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

I know I’m not alone in having an extensive “To Be Read” List. These days, it can be difficult to find the time and energy to read recreationally. I’m definitely looking forward to summer when I won’t have schoolwork to contend with and can hopefully make a dent in my TBR.

If you’re looking for some ideas to get yourself started as summer approaches, then here are some fantastic books, across a few different genres, that you may have missed!

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Kline (2020)

🏳️‍🌈 ❤️ 🏡 🌊

This book is set in a familiarly capitalistic society that, for our lead, Linus Baker, is uprooted when he is put on assignment at a very strange “orphanage” by the ocean. A heartwarming romance develops between Linus and another character, Arthur Parnassus, with themes throughout the novel of learning how to live for yourself, found family, and the strangeness of children (which has less to do than being the literal Antichrist or an unidentifiable blob creature than just…children being children). There is also an important message about fatphobia in our society, which I found refreshing. 

This book is a lighthearted comedy and a fast, easy read that still manages to make you feel a ton of emotions at the climax. I highly recommend it.

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez (1994)

🦋 🦋 🦋 🦋

I read this book over spring break at the recommendation of a professor. It’s a historical fiction novel set in the Dominican Republic during the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. This followed the four Mirabal sisters from their youth to their adulthood spent in political work, even as they were harassed, threatened, and imprisoned. It’s a painful read sometimes, but so worth the effort to understand the vital work of such important feminists of the 20th century. It’s so beautifully written and explores the perspectives of all four women with great care.

The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green (2021)

🌍 🍃 🌭 🌆

This is one of those books that has the potential to change your life when you read it. This nonfiction work is a collection of conversational, easy-to-read essays that, across a variety of strange, heart-wrenching, and hilarious topics, manages to speak on the weariness and confusion of existing in the world. It touches on the pandemic, social media, capitalism, and the complications of being human, with an emphasis on mental health. It leaves you ultimately hopeful without coming across as naïve or dumbed-down for the sake of an uplifting ending. I read this last summer and I still think about it every day, almost a year later.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas (2020)

🏳️‍🌈 ❤️ 💀 🔍

This murder mystery adventure is a lot of fun to read, as it follows a young trans boy named Yadriel who accidentally summons the ghost of a dead boy, Julian Diaz, and is forced to navigate the complicated dynamic of stretching the bonds between the living and dead as Día de Muertos approaches. This YA book explores Yadirel’s experience as a trans man in a traditional Latinx family, in addition to the romance that oh-so-slowly flourishes between Yadirel and Julian. 

It is a thrilling yet simultaneously sweet experience, and I couldn’t stop reading it once I started.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (1986)

❤️ 🏰 🔥 🧙‍♀️

While some who recognize this title may know it as a Studio Ghibli animated movie, the source material of the film is also widely considered a children’s classic in the worlds of whimsy and fantasy. That said, reading it as an adult, this book is every bit as humorous, touching, imaginative, and magical. If you’ve never read it, read it as a child, or love the movie based on it – then this is your sign to give the book a proper chance. 

It follows Sophie, who defies her misfortune as the eldest of three daughters and seeks her fate. She gets cursed by an infamous witch and meets the biggest drama queen the world has ever seen, with whom a romance blooms (but only after seeing the absolute worst of each other and loving anyway). I can’t overstate how fun this book is. I love it equally to the Ghibli adaptation and feel the book deserves just as much love.

Happy reading!

Tessa Denton is a senior student at the University of Washington, Bothell, double majoring in Culture, Literature, and the Arts; and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies. Tessa loves to write, read, spend time outside, thrift for knickknacks she doesn't need, and spoil her cat.