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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Mizzou chapter.

2022 has been deemed the year of reading, with the help of “BookTok”. A popular genre of TikTok that focuses on book recommendations, summaries and analyses that, now more than ever, has made reading feel cool again. As the girl who always had her nose in a book in elementary school, I always loved getting lost in all of the stories I chose. As I have gotten older and subsequently busier, I have had to take a step back from reading, despite how much I love it. Luckily though, I was able to find the time this summer to make reading a priority again. BookTok has helped me to rediscover how cathartic a good book can be, even though the number of videos and recommendations can most certainly overwhelm you. While I am definitely no expert, these are my top picks for someone trying to get into (or back into) reading. 

normal people by Sally ROoney

I’m sure you have heard of Normal People by Sally Rooney a million times. A book whose fame and admiration aren’t simply limited to the wild success of its novel, but also the television adaption that was met with both critical and commercial acclaim. When starting out, I was truly hesitant that Normal People could live up to the hype. But, despite my hesitancy, it blew me out of the water. The novel follows the lives of Connell and Marianne as they navigate love and growing up. Rooney’s distinct writing style is, what some may say, “hauntingly beautiful” and, according to book critic, Heller McAlpin, Rooney’s novels are, “…exciting hand-held devices — new books that bring a 21st century perspective on insecurity to the coming-of-age narrative.” She continues by saying, “Normal People is a compulsive, psychologically astute will-they-or-won’t-they love story involving two of the most sympathetic people you’re liable to meet between covers.” While I do put Normal People in the romance genre, it is, above all, a study of the two main characters. This is a perfect book for someone who loves to invest in the lives of the characters.

the anthropocene reviewed by John Green

The Anthropocene Reviewed is the perfect novel for those who haven’t read a book since the young adult genre craze of the early 2010s, where John Green reigned supreme. Green, who is most well known for The Fault in our Stars and Paper Towns, was the catalyst for many young people to begin reading outside the four walls of their English class. So, what better author to return to than the man who instilled a love for reading in so many?

This novel, unlike most of Green’s, is nonfiction. Based on his podcast of the same name, Green examines the Anthropocene (the period of time where humans became the dominant influence), through short five-star reviews. This essay collection is hard to categorize due to it being a blend of both memoir and anthropological nonfiction. But, regardless, The Anthropocene Reviewed is a stunning collection of work.

Green elaborates on his decision to write adult nonfiction by saying, “I didn’t want to write in code anymore. I wanted to try to write as myself because I’ve never done that in any formal way. I wanted to try to think about how I was looking at the world.” Green’s writings are profound yet digestible, and to grow with an author like him is one of the simple pleasures of life.

The love hypothesis By Ali Hazelwood

The Love Hypothesis, while not groundbreaking, is the perfect example of reading for pleasure. Ali Hazelwood, the author, has been quoted saying, “All I want is for people to feel entertained and spend a few pleasant hours.” And it can easily be argued that her work does just that. She creates a romance you can easily root for, especially with Olive and Adam, the main characters. But, unlike many of the romance novels recommended on BookTok, you do not have to get over some poor writing to enjoy the book. Hazelwood has proven herself to be a competent author who, in the case of this book, has created a modern-day romance that readers can get excited about. Especially if you are looking for a more 2000s-style, rom-com, girls’ night movie type of vibe. The Love Hypothesis serves not only as a starting point for those wanting to get into reading, but it helps to nurture the hopeless romantic in us all.

Dead blondes and Bad Mothers: Monstrosity, Patriarchy and the Fear of Female Power By Jude Doyle*

Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers is an interesting examination of how women are portrayed in media and what these portrayals mean for women in real life. Jude Doyle delves into the world of popular culture through the lens of horror films and true crime to explore the patriarchal views of society. With a keen sense of humor and a critical eye, Doyle’s Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers is a great example of nonfiction that is truly original. Kirkus Reviews, a review magazine described their book as, “Unflinching, hard-charging feminist criticism.” This novel would be an excellent read for those looking to explore more nonfiction!

*Doyle now goes by they/them pronouns and uses the name Jude.

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison was the first classic I ever truly loved. With its combination of incredible writing and haunting subject matter, The Bluest Eye is a force to be reckoned with. The novel follows the tragic life of a young Black girl growing up in the post-Depression era. Morrison explores themes of harm through Eurocentric beauty standards and internalized racism. The fact that this is a debut novel is almost incomprehensible. American author Hilton Als writes, “As a kid, I responded viscerally to ‘The Bluest Eye’, for a number of reasons, starting with the book jacket.” Als continues by saying, “Morrison, in the photograph on the back cover, looked like the kind of person my family might have known, and if she was one of us that meant that one of my four beautiful older sisters could, perhaps, write a book, too.” Morrison’s contributions, not only to literature but to the Black community, cannot be understated. This is the perfect choice for someone wanting to get into more classic literature or for someone who wants to start reading from Morrison’s vast catalog.


Jordan Smith

Mizzou '25

Jordan Smith is a freshman journalism student at the University of Missouri. She is a lover of Taylor Swift, a good book, and overpriced iced coffee.