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

As fun as it is to read the scholarly articles assigned throughout the academic year at Northwestern, I truly relish the freedom of choosing my own reading material whenever I can! Here are a few of my favorites if you’re looking for a brain break from study sessions <3

The Alchemist (Paul Coelho)

This story radically altered my perspective on life. The Alchemist is a self-improvement novel disguised as a fable that follows the story of a young shepherd who travels the world in search of his personal legend – learning the true meaning of life along the way. The transcendentalist spin placed upon what makes life special inspired me to reflect upon my worldview and allow my heart to guide my daily decision-making. With lines such as “people are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of,” Coelho utilizes his words to remind readers to shoot for the stars. I couldn’t recommend this book more – especially if you’re looking for a quick read!

Normal People (Sally Rooney)

Normal People is easily the best-written book I’ve ever read. Sally Rooney’s naturalistic prose transcends the page to touch the souls of her audience members. The story is incredibly authentic, following a complex relationship between Marianne and Connell as they come of age in 2010s Ireland. The first time I read Normal People, I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of quotation marks. I relished the opportunity to perpetually engage with the text in my own way, without dictation from the author to streamline plot consumption. Re-reading the book was equally as exciting, as the characters are the embodiment of the notion that “art imitates life.” Marianne and Connell are deeply flawed, yet their imperfections allow readers to find elements of their own lived experiences within those outlined on the page. Normal People is incredible – and I highly recommend this for a one-sitting read!

Red, White, & Royal Blue (Casey McQuiston)

As a political science major, I’m a sucker for a legislative love affair – bonus points for enemies to lovers! RWARB is everything I could’ve wanted and more, and my current response to “What’s your favorite book?”  While the budding romance between the First Son of the United States and the Prince of England is an obvious point of intrigue, the delightful use of witty banter to aid in the development of their unconventional friendship was a blast to read. The subplot of an upcoming presidential election that simmers beneath the surface of the story adds to the air of anticipation that lingers throughout the novel. If you love international relations, this one’s for you!

P.S. – You can also check out the RWARB movie on Prime Video for a cinematic version of the story!

Educated (Tara westover)

Tara Westover’s memoir is an underrated gem within the literary world. The book shares the life story of its author, who was raised by a Mormon family in Idaho. By pursuing higher education (despite her family’s wishes), she utilizes her scholarships to attend BYU, University of Cambridge, and eventually Harvard to broaden her worldview through erudite development. Educated is an overwhelmingly girl-boss story that emphasizes the power of determination and intellect, whilst exploring heavier topics like mental health and domestic abuse. I was extremely moved by Tara Westover’s story and found her memoir compelling and unlike any other text I’d ever read. To learn about learning through a novel lens, I would highly recommend picking up a copy of Educated. 

Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling)

What better way to celebrate the return of fall weather than reading the Harry Potter series? I revisited these books over the summer and couldn’t recommend them more! The magic of Hogwarts transcends the page, and the world-building is flawless. The cohesion across the 7-book series is nearly unfathomable and the meticulous detail required to design the whimsy of the Wizarding World is wickedly impressive. Not only is the magical multiverse of Harry Potter my all-time favorite fictional world, but my favorite comfort characters reside within the pages between Philosopher’s Stone and Deathly Hallows. The invaluable ability of this series to transport readers back in time through the nostalgia of intrinsic images inspired by its pages is remarkable – and why this will always be my favorite book series and my highest recommendation!

Song of Achilles (Madeline Miller)

Madeline Miller’s Song of Achilles is practically life-changing. Rooted in Greek Mythology, the book tells the tale of Patroclus and Achilles, two boys who become companions in the era of the Trojan War. After being called upon to fight by an archaic prophecy, the pair embark on a whirlwind journey to the sea. Miller’s interpretation of this classic tale is truly poetic, and an absolute joy to read. The story is deliciously captivating, and I read the final 200 pages in one sitting – finishing the book in tears. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get over just how beautifully written the Song of Achilles is – but it certainly left me wanting more! Now, I’m dying to take a proper classics course at NU, and am seriously contemplating reading the Iliad

Kayln Jackson

Northwestern '26

Kayln is a sophomore at Northwestern studying political science on the pre-law track. She enjoys writing about fashion and the entertainment industry. When she’s not writing for HC, you can probably find her playing her ukulele, planning her dream vacation, or spending way too much time on Pinterest.