology and the Shadow & Bone trilogy. I mostly put this one on here to plug her other books, since they’re some of my all-time favorites (there’s also a Netflix show based on this entire universe that just came out in April!). If you are familiar with the Grishaverse already, though, King of Scars follows Nikolai and Zoya from Shadow and Bone.
Lore by Alexandra Bracken
You either grew up as a Harry Potter kid, a Percy Jackson kid—or, like me, both. Lore is about the Greek gods and goddesses and how, every seven years, they are stripped of their powers and forced to walk the Earth for a period as mortals. During this time, anyone can kill a god or goddess to claim the respective powers for their own. Alexandra Bracken is a phenomenal writer, but a fair warning as there’s a heavy amount of violence in this standalone novel.
Fable by Adrienne Young
This book is perfect for fans of Pirates of the Caribbean and other such tales of pirates and adventures out on the open ocean. The main character, Fable, is the daughter of the most feared and wealthiest merchant in their corner of the world. Her father cast her aside and abandoned her on a desert island after her mother died; Fable must survive and enlists the help of another young merchant to get her off the island. Little does she know, though, that her father has forever been puppeteering her every move.