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Over the summer, with all my sudden free time and the abundance of #BookTok videos on my TikTok “For You Page“, I was able to indulge into the world of reading. A nostalgic obsession for my inner child, the revival of my reading habits has been so joyful. Even if you hated reading as a child, try revisiting it. Don’t miss out on this experience! Here are a few of my favorite books I read this summer and why you need to add them to your “To Be Read” (TBR) list.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

The Vietnamese American writer and poet, Ocean Vuong, dives deep into concepts of tragedy and war through the perspective of a letter written to his non-English speaking mother. This semi-autobiographical book is beautifully crafted and is raw in its intentions to hit you in your core. The book made me question and rethink previously held opinions on the complexity of war and intergenerational trauma. For those with immigrant parents, especially those with Asian backgrounds, this book can be very relatable. To truly understand the material in this book, it should be analyzed deeply, because it holds that much significance. 

Be aware of sensitive subject matter like drug use, sexual assault, trauma and more before reading! Bring some tissues because you’ll be crying by the end of it. 

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

Ottessa Moshfegh, who is of Iranian and Croatian descent, writes an amusing tale of a young woman living in pre-9/11 New York City. This book may be controversial for some readers who have heard of it as it contains an interesting perspective about sensitive topics like suicide, depression, sexual assault and more, but it’s a personal favorite. The main character is written to be unlikeable, as she devotes a year of her life to sleep. In an effort to cleanse her deteriorating mental health, she takes an immeasurable amount of pills daily in order to hibernate for as long as possible. The plot is a bit dysfunctional, which may not be a pleasing read for some, but I interpret the flaws as amusing and morbidly humanizing. I recommend reading this book and to take everything with a grain of salt. You may not like the characters or the plot, but it really depends on your interpretation of the characters and their experiences.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

If you’re a fan of Celeste Ng’s first novel, Everything I Never Told You, you’d probably be a fan of this one too. The Chinese American writer is absolutely brilliant and I definitely recommend reading her work. In Celeste Ng’s second novel, she focuses on a story about a single mother and her daughter who enter the lives of a seemingly-perfect family in modern suburbia. The plot explores the backgrounds of both of these families and their interactions with each other. Seeing the complex identities of both families and their equally-complex relationships can be easily relatable for many readers. Although many have pointed out clichés in this book, I personally loved it and found it difficult to put down. 

Whether reading is your thing or not, these 3 books are must-reads and can truly captivate any reader. Pick them up one day and who knows, you just might find yourself scrolling through #BookTok.

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Camelia Heins

UC Irvine '25

Camelia Heins is a first year Political Science major from Orange County, California. She enjoys writing poetry, listening to several of her Spotify playlists, collecting plants, and playing with her cat, Moira.
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