I wish I was a good reader. Before I entered high school, I loved to read. It was easily my favorite pastime after completing my homework or when I had a free minute. When I began honors and AP English classes, however, I lost my love for reading and suddenly became too busy to fit one of my favorite hobbies into my day. Of course we read books during class, but they were not easy reads (as most of them were classics), and it was really difficult for me as a lower level reader. Reading independently became pretty much non-existent for me, and I would probably read one book on my own per year.
However, entering college changed that for me, and befriending bookworms reincarnated my love for diving into a good book. While I may not have read that much since beginning college, I read more than I had in high school, and that is good enough for me. Being quarantined in the spring and out of school during the summer has allowed me to compile a list of my current favorites and some of my more recent reads. My five favorites on my bookshelf right now are as follows:
5. Call Me By Your Name
This book recently became a major phenomenon after it was made into a film starring Timotheé Chalamet and Armie Hammer, which is already incredible enough, but in my opinion, the book is even better. I’ve never read such messy but accurate descriptions of love, sexuality and lust in any other novel, which made this book so hard to put down. Readers follow main character Elio in his point of view as he begins to fall deep in love with his family’s summer house guest, Oliver. It was comforting to read such raw human emotions in this story, and being able to relate some ideas to my own life and the relationships I have. I cannot recommend this book more, especially if you have already only seen the movie.
4. Glimmer of Hope: How Tragedy Sparked a Movement
After the school shooting in Parkland, FL at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Feb. 2018, the world was rocked, especially for students and victims of gun violence. This tragedy sparked the March for Our Lives movement, of which I was heavily involved in the few months proceeding the shooting. I was, and still am, truly inspired by the survivors from MSDHS, and was so lucky to be able to hear them speak in person in Washington, D.C. at the march. Their book, Glimmer of Hope, allowed each student to tell their own stories of surviving the shooting and creating the movement. It is a saddening yet moving story that anyone can read and everyone should read, especially to educate oneself on policies surrounding gun control in America.
Of course I had to add a classic to this list, and as a major Shakespeare fan, Hamlet is easily my favorite work by him. I read it for the first time in my 12th grade AP Literature class, having already read his other classics like Romeo and Juliet and Othello in a previous English class. Hamlet tells the story of Prince Hamlet after the death of his father, the king, which Hamlet must avenge. In typical Shakespeare fashion, Hamlet is filled with tragic deaths and sprinkles of humor as readers watch the characters spiral. I know Shakespeare can be difficult to read and interpret, but Hamlet is entertaining enough to make you worry less about what the hell “doth” or “hath” means. Plus, I just can’t get enough of Shakespearean insults. They are gold.
2. All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of fiction and am a sucker for LGBTQ representation in any kind of media, whether that be books, movies, TV shows or music, so this book is truly the best of both worlds. All Out is a compilation of short, fantasy stories written by seventeen young adult writers that involve at least one character that represents a part of the LGBTQ community. Not only is it a fun and quick read, but it is so heartening and almost comforting to read fairy-tale-like stories with characters that are not portrayed as straight and cisgender, as traditional stories have. If this book sounds right up your alley, I implore you to check it out! The best part is that because it is filled with short stories, you do not have to read it from cover to cover and can skip around if you would like.
1. The Freedom Writers Diary
Not only is The Freedom Writers Diary one of my favorite books ever, it’s easily the most read out of all my books on my shelf. It was assigned for us to read in my high school sophomore Enriched English class, therefore it’s been scribbled in, highlighted, underlined (x2 since my sister read it as well). Most of the time, books required for an English class aren’t my favorites, but TFWD opened my 15-year-old eyes to a whole different perspective that my privileged life will never give me. Reading other high schoolers’ experiences as they struggled with race, gang and gun violence, harassment, addiction, poverty, among so many other things helped me to learn that we don’t always know what people may be struggling with in their personal lives. Even though this book was published in 1999, it’s themes are still incredibly common and prominent in today’s society, especially with the recent events involving the tragic deaths of innocent Black people at the hands of the police. I beg of you to read this book if you haven’t already.
I hope this list inspires you to pull that book off of your shelf that you have been meaning to get to, or at least sparks your interest in wanting to read something in general. Of course, I hope you choose to read on of my favorites, but any book is worth it, in my opinion. Happy reading! May you enjoy every minute.