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

If nothing else, quarantine has helped me rediscover my love of reading. My WiFi connection at home is terrible, to say the least, so the time I would normally spend streaming turned into reading time in the evenings. I’ve finished over 50 books since quarantine began and here are a few of my favorite five-star reads (in no particular order):

1. “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory” by Caitlin Doughty

This is a mix of a memoir about Caitlin Doughty’s experience working in the death/funeral industry as a crematory operator along with other facts and information about how death is treated in the United States. I found this book to be incredibly interesting and informative with still being not too heavy of a read. Doughty does a great job of mixing in a bit of humor to her stories and I appreciated how open she was about how her thoughts and feelings around death have changed in the years since she started working in a crematory. If you’re looking for an informative but fun read, I highly recommend this one!

2. “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett

This historical fiction novel follows two twin sisters from a small town who are inseparable as children but go on to live very different lives as they get older, one as a black woman back in her hometown and one as a white-passing woman, married to a white man who doesn’t know anything about her past. The two lose contact but find their lives intertwined yet again. This is definitely in my top 3 books of the year and I’ve been recommending it to everyone I know! 

3.  “Park Avenue Summer” by Renée Rosen

This book is basically just a story of my dream life. This is historical fiction but includes some real people and events. Alice Weiss leaves her small town to leave for the big city and live out her dreams. She finds herself working as an assistant for Helen Gurley Brown, the real-life controversial Editor in Chief who turned Cosmopolitan into what it is today. If you’re interested in magazine writing, 1960’s NYC or the life of Helen Gurley Brown, this is the book for you.

4. “Get a Life, Chloe Brown” and “Take a Hint, Dani Brown” by Talia Hibbert

Okay so technically this is two books but it’s a series so I’m including them together. I’m personally a huge fan of romance and rom-com novels but those genres can often lack diversity so I’m SO glad I’ve discovered Talia Hibbert. Get a Life, Chloe Brown follows a self-employed black woman with chronic pain who makes a list to help her “get a life” after a near-death experience. She realizes she needs some help with her list and enlists Red, her building’s superintendent to help which leads to some ~*steamy romance*~ between the two. Take a Hint, Dani Brown follows Chloe’s younger sister, Dani who is a bisexual grad student teaching an English class at a university. When a fire drill goes wrong, she’s carried out to safety by the university building’s security guard and goes viral, leading to a fake dating scenario that might just lead to ~*love*~. I love both of these books so much and I’m so excited for the final book to come out next year!

5. “Big Summer” by Jennifer Weiner

This book was not at all what I expected but I absolutely loved it! I feel like this is one of those books that it’s best to go in blind on so I don’t want to say too much. If you like plus-size representation, mystery and the complexities of friendship, give this one a try!

6. “The Girl with the Louding Voice” by Abi Daré

Adunni is a young girl living in Nigeria who wants nothing more than to continue her education, just like her deceased mother always wanted for her. However, when her family faces financial trouble, her father makes the decision to marry her off to a rich older man so he can collect her bride price. Tragedy strikes at Adduni’s new home and she has to make some difficult decisions on what to do. This is an incredible novel, especially considering it is a debut. It’s all told from Adduni’s POV in her own voice and way of speaking, which allows us to see her growth and change throughout the novel. 

7. “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This was one of my most recent reads and WOW, it’s just as good as everyone had told me it would be. Evelyn Hugo is a movie icon from the 1950s and onward but has become reclusive in her old age and not given an interview in years but is finally ready to reveal all of the details of her life (and her seven husbands). She chooses unknown writer Monique Grant for the job, which no one, not even Monique can understand. However, the more Monique learns about Evelyn, the more connected she realizes they are. 

8. “Clap When You Land by Elizabeth” Acevedo

I’m super picky when it comes to YA books but I’ve fallen in love with Elizabeth Acevedo this year! “Clap When You Land” was the first book I’ve read by this author and it’s a must-read. This book is written in verse, which can be a bit intimidating at first, but is absolutely worth reading and completely transports you. This book follows two half-sisters who are unaware of the other’s existence until a tragic accident leads to their father passing away and they find their way to one another. This book depicts love and loss in such an incredible way. Also, if you’re an audiobook fan, Acevedo narrates all of her own books! 

9. “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott

I had somehow gone 21 years of my life without ever reading this book or seeing any of the film adaptations but I absolutely loved it! I’m pretty sure most people already know what this book is about so I’ll skip the synopsis and just tell you to pick this one up if you haven’t already!

10. “One to Watch” by Kate Stayman-London

We love plus-size representation in this house! This novel surrounds the fictional show Main Squeeze, which is essentially the Bachelor or the Bachelorette. I’m personally not a fan of the Bachelor (I’ve seen exactly one episode and was VERY confused). One of my issues with the show was the lack of diversity (in body types, in race, etc.) so a book that followed a plus-size ~*main squeeze*~ grabbed my interest. I ended up really enjoying this and hope that actual dating shows can use this as an example and add some diversity. 

Have you read any of these books? If not, add them to your TBR list!

Amanda Snead

George Mason University '21

Amanda is a senior at George Mason where she is majoring in Communication with a concentration in journalism and minoring in women and gender studies. She currently serves as Her Campus George Mason's president and Campus Correspondent. She has previously served as the Editor in Cheif and Senior Editor. Additionally, she worked as a Branded Content Intern for Her Campus nationally as well as a Chapter Advisor. She spends her free time writing articles, perfecting her Animal Crossing island and hanging out with her pets.
George Mason Contributor (GMU)

George Mason University '50

Want to get involved, or have a story idea we should write about? Email us! hc.georgemason@hercampus.com