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As a child and throughout high school, I was an avid reader. I always had a book on me and could easily read multiple books a week. However, the chaos of starting college, shortly followed by a global pandemic, ruined that for me. I spent so much time reading and studying for class, and keeping up with the ever-changing news, that reading for pure enjoyment became a chore. At the beginning of 2022, my New Year’s Resolution was to read more. I started the year strong and read three books before spring semester started, but junior year was harder than anticipated and I fell off very quickly. Once May came, and finals were over, I was determined to read more and actually stick with it (as well as enjoy it). Well, it worked! I can proudly say that I am currently on my 17th book of the summer and have fallen back in love with an old hobby of mine. Below are my top choices, and I urge everyone reading this to pick up at least one of these books before the semester starts.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Despite the controversy surrounding author Delia Owens, and the fact that the story is now an easily accessible movie, I would recommend this book 1000 times. I could not put the book down and every chapter left me dying to know what happened next. I do not often read murder mysteries – especially fictional ones – I tend to lean towards watching true crime on the Investigation Discovery channel and sticking to Law & Order: SVU. However, this book may have changed my mind on the genre; specifically because underneath the story of the murder trial are themes of environmentalism, first love, and self-preservation. Moreover, the story makes you question the lines between right and wrong while keeping readers on their toes until the very last page. I have yet to meet someone who read this book and did not enjoy it.

Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Without a doubt, Emily Henry is one of the best romance writers of our young adulthood. Not only are her stories captivating, but her characters will make you genuinely laugh. Parts of it had me laughing so hard I had to momentarily put the book down to catch my breath. For those who love the technical aspects of books and the way writing flows, you will be amazed by how beautifully Henry details strong emotions and portrays the world she immerses her readers in. Plus, this book contains two of my favorite tropes: enemies to lovers and big city people in a small quirky town. 

Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman

This book is for the girls who spent their early teens reading fanfiction on Wattpad. This is the story of our wildest dreams - spending a whirlwind weekend as a journalist interviewing a celebrity crush. AND the whirlwind weekend happens twice! This book follows a then and now structure with 10 years in between, along with the trope of a second chance at love. As someone raised Jewish, I loved the small cultural nods from the main character, Chani. Reading this made me feel fourteen again, and I even questioned logging back into Tumblr for old times' sake. Most importantly, there is a small nod to Gilmore Girls, which automatically makes any story better.

The Godparent Trap by Rachel Van Dyken

I picked up this book on a whim, saw a cute cover, barely read the back, and bought it without much thought. My boyfriend and I were set to have a reading date, so I let him make the book choice with little guidance - and with how well this went, he may be picking a majority of my future reads. In all honesty, the first few chapters were hard for me to get into. This book is another take on enemies to lovers, and some of the language used by the male main character did not sit well with me. This story is heavily tied to grief, and the intense anger he felt took some adjusting to get used to and digest. BUT, when I picked this book up for the second time it had me hooked. I laughed a lot and cried a bit, and again I did not want to put this one down. I would recommend this to anyone who wants a quick, easy read with a happy ending.

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

I adored this book! This story follows a then and now structure of two friends who teeter the line of falling in love. In the story, you watch them grow together as teenagers and meet again as young adults. They start their relationship with a love for reading, spending summers growing together, and are reconnected years later with the opportunity to reflect on past actions. Readers, and the characters, are asked if one mistake is worth losing a chance at love. For me, this book felt real, I did not feel like I was reading fiction but rather I was being told a story about a friend of a friend. This book is a bit of a longer read but very worth it!

Madison Turunen is a student of the Class of 2023 at Pace University, on the New York City campus. She is double majoring in History and Peace & Justice Studies with minors in Women & Gender Studies and Politics. Someday she hopes to go into human rights advocacy. She is a huge activist and environmentalist, with a lean towards gender equality and peace-building. As a part of Her Campus, she has published articles on lifestyle, entertainment, wellness, and news.
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