The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
If you’ve been wanting to read more but navigating book-tok has become too overwhelming, look no further. I’ve had too many experiences of reading a book that was recommended to me via social media that left me disappointed. So after countless hours of scrolling and reading these books on my own, I was able to compile a brief list on what you should read this year to help you become the main character in your life.
Normal People – Sally Rooney (fiction, trigger warning for physical abuse)
This coming of age story set in Ireland follows the stories of Marianne and Connell, beginning in high school and following them through their college years. We get to see the progression of their complicated relationship, along with the development of their personalities and interests as they go through difficult challenges in their friendships and home lives. This book will take you through a rollercoaster of emotions in the best way possible.
I could not recommend this book more than I already do. I initially was hesitant to read this because of all the hype surrounding it, but I’m so glad I did. I was able to finish the entire book and its series on Hulu in just under 10 days. I highly suggest reading the book before watching the series.
I Would Leave Me If I Could – Halsey (poetry, possible trigger warning for sensitive topics)
Even if you’re not a fan of Halsey or poetry in general, I still strongly recommend at least skimming through her collection of poetry in this book. It tackles topics and issues around femininity, mental illness, relationships, childhood and more. I feel like the perspectives offered through her writing can be interpreted in many different ways, giving readers a comfort in applying shared emotions to their own lives.
It’s a short read that doesn’t need to be read in its entirety or even in order, and it’s available at a fairly affordable price. As someone who has been reading poetry for years now, I find this book to be excellent for both beginners and avid readers.
Know my Name – Chanel Miller (autobiography, trigger warning for sexual assault)
I’ve written a review of Chanel’s book in the past, but I’m bringing it up again because I cannot stress how important this book is for everyone to read. Chanel is the survivor of the infamous Stanford sexual assault case back in 2015. She’d chosen to remain anonymous during the trial, but bravely came forward and revealed her identity back in 2019. This book follows the timeline of her assault, the anxiety before the trial, the trial itself, along with its aftermath. Weaved in between this timeline are flashbacks and flashforwards of her life to tell more of the story of Chanel the person, not Brock Turner’s victim.
It’s a heartbreaking and raw story of recovery and healing in a world that does not accommodate victims of assault. Chanel’s beautiful and powerful writing makes this book, her story, and the stories of other survivors even more unforgettable.
Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng (fiction)
I first read this book back in 2018, and it helped me re-discover how amazing reading can be. The novel takes place in a seemingly cookie-cutter neighborhood in Ohio, based on the neighborhood where the author grew up. It shifts between different perspectives, but is mainly centered around the main character Pearl, the teenage daughter of an artist. Pearl’s mother Mia rents a home on the property of the Richardson family, a seemingly perfect, all-American family.
The story follows the complexities of the lives of the members of each family, and how it all comes burning down. Its realistic characters and feelings of suspense and betrayal make this book nearly impossible to put down.
Just like Normal People, Little Fires Everywhere was also turned into a series on Hulu. I urge you to read this book before watching because certain plotlines and character aspects were altered in the TV series.
The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music – Dave Grohl (autobiography)
If you’ve ever listened to 15 seconds of a Nirvana song, then you know Dave Grohl. To know him is to know his music. Along with his 16 Grammys and 2 Emmys, Grohl can now add New York Times Best-Seller to his career accolades.
This book tells the story of Grohl’s life with its narration broken up into the different musical eras of his life. From how he learned to play the drums, to his career with Nirvana and the tragedy of Kurt Cobain’s death, to his daughter following in his footsteps — this book is filled with countless stories intertwined with life lessons. He becomes incredibly vulnerable here and it’s an incredibly easy read. Even if you have no interest in any of his music, I strongly recommend reading the incredible words written by one of the best drummers this world has ever seen.
I’ve newly re-discovered how enriching and fulfilling reading is. Not only is it a great way to keep your brain active and stimulated but it’s also a fantastic form of entertainment that has yet to lose its magic in the digital world. Whether you read only one of these books or all of them, there’s definitely something here for you to like — or, better yet, love.