This is the latest installment of a new HCK series in which the HCK writers recommend books for our audience!
Like many Kenyon students, I absolutely love to read. I read a lot. So, naturally, I wanted to hop on the book recommendation bandwagon after reading Jenna’s suggestions. Creating this list proved to be much more difficult than I thought it would be. There are so many great books out there—how can I possibly narrow down the list? I have, however, persevered and managed to pick out some of my favorite books that you might not have heard of to recommend to you!
1. Across the Universe by Beth Revis
With a Beatle’s song as the title of this book, you know it’s going to be a good read. It is about Amy, a girl who joins her parents as frozen cargo on a spaceship, expecting to wake up on a distant planet 300 years in the future. However, something goes wrong—she’s woken up 50 years too early, and Amy soon realizes that it was no accident. This sci-fi novel cleverly evades many of its genre’s clichés, which makes it interesting and entertaining to read.
If you like this, you’ll also like Minder by Kate Kaynak.
2. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
One night, Jacob, a penniless orphan, jumps on a freight train. At this time, he has no idea how much this action will change the trajectory of his entire life. When he wakes up the next morning, he discovers that he had boarded a circus train and is assigned to care for the circus’s elephant, Rosie. The bond between Jacob and Rosie is unlike any other. Rosie, however, is not the only object of Jacob’s affection: he also has his eye on his boss’s beautiful wife. This novel tells a heart-wrenching story of family, loss, abuse, and love that will truly make you feel all the feels.
If you like this, you’ll also like The Help by Kathryn Stockett!
3. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
This novel is all about girl power. Frankie refuses to take “no” for an answer, especially when it comes from her boyfriend, who is excluding her from a secretive all-male society. Instead of sitting around feeling sorry for herself, she decides to do something about it. She knows that she is way smarter than any of the guys she has met, and is set on revenge. Let the pranks begin.
If you like this, you’ll also like Airhead by Meg Cabot!
4. Deadline by Chris Crutcher
Warning: Chris Crutcher knows how to tug on your heartstrings. When Ben finds out during his senior year of high school that he only has one year left to live, he resolves to keep it a secret. He doesn’t want to be treated differently, and he certainly doesn’t want to die a sad and sick in a hospital. He wants to live. So, Ben sets out on a journey of love and self-discovery, as he strives to make his mark on the world before time is out. This incredibly moving story will, without a doubt, remind you how important it is to make use of the time you’re given.
If you like this, you’ll also like The Battle of Jericho by Sharon M. Draper
5. Zombies vs. Unicorns, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier
This collection of short stories by some amazing YA authors (including Cassandra Clare, Scott Westerfeld, Libba Bray, John Green, and Maureen Johnson) strives to answer the ultimate question: Are zombies or unicorns better? Authors picked a side and each wrote a story showing off the strengths of their favorite mythical creature. I began reading this thinking that I was clearly on Team Unicorn, but all of the stories are so well written that even I have to admit that Team Zombie is pretty tempting. Which side will you pick?
If you like this, you’ll also like Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci!
6. Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
A meteor has knocked the moon closer to the Earth, causing massive tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. In an instant, everything has changed. Miranda’s family struggles to survive on a very limited supply of food and water with absolutely no idea of how the world is going to recover. How do you live in a world with no hope? This book, told as a series of Miranda’s diary entries, will keep you turning page after page late into the night. My only suggestion is to sit in a place where you don’t have a clear view of the moon. It’ll freak you out after a while.
If you like this, you’ll also like Gone by Michael Grant.
7. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
Magic, mystery, romance—this novel has it all. After Gemma foresees her mother’s death, she moves to England to attend Spence, a Victorian boarding school. It doesn’t take long for Gemma to see that her new school is filled with secrets—secrets that might connect to her past. When she makes friends who enable her to explore her powers, she might be playing with something much more powerful and sinister than she can handle. Libby Bray successfully avoids clichés of both the fantasy and gothic genres to create a suspenseful story that demands attention.
If you like this, you’ll also like The Luxe by Anna Godberson.
8. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
One of Jane Austen’s lesser-read works, Northanger Abbey is a wonderfully satirical bildungsroman (or, coming of age story), centered on Catherine, a young country girl. Catherine is growing up in a world obsessed with romance, so when she meets Mr. Tilney she allows herself to get swept off her feet. He invites her to visit his family estate, and it is there that Catherine convinces herself that she has stepped into one of the Gothic thrillers that she so often reads. Is she right—is the Abbey full of dark secrets—or does she have an overactive imagination? Ultimately, this novel explores the danger of confusing fiction with reality.
If you like this, you’ll also like Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.
9. The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti
Jade suffers from a panic disorder that causes her to obsessively worry about her death. She knows that it’s not rational or healthy, but there isn’t much she can do to make the thoughts stop. One thing that does calm her is watching the elephants at the nearby zoo, so she keeps the live zoo webcam on in her room. That’s when she first sees the boy in the red jacket—a boy carrying a baby who stops to watch the elephants. When Jade meets this boy, she can’t help but to fall in love with him. This is not your typical chick lit romance novel: the characters are very real and the book is ultimately much more than solely the love story that it tells.
If you like this, you’ll also like Just Listen by Sarah Dessen.
10. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
I suggest keeping a box of tissues nearby while reading this one. Audrey Niffenegger wrote a romance novel that will give Nicholas Sparks a run for his money. She tells the story of Clare and Henry, two people destined to be together. The twist is that Henry is a time traveller, and he can’t control when he travels or in what year he will end up. How can two people separated in such a way live a happy and fulfilling life together? Just as Henry lives his life out of order, the story is not told chronologically, which makes for an exciting reading experience.
If you like this, you’ll also like Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates.
So there you go, there are 10 books that I think everyone should read. (Ok yes, I disguised a list of 20 as a list of 10…who can blame me?) Do you guys have any books you want to recommend to us at HCK?