Being a couple weeks into summer, life can start to get boring, and you might already be running out of activities to keep you busy. This is the perfect opportunity to crack open a new book! I am an avid reader, and I have compiled a list of books that I have read that you should, too. I covered multiple genres and have both fiction and non-fiction, so there is sure to be something that interests you (I saved the best for last).
Before I get into the list, I know books can be expensive, that’s why I recommend buying second-hand or going to the library. If you are in COMO you can go to the Daniel Boone library, it is huge and has an amazing selection of books. For second-hand books you can go to a local store like Yellow Dog Books in Columbia, or if you are close to one, Half Price Books is always a great place to go. Buying second-hand and going to a library helps support your community, save you money and reduce waste. It’s a win-win-win!
Without further ado, here are 10 books that I love:
- A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Plot: “Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price…
Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever,” (from goodreads).
Why I recommend: I recommend this book because I finished it in two days, it was that good. It’s interesting to see how loyalties and judgements change as characters learn more about each other and how Sarah J. Maas creates this world that is so similar yet so different from our own. This book is also considered adult fantasy and not young adult because it can be a little spicier.
- Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Genre: YA fantasy/romance
Plot: This is a world divided by blood—red or silver. The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change. That is until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power. Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime. But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance—Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart (from goodreads).
Why I recommend: I recommend this book because it is a great start to a great series about rebellion and trying to fit in and survive. I like this series because it has so many twists and turns and keeps you on your toes. I am currently finishing this series and I am on the fourth book War Storm.
- Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given
Plot: “Women Don’t Owe You Pretty” will tell you to… love sex, hate sexism, protect your goddamn energy, life is short, dump them and that you owe men nothing, least of all pretty.
Florence’s debut book will explore all progressive corners of the feminist conversation; from insecurity projection and refusing to find comfort in other women’s flaws, to deciding whether to date or dump them, all the way through to unpacking the male gaze and how it shapes our identity.
“Women Don’t Owe You Pretty” is an accessible leap into feminism, for people at all stages of their journey who are seeking to reshape and transform the way they view themselves. In a world that tells women we’re either not enough or too much, it’s time we stop directing our anger and insecurities onto ourselves, and start fighting back to re-shape the toxic structures of our patriarchal society.
Florence’s book will help you to tackle and challenge the limiting narrative you have been bombarded with your whole life, and determine feminism on your own terms. After all, you are the love of your own life (from goodreads).
Why I recommend: Put simply, this book will help you realize how you can be a better person for yourself. It is a good read and says many things that all women need to hear. It also has amazing illustrations and you can really hear Florence Given’s voice throughout. It is a perfect read if you are looking to be more confident and stop making excuses for the people in your life.
- Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Genre: YA fantasy/romance
Plot: After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.
Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her … but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.
Then one of the other contestants turns up dead … quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined (from goodreads).
Why I recommend: Girl power and a mysterious main character that isn’t always good, what’s not to like? The series ends up going on for a while, so if you are looking to get into a series, I like this one. I have yet to finish it because I have a habit of starting four books at a time (I’m working on it, okay?), but even if you don’t want to read the whole series I think the first book is still an entertaining read that is fantasy but isn’t swarmed with magic. (The magic may show up later in the series).
- It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Genre: YA fiction/mental health
Plot: Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life – which means getting into the right high school to get into the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.
Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety (from goodreads).
Ned Vizzini, who himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital, has created a remarkably moving tale about the sometimes unexpected road to happiness.
Why I recommend: This is a story of mental health told from someone who has experienced it, and I feel it’s not super romanticized. I like this book because it shows you can’t always judge someone by what you can see, and it is okay to get help. The book can be triggering, so if you are sensitive to subjects about mental health then I would be cautious about reading this book.
- The Ocean at The End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Plot: Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.
40 years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.
A groundbreaking work from a master, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark (from goodreads).
Why I recommend: I love this book because I feel like it plays on the line between fantasy and fiction since the narrator is a child and may not be reliable. I think this book is intriguing and suspensful, you never know what to expect. I like how it plays on the relationship of adult and child relationships, and I like hearing it from a kid’s perspective and how he describes what he sees and thinks.
- After The End by Clare Mackintosh
Genre: YA science fiction/fantasy
Plot: She’s searching for answers to her past. They’re hunting her to save their future.
World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They’ve survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there.
At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.
When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.
Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she’s trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past (from goodreads).
Why I recommend: This book starts as a dystopian, but it isn’t really a dystopia. I love how the perspective shifts between the two characters and you can watch as their paths cross and how they help each other. This book has science fiction that has such advanced medicine it almost feels like and is borderline magic.
- A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Genre: Fiction/historical fiction
Plot: “A Thousand Splendid Suns” is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years – from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding – that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives – the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness – are inextricable from the history playing out around them.
Propelled by the same storytelling instinct that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, “A Thousand Splendid Suns” is at once a remarkable chronicle of three decades of Afghan history and a deeply moving account of family and friendship. It is a striking, heart-wrenching novel of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love – a stunning accomplishment (from goodreads).
Why I recommend: I think this book is a masterpiece. It blends two stories into one to show the pain and suffering of women in Afghanistan. I think it really opens up people’s eyes and to another side of history that we don’t learn about in our textbooks.
- Where The Crawdad’s Sing by Delia Owens
Genre: Fiction/historical fiction
Plot: For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet fishing village. Kya Clark is barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when the popular Chase Andrews is found dead, locals immediately suspect her.
But Kya is not what they say. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life’s lessons from the land, learning the real ways of the world from the dishonest signals of fireflies. But while she has the skills to live in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world—until the unthinkable happens.
In “Where the Crawdads Sing,” Owens juxtaposes an exquisite ode to the natural world against a profound coming of age story and haunting mystery. Thought-provoking, wise, and deeply moving, Owens’s debut novel reminds us that we are forever shaped by the child within us, while also subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
The story asks how isolation influences the behavior of a young woman, who like all of us, has the genetic propensity to belong to a group. The clues to the mystery are brushed into the lush habitat and natural histories of its wild creatures (from goodreads).
Why I recommend: I loved this book. I mean, I really loved it! I actually got my mom and some of my friends to read it. This book is a mix of coming-of-age with a mystery novel, and I found it so easy to relate to the main character as she grows up. This book keeps you guessing what will happen and will break your heart. It might start off a little slow but once you get going it is so worth it.
- The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Plot: “The Silent Patient” is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband—and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive.
Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.
Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.
Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him… (from goodreads).
Why I recommend: I LOVE this book! Have I said that about all of the books? If you choose to read any on the list it should be this one. This book has a big twist that I didn’t see coming (my mom said she did but I don’t believe her). This book is a page turner, and you get so ingrained and interested in finishing this book to find out the truth. This book was recommended to me by one of my old coworkers when I worked at Barnes and Noble, and let me tell you it is the best book recommendation that anyone has given me!