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My Quarantine Book Opinions for Your Enjoyment

Quarantine has been quite a shit show (no surprise there), but if one good thing came out of being locked in my apartment for months, it’s the resurfacing of my love for reading. Growing up, I used to read all the time. It was literally unnatural to not see me with my nose in a book. However, once I got into high school and classes got harder, I found it more difficult to sit down and read a book like I used to. Here are the four books I read over quarantine that got me over my five-year reading slump.

“On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King

In his memoir, Stephen King recounts his experiences as a writer throughout his life and offers aspiring writers advice on “how to make it.” He tells the reader all about his childhood memories, how he became a writer, and the struggle he felt while trying to write his first successful novel, Carrie. King tells us all about the highs and lows of his journey in a really entertaining and informative read.

As an avid reader of YA contemporary, King’s memoir was the last book I expected to get me back into reading, but I’m definitely not mad about it. This book was actually required reading for one of my classes over the summer (and one of the only ones I actually read) and I found it really helpful and interesting. It was pretty slow to get into, but I won’t lie, he’s quite the interesting man. Once I downloaded the audiobook (narrated by King himself), I could not put it down. Listening to King read his own memoir was really entertaining; I feel like he offered some pretty solid advice through his stories, and not just by saying “here’s how to be a writer,” which I found much more helpful.

Rating: 7/10

“I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter” by Erika L. Sanchez

This YA novel follows the story of Julia as she grieves the untimely death of her older sister who, in her own words, was the “perfect Mexican daughter.” Olga didn’t go away for college, she didn’t cause any problems, and she did what she could to help her family. Julia, however, wasn’t like Olga. Julia wasn’t the perfect Mexican daughter. And as she strives to learn more about her sister, Julia discovers that Olga wasn’t totally the perfect Mexican daughter either.

I’ve wanted to read this book for about a year; when I was given the opportunity to use it as the topic of a glorified book report for class, I was really excited. However, this book definitely didn’t meet my expectations. The overall story was pretty good, but I think I personally just didn’t vibe with the writing style and I found it hard to stay interested. There was also a mental health plot point that, in my opinion, came out of nowhere and made it slightly uncomfortable to read. Honestly, I’m not sure if I would’ve finished it if it weren’t something I had to read for school.

Rating: 4/10

“Normal People” by Sally Rooney

This novel follows the story of two people who grew up in the same small town with very different upbringings and social lives, but still managed to make an unexpected connection. As the story continues, it follows the two through college where they experience a very cyclical relationship — falling in and out of touch with each other.

I absolutely loved reading this book. Normal People was a bit of a wild ride from start to finish and for that reason, I could not put it down (seriously, I read like half of it in three hours). Reading this book with my book club friends definitely helped too (hey there, Connell’s chain gang) because having someone to talk to about the book made it so much more fun to read. Connell and Marianne were quite literally just regular people, but I found myself overly invested in the story of their relationship anyway. They had such a captivating friendship and romance that had me feeling all the feels, all the way through till the end.

Rating: 9/10

“Of Fire and Stars” by Audrey Coulthurst

This YA fantasy follows the story of Princess Dennaleia who, for most of her life, knew pretty well what was expected of her. She is to marry the prince of Mynaria and officially form the alliance between Mynaria and her kingdom. However, Princess Dennaleia has magical abilities that she’s kept hidden since she was a child and is finding that in Mynaria, where magic is forbidden, it’s harder to keep her powers under control. Upon her arrival, a mysterious assassination occurs, forcing her to team up with the very intimidating Princess Amaranthine, sister of her betrothed. As they work together, they learn a lot about each other and begin to build up a strong friendship, which quickly threatens to become something more.

I quite literally do not know how to put into words how much I adore this book. It has been so long since I’ve found myself so captivated by a fantasy novel and the world it takes place in. It also doesn’t hurt that this book contains a WLW romance, which doesn’t get enough representation to begin with, but the fact that it’s WLW and fantasy? Absolutely *chef’s kiss* if you ask me. This book also features one of the most insufferable but immensely enjoyable slow-burn stories I’ve ever read. Overall, I just had a lot of emotions reading this book and I loved every second of it. The sequel, Of Ice and Shadowscame out September 1 and I’m literally itching to start reading it.

Rating: 25/10

Overall, even though I didn’t read a ton of books over quarantine, I’m really satisfied with the books I did read. I will definitely be making more of an effort to read now, because quarantine showed me how much I actually missed getting to sit down with a good book.

Honorable mentions to The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, which I was supposed to read for another class but never actually did. English majors, am I right?

Alina is a senior at the University of Central Florida pursuing a double-major in psychology and creative writing as well as a behavioral forensics certificate. Through her writing, she hopes to find her own voice and encourage others to find theirs. When she isn't writing or drowning in class assignments, you can find her in her room reading or binging Netflix shows with an iced coffee in hand. Be sure to keep up with her on Instagram: @alinajalvarez.
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