If I haven’t made it clear before now, I love reading. It’s by far my favorite pastime and I am once again using my Her Campus page to give unsolicited book advice. So, without further adieu, here are nine of the best books I’ve read this year (so far).
Also, here is a link to my StoryGraph if anyone wants to see my reading stats in more detail.
- If We Were VillAins by M.L. RIo
Recommended to me by my friend Lilli, If We Were Villains is the most recent book I read and is a clear favorite. This book tells the story of seven friends and their time at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, where they study and perform various Shakespeare works. The story is told over two timelines: the current period, where our main character Oliver has just gotten out of ten years in prison, and a past timeline telling the story of Oliver at Dellecher.
After I finished this novel, I had a stomachache. It had the most raw and intense emotion of any story I have read in a really long time. This novel is complex, heartbreaking and addicting. I highly recommend it for everyone looking for a dark read.
- Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman
Be warned: this is the second book in a trilogy. Thunderhead is the sequel to Neal Shusterman’s young adult sci-fi novel Scythe. This trilogy follows two main characters, Citra and Rowan, in a world where humans have conquered death. They live in a perfect utopia with no war, no disease, no famine, etc. In order to keep the population under control, Scythes exist. Scythes take people’s lives at random, to keep the world from becoming overcrowded. “Gleaning,” as they call it, is the price humanity must pay in return for immortality.
As of right now, this is my favorite sci-fi series to date. Thunderhead, the second book, is my favorite in the trilogy merely because of how hard it was for me to put it down. This whole trilogy is very fast paced and will keep you hooked through the entire storyline. I can’t rave about this series enough, and I believe it is the best of Shusterman’s work.
- One Last Stop BY Casey McQuiston
Taking on a lighter note, One Last Stop is an LGBTQ+ romance written by young author Casey McQuinston. You may recognize her name as the author of Red, White, and Royal Blue, which I talked about in my article about my favorite audiobooks. One Last Stop follows the story of a girl named August, who recently moved to New York City looking for a fresh start. We follow our main character as she falls into her daily routine while focusing on one specific part of it. On the subway, she meets Jane, who she quickly falls for. We watch Jane and August’s relationship progress as we also realize that Jane is misplaced in time. She is actually from the 1970s, forever stuck in a loop on the New York City subway.
Not only was the romance in this story utterly entrancing, but the plot was also unreal. I loved watching Jane and August navigate this weird science fiction aspect of their reality. It added such an amazing twist to an already fun novel. Please take note that I was sobbing by the time I finished this book.
- All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
I can’t possibly consider this a good list without a least one non-fiction book on here. All Boys Aren’t Blue is an emotional memoir written by George M. Johnson about his life growing up as a gay black man. The book is split into essays tackling different events from his childhood that left a lasting impression on his life. This memoir tackles topics such as homophobia, toxic masculinity, racism and the power of family.
Listening to this as an audiobook is definitely the way to go. Johnson himself narrates his own essays and that adds such an emotional quality to the work. This memoir made me laugh, cry and feel pretty much every emotion possible. Obviously, his story does not represent every gay black man’s, but it is an incredible glimpse into intersectionality. Johnson’s writing has such a beautiful quality to it and it was so interesting to hear about different aspects of growing up from a perspective that I hadn’t heard before. I strongly recommend this book to anyone, it is a master in personal essays.
- The Troop by Nick Cutter
If you want to get into the Halloween mood a bit early, look no further than The Troop by Nick Cutter. This science-fiction horror novel follows the annual trip of a boy scout troop to a remote island near their hometown in Prince Edward Island. The camping trip quickly turns foul when a mysterious stranger stumbles on their island, so thin his skin looks like paper.
This book essentially feels like a more terrifying version of Lord of the Flies and is definitely not for the faint of heart. This is actually the first book I’ve ever read that has genuinely scared me. Cutter’s writing is disgustingly descriptive and keeps you hooked even if you want to put the book down. Cutter has definitely changed what level of gore I can tolerate and I can’t wait to read more of his work.
- Good Omens By Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Again recommended to me by my friend Lilli, Good Omens has quickly become my new hyperfixation. The novel follows two main characters: Aziraphale, an angel, and Crowley, a demon. The two must deal with the upcoming apocalypse, which will bring about a war between the angels and the demons. Crowley and Aziraphale are trying to avoid such a war, since they both enjoy spending time on Earth. This is the main plot, but there are many more components to it, so that is quite a simplified version.
I simply adore this book. Gaiman and Pratchett’s writing is charming and witty while they take you through a seemingly dark concept. If you do end up reading this book, I also recommend the TV adaptation, which you can find on Amazon Prime. The show is just as good as the book, if not better (and I don’t say that often).
- Becoming by Michelle Obama
Becoming was the first book I read this year and oh, I am so glad it was. This is the story of Michelle Obama’s upbringing all the way to end of the Obama Administration. Michelle Obama is a naturally gifted writer and this autobiography feels so personal, like she truly wants you to know her story. My main takeaway from this book was that her work ethic is no joke. She worked incredibly hard to be where she is today and I loved reading about how her family supported her the whole way. Reading and learning about her family and community was my favorite part of the book, and it was so interesting to see how her life changed when her family entered the White House. And yes, I swooned over the story of how her and Barack met and fell in love.
- The Shining By Stephen King
What a classic horror novel. I’m sure you all know the story of The Shining but just to recap, this story follows a little boy named Danny who just moved to a hotel with his mother and father. They are living there during the hotel’s off season, shut in by a ferocious winter. As the months pass, the hotel begins to come alive and haunt the Torrance family, pushing each family member to their limits.
This has been my favorite Stephen King novel that I’ve read so far. I ended up caring for Danny so much throughout the book that I was genuinely scared that something bad was going to happen to him. I believe The Shining shows King’s creative mind to a T, and has an exciting level of anticipation running through it. I will say, however, this is very different than the movie and I can totally see why King hates the movie now. The book leads to a much more complex story.
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Being one of the first books I read this year, The Handmaid’s Tale set me up for a great reading year. Atwood’s novel takes place in a dystopia where certain women serve roles as Handmaids: they belong to a couple and are to get pregnant and deliver a healthy child for said couple. This is a pretty dumbed down version of the world Atwood has set up, but that is the main plot. We follow our main character, Offred, as she laments about her new, forced life.
While this book isn’t outright considered a horror novel, it sure feels like one as you read it. The more I thought about this book, the more freaked out I became. I found myself terrified at the thought of being in Offred’s position which made me care for her a lot more. I did find the backstory as to how their world go to be in this position a bit more interesting than the current time, but that was just because the backstory made the novel even richer.
I hope you guy’s enjoyed my list and it inspires you to pick up a book or two of this list.