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Summer has come and gone, and so has all my extra time to read for pleasure.  As a summer challenge, I challenged myself to read at least 10 books before the start of the semester. Besides being a fun dynamic, this challenge would be quite productive, because I was so behind on my reading goal for the year. Even though I consider myself a mood reader; and these books aren’t technically “summer-y”, I read them all the same. Consider this a formal ranking of the books you should consider reading… or not.

10. The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic

This book confirmed two reading facts about me: I don’t like reading about sports (even fictional ones) and feel too old to read YA. Apart from that, the book’s characters were just not my cup of tea and I was quite lost on the whole point of this story. Not liking this book was such a bummer for me because  I had been looking forward to reading it for such a  long time. However, I finally reached the conclusion that it just didn’t hit the same as it would have if I had read it at 16. 

9. Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid 

This might be one of my most disappointing reads this year. Although the plot was interesting enough to read the entirety of this book in a little under 12 hours, there’s something about the lack of emotional depth within the family dynamics and the romantic relationships involved that left me unsatisfied at the end. Although this book is supposed to fight against racial stereotypes, I felt the opposite was true, especially towards the novel’s end.

8. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Even though I gave this book 5 stars, the post-reading clarity has allowed me to process the abundant issues with the writing and the characters. I love the classic enemies-to-lovers trope in contemporary romance, but there was something about this dynamic that left me side-eyeing the author constantly. On the other hand, a slew of fatphobic comments and a very aggressive white couple make this book almost unreadable. 

7. November 9 by Colleen Hoover 

Similar to my feelings on The Hating Game, I gave this book a high rating. After some contemplation, however, the cracks started to show. I won’t lie, I’m not the biggest fan of Hoover or her writing after reading Verity earlier this year, so maybe I’m a little biased. However, I did enjoy November 9 exponentially more than Verity. The plot twist at the end made me question everything that I had read up until then. 

6. Comfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M. Valente

This short novella had me so incredibly confused right until the very end. Unfortunately, I cannot say much about this book without giving it all away, but it reminds me a lot of Olivia Wilde’s upcoming film “Don’t Worry Darling”. That’s all I can say, other than it was an ominously cryptic and entertaining read.

5. Book Lovers by Emily Henry 

Emily Henry wrote this book for me. Book Lovers is exactly what I needed to start my summer reading after having gone through a big reading slump. This is one of the few contemporary romances that had me physically reacting to what I was reading. This book gave me such a sense of not only romantic love, but family love as well. This book can make you kick your feet with uncontrollable giggling, and sobbing for the last 40 pages. Everything Henry writes is a kicker for me. 

4. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

I won’t lie to youー this book was a rough ride, and I didn’t realize how much I loved this novel until I reached the last two pages. This was my first Murakami, which is probably why I had such a rough start at the beginning, but there is something about Murakami’s storytelling prose that made me grow with his character. Although it was occasionally filled with an unnecessarily complex narrative voice, I found myself crying at the end. 

3. The MindF*ck Series (Books 3-5) by S.T. Abby 

When people say “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, they’re most definitely talking about the Mindf*ck Series. I will admit this isn’t the most perfectly written novel, nor did I really process anything after learning the plot consisted of an FBI agent unknowingly falling in love with the serial killer he’s after. This series was exactly the right amount of trashy and spicy that I needed after a long semester of critically thinking about every form of literature I consumed. No thoughts, just Lana Myers. 

2. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: and Other Stories… by Caitlin Doughty

This book was a key part of my healing process after having lost my grandmother earlier in the summertime. Doughty recounts her journey through working in the funeral industry and her relationship with death. I’ve always had such a weird relationship with the concept of death and funerals, especially after the bruise of my loss was so fresh in my mind. Reading this novel, as morbid as it seems, helped me heal from my loss and move with it instead of moving on from it. If you’re ever grieving the loss of a loved one, I recommend this book completely. 

1. I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

Now, I know I just talked about healing after losing someone, but Jennette’s book (including its controversial title) was the book that I had to devour in one sitting. I grew up watching Jennette on screen and finally learning the truth as an adult has been such a difficult experience. It feels like finally taking off those rose-colored glasses of childhood. While I am not prone to sensitivity on the matter, I found myself heavily triggered by Jennette’s detailed experiences with eating disorders because of how close they came to my own. This book has left me reeling for weeks that have gone by since I’ve read it, but the lasting impact serves right with the subject matter. 

This summer was a particularly difficult one for me to get through, but with the help of a little thing I like to call escapism, I was able to cope with the harsh realities of that time. Happy reading! 

Luisa Colón is an undergraduate student at the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras Campus where they are currently working towards a BA in English Literature with an emphasis on Contemporary Literature. Besides the usual long walks on the beach, she enjoys reading romance novels, updating their bookstagram, and starting (but never finishing) crochet projects.
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