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I enjoy venturing out of my comfort zone by reading about topics that may be difficult for some to swallow; the taboo can be fascinating.

Over the month-long break between semesters, I read a few of these stories, and I’m still emotionally recovering. It amazes me the way that these authors were able to rip my heart apart with their words and make me cry for pages at a time over people who don’t exist (but sometimes, you need a good cry!) The intense range of emotions I experienced while reading these books remind me of the power books have to transport you to another world and inspire me to explore all feelings, good and bad, in my writing.

Warning: The following books may contain material that some find triggering (murder, violence, drugs, sexual abuse, etc.) Reader discretion is advised. 

  1. The Cellar by Natasha Preston (2014)

Brief Summary: “Spending months inside the cellar of her kidnapper with several other girls, Summer learns of Colin’s abusive past, and his thoughts of his victims being his family…his perfect, pure flowers. But flowers can’t survive long cut off from the sun, and time is running out” (Goodreads).

I know I’m a little late with this one, but better late than never! This book had me hooked from the first page and cured my “reading slump.” It was published first on Wattpad, then in print in 2014. It’s a face-paced, nail-biting thriller that deserves to be read over and over again.

  1. In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware (2015)

Brief Summary: “Nora hasn’t seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back. Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her? But something goes wrong. Very wrong. Some things can’t stay secret forever” (Goodreads).

For me, this one started off slow, but once it picked up, it was amazing! The characters feel three-dimensional and intriguing. There were so many twists in this story; I never knew what to expect as I turned the pages. 

  1. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (1999)

Brief Summary: “In Laurie Halse Anderson’s powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself” (Goodreads).

I felt like I was back in high school while reading this; the heroine’s voice reminds me a lot of my inner monologue. A powerful story with a powerful message. 

  1. My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell (2020)

Brief Summary: “Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer” (Goodreads).

This is the most disturbing book on the list. When I tell you this book crushed me, I mean it CRUSHED me. I couldn’t put it down, even at the most heartbreaking moments that are now burned into my brain. It wasn’t just a story; it was an experience. If you’ve read Lolita, I highly recommend this as a follow-up. 

I hope you will take the time to check out the books I’ve listed, even if they are not in your preferred genre. It’s always good to try new things. Happy reading! 


Camryn Gurecki

Millersville '25

Camryn is in the Class of '25 at Millersville University. She is currently pursuing a degree in English: Writing Studies with a minor in Strategic Public Relations. In her free time, she enjoys reading novels, writing about her experiences, coloring, and listening to music.
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