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In a Reading Slump? Check Out Some of My Favorite Recent Reads

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at NCSU chapter.

For the girls who love a good novel

As a little girl I absolutely LOVED reading, always up late at night with a flashlight reading past my bedtime just to see how the book ended. Over the past year or so, I’ve re-discovered my love for reading and discovered some really great novels. Here are some of my recent favorites ranging from alternate history, to mystery, and even some science fiction.

#1 Biography of x by catherine Lacey

My number one favorite read recently, and maybe of all time, is Biography of X by Catherine Lacey. This novel is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. In a sort of book-within-a-book, Lacey creates an alternate universe where the South seceded from the North in the 1940’s, creating a hyper-progressive democracy in the North and a highly restrictive theocracy in the South. X, the main character of the novel, is a mysterious artist who has lived many lives, none of which are known to her wife C.M Lucca. When her wife is found dead, Lucca searches all over North America for answers about her wife’s mysterious past and uncovers the lives and personas X ebbed and flowed through for her entire life. And so, she decides to write the Biography of X, recording all of these personas X took on by interviewing the forgotten people of her past. This is why I absolutely adore this book. It pushes the boundary of how to put the reader into the world you’ve created, how to immerse them in this fictional world. The attention to detail combined with an absolutely fascinating plot made this my new favorite book to recommend to anybody, even those who don’t love reading.

#2 Sula by toni morrison

This is my most recent read, which I actually discovered in my American Literature class. However, I enjoyed this book and my class discussions on it so much that I have to recommend this and every other Toni Morrison book. Sula takes place from the 1920s-1980s following a best friend duo, Sula and Nel. This book does such a beautiful job at exemplifying what it means to grow up with someone, to learn about the world with them, but also what it means to be betrayed by them. True literature is always a peek in to history and to a perspective you may never understand yourself, and that’s why it’s so important to read books written by diverse authors. Sula’s plot was interesting, but I took more away from the characters than anything else. Morrison has a talent for developing complex and intriguing characters in a way I feel many authors fail. To me, a book is well-written and realistic when the characters have their strengths and flaws, and react in ways that real people would. Sula is a great example of this and I recommend it to anybody looking for a shorter book that will still pull them in while reading, and stick when them when its finished.

#3 the year of magical thinking by JOan didion

Although heartbreaking, I found Joan Didion’s memoir incredibly moving. Throughout this book, Didion is coping with the loss of her husband and how to make sense of change when it turns your life into something you had never anticipated. She reflects on the things she did well, what she could’ve done better, and grieving not only her husband, but her life as she knew it. I’m not going to lie, this book was devastating. The content and the way she describes her emotion is so raw and honest that it’s almost painful to read at times. However, Joan Didion had this incredible ability to take so much darkness and make it beautiful and poetic. If you’ve never read Didion I recommend reading one or two of her novels before reading this, just to understand her more before delving into her memoir. On the other hand, if you’re not a big novel reader and prefer more non-fiction, then The Year of Magical Thinking is for you.

#4 Klara and the Sun by kazuo ishiguro

The bright red cover of this book caught my eye about a year ago, and I loved this book for the same reason I love Biography of X; it pushes so many boundaries and did it so well. Klara and The Sun is a truly incredible sci-fi, placed in a future world where children are given companion robots as toys. The novel is written from Klara’s perspective as the robot, referred to throughout the book as “Artificial Friend”, and she is chosen by a little girl named Josie. Basically, Klara’s job is to entertain and care for Josie the way a babysitter would similar to the movie Megan, however this novel takes a much more wholesome spin on the concept. Klara is seeing the whole world for the first time and misunderstanding even the most mundane things. This element creates such an inspiring tone in the novel, as Klara sees everything with such naiveté and hope. This novel takes you along with Klara as she learns about humanity and the outside world, and teaches the reader so much about their own humanity. If you’re weighed down by all of the negative media about AI or just looking for a light-hearted read, Klara and The Sun is for you!

#5 The flames by sophie haydock

The Flames was a random pick from the library that surprised me. It revolves around one artist, Egon Schiele. who is breaking the boundaries of what it means to create a masterpiece. His art at the time was either revered or dismissed as inappropriate, although now he’s gone down in history for his talent. However, nobody had taken the time to examine the muses behind his art–the women who inspired him to create. And as with most things in history, the women are never remembered although they suffered a lot of pain at the hands of Egon. I was very interested to find out that Egon Schiele was a real artist and these women were truly his muses. The story is engulfing, the writing is amazing, and the novel was a great and unexpected pick up.

Marisa is a 3rd-year Psychology major and a Non-Profit studies minor. She hopes to use her degree to work with non-profits around the Triangle in order to improve her community. Currently, she works in an adulthood well-being psychology lab for credit hours on campus analyzing data concerning mental health and cognitive impairments such as Alzheimers disease. Overall, Marisa is trying out multiple things in order to build her experience and find her area of interest. After graduating in 2025, Marisa plans to take a year (or more) off from school before returning to get her Masters degree in Psychology. Marisa has always enjoyed crafting, and has really embraced this side of herself all her life. Currently, her favorite crafts are crochet, knitting on the Sentro machine, collage, jewelry making, and candle making. Oftentimes she finds herself perusing the shelves of Hobby Lobby or Michaels in search of her new craft hyper-fixation. One of her favorite things to do is keep a creative scrapbook to abstractly put together some of her favorite memories and keep track of books and movies she enjoys.