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

SPOILER ALERT: I will be discussing spoilers in my analyses of the books. I will indicate when the spoilers begin so you can still look at the rankings without me ruining the ending for you.

For my whole life, I saw reading as a chore I simply could not be bothered to do. Most of the time I spent reading was in or because of school. It wasn’t really the act of reading, and it was just the fact that I had to do it. Something about assigned reading did not sit right with me. And what definitely did not help was the boring, repetitive, mentally exhausting, never-ending books assigned in class. It felt like some paradox where I kept turning the page but didn’t get any further into the book.

When I entered high school, the assigned readings slowed down and I lost my hatred toward books. During this time, BookTok was gaining popularity, and I had fallen into its trap. I decided I wanted to get into reading, but I really did not know where to start. Honestly, I knew I would never start reading unless the perfect first book just fell into my lap. Around this time, my sister finished what I would consider the BookTok book of the year: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. If you were on TikTok at this time, you have definitely heard about this book. It went unbelievably viral. She offered the book to me to read during vacation, and since then, I will not shut up about reading. 

So, if you want to start your reading journey but don’t know where to go, or if you just really care about my opinion, here are my top three books of all time.

3. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

In 1714, Addie LaRue is cursed with the ability to live forever, with the caveat that she is forgotten by everyone she meets. 300 years later, she meets Henry in a bookstore who remembers her.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue written by V. E. Schwab, was published in October of 2020 and was a New York Times Best Seller for 37 consecutive weeks. Thirty. Seven.

The book encompasses a few different genres, including romance, fantasy, mystery, and historical fiction.


This book is great for someone who doesn’t know what genre of books they want to start reading or if you just don’t have a genre preference. At its core, it is a fiction book, but it is truly a melting pot of many genres that you can dip your toes into. For me, this book broke the chokehold that psychological thrillers had on me and exposed me to genres I had previously not been interested in.

I am someone who never reads fantasy books. This was actually the first fantasy book I have ever read, and because of that, I was not expecting to enjoy it. But this book is so unique in the way that the fantasy is very subtle. Addie gets cursed by some type of mythical being named Luc, who revisits her every year on the same day. The author develops Luc’s character in a way that you start to see him as a real person. Luc becomes obsessed with Addie, and Addie really doesn’t know what to do about it.

The story is alternated between two time periods: the early 1700s, when she was first cursed, and 300 years later in the present time. This is why I say that the book is part historical fiction because only half of the book takes place in the distant past. Schwab pulled off this alteration perfectly. The juxtaposition of the problems Addie faces at the beginning of her life versus how she was able to solve them is so interesting. It also shows how the complicated relationship between Luc and Addie developed.

The other part of this story that came up completely unexpectedly to me was the romantic relationship formed between Addie and Henry, the book clerk who remembered her. This is the first romantic relationship Addie has ever entered since her curse, and she has to navigate it while trying to solve the mystery of why Henry can remember her. Turns out Henry was cursed by the same entity that cursed Addie, but he has a time limit on his life. Now that she has fallen for him, she has to convince Luc to save him. If you are expecting a full love story from cover to cover, you are going to be disappointed. It was, again, a very subtle but adorable romance.

My favorite part about this book was the different subplots embedded within the story. This does not always work well in books, and it can get very confusing, but the author definitely pulled it off. You have the story of Addie navigating her curse in 1714, coping with the loss of one of her closest friends after she is forgotten, her complicated relationship with Luc, her romance with Henry, and her race to save him. I wish Schwab had made this book into a multi-part series so I could continue watching the lives of Addie, Henry, and Luc.

Fair warning, you might cry at the end of the book because I sure did.

2. Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

I’m going to preface the summary with this: It really does not do the book justice. Even if it doesn’t grab your attention, read it anyway. There is a reason why every book lover is talking about the ending.

Lousie is a secretary who starts an affair with her boss, David. Coincidentally, Louise also sparks a friendship with Adele, David’s wife. As her relationship with the couple progresses, she notices something is off with their marriage, and she’s not sure which one of them is in the wrong.

Behind Her Eyes is an international New York Times #1 Bestseller that, in my opinion, completely changed how people view psychological thrillers. It was so good that Netflix adapted it into a six-part limited series (the book is still better, though).

Behind Her Eyes is a psychological thriller through and through. If you are someone who has read too many psychological thrillers and now finds them too predictable, try this book. About 90% of the books I read are some sort of thriller/mystery/suspense, and I say this with my whole heart: never in a million years would I have ever predicted this ending. Ever.


The fun part of psychological thrillers is the process of trying to guess the ending. There is nothing more annoying when a book has such a random ending that it feels like the author didn’t even give you any hints. Although I just said I could have never predicted the ending, Behind Her Eyes is not that type of frustrating book. The ending is pretty crazy, but it works. Pinborough gave you the hints but was able to hide them in places the reader wouldn’t have expected to look. 

So many times, I have caught myself getting to the end of a book and realizing all of the useless clues the author put in the story to throw you off, and it makes me really mad. In Behind Her Eyes, everything is important from Adelle’s addiction to the conversations with Adelle’s friend Rob to Adelle’s seemingly disturbing behavior. Every part of the book ties together in a cute little bow at the end.

From the people that I have spoken to who were not fans of the book, they mostly say that they did not like how the ending got into a body-swap-science-fiction-fantasy deal. At first, I was thinking along similar lines. I thought I was reading a psychological thriller, not the adult version of Freaky Friday. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there is nothing that says psychological thrillers cannot have a fictional part to it. The whole reason I never guessed the ending was that I didn’t expand my thinking to include the possibility of a fantastical ending. Just because you or I haven’t read a psychological thriller with a fictional aspect does not mean all psychological thrillers have to be based on things that could really happen. Behind Her Eyes redefined how psychological thrillers are perceived in my eyes.

1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Kya Clark, known as Marsh Girl by locals, lives in the marshes of North Carolina in complete isolation from the rest of her town. Regardless, Kya begins a relationship with two men from the town: Tate Walker, who is completely in love with her, and Chase Andrews, who has some not-so-good intentions. When Chase turns up dead, Kya has to face the society that has shut her out for so long. 

Where the Crawdads Sing was published by Delia Owens in 2018 and earned its spot on the New York Times Best Seller list in 2019 for 168 consecutive weeks. The book has recently gained a lot of popularity again with the movie adaptation that was released in 2022. With over 2.5 million ratings on Goodreads, averaging 4.4/5 stars, this story took the book lover community by storm.

Where the Crawdads Sing has aspects of multiple genres, including fiction, mystery, and romance.

Before I get into the spoiler section of this review, I want to emphasize my love for this book. Owens has such a beautiful writing style and talent for making the reader feel personally connected to the characters. The way she portrayed the main female character, Kya, was such a breath of fresh air for me. Kya is the most powerful female character I have ever experienced in a book. Though this is not a book that outwardly emphasizes women’s rights, I believe it is one of the best feminist writings I have ever read. I would not be surprised if, later in my life, my children were assigned this book in their English class.


Have you ever read a book where the girl goes back to her ex-boyfriend after a week just because he said pretty please, and you’re like, Literally, who does that? It drives me crazy when the author just wants to skip ahead to the cute part of the book where they get back together and live happily ever after like nothing ever happened. Because that is rarely the reality for most girls going through a heartbreak. Real life people cannot just skip to the end, where they kiss under the mistletoe and forget about the hurt their partner caused them. And we definitely should not be encouraging this storyline so that young readers think they have to immediately forgive someone who hurt them. As much as I loved the relationship between Tate and Kya, I really respected the way Kya held her ground and refused to entertain Tate after he hurt her even more. Tate abandoned Kya after giving empty promises that they would be together forever, and from Kya’s perspective, I wouldn’t take him back either. Owens wrote through the heartbreak, and although they did end up together in the end, it did not make it easy for them. Kya showed an unrelenting strength in this part of the book that should be an inspiration for everyone going through anything remotely similar to what she went through.

I think it’s important to give at least a little attention to those poems. Kya is Amanda Hamilton? I did not see that coming. I have pictures of those poems in my camera roll because they were so powerful, and making Kya the author of them was such a smart addition by Owens. In case you were wondering, here’s my favorite poem by Amanda Hamilton/Kya:

“I must let go now.

Let you go.

Love is too often 

The answer for staying.

Too seldom the reason

For going.

I drop the line

And watch you drift away.”

Where the Crawdads Sing

Overall, I think Kya’s story was one of strength, compassion, and bravery. She was left by both of her parents and all of her siblings by the age of 10. She had to fend for herself in a town where she was seen as folklore by her fellow community members. She defended herself against Chase, her ex-boyfriend/abuser. She then had to go to trial and face judgment from members of her community that ostracized her for so long. Even in court, when it was a local fairytale versus the high school star quarterback, she showed up, she fought, and she won. In reality, was she guilty? Okay yes. But I think the community that decided to shun a 10-year-old girl was the real criminal. This book shares an important lesson about inclusion and the harmful effects of rejecting a person just because they are different.

Elena Duncan is a writer for Her Campus at the University of Tampa chapter. She primarily writes about her latest reads, topics in the news, and maybe a little Taylor Swift. Elena is a Freshman at the University of Tampa studying Political Science with a minor in Professional Education. She is passionate about making political education accessible and understandable to all. Elena went on an education abroad trip with UT to Costa Rica and studied Tropical Biology and Environmental Sustainability. Because of that, she is now a Global Ambassador for UT where she encourages students to get involved in the education abroad program. In her free time, Elena enjoys browsing Goodreads for new books to put on her TBR, rewatching TV shows, and playing The Sims. Her hometown of Eatontown, New Jersey is a short drive to the Jersey Shore which she loves to take advantage of. When she’s home she spends her time hanging out with her friends, driving down Ocean Ave with the windows down, and eating a lot of bagels. If you can’t find her -day and night- she is probably trying a new ice cream shop.