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

Excluding the books I was required to read for class, I read 15 books over 3 quarters! That may not sound like much, but balancing homework, actual work, and free time can be a lot, so I am proud of my progress, nonetheless. I read some amazing books over the school year, some I have not shut up about in months. 

I probably never will about one in particular, but you’ll have to wait for that one…

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To begin, my lowest-ranked book on my list is actually the first book I finished this quarter: A Clockwork Orange. I kid you not, I launched into a text rant the moment I finished it. (Thanks, Mom. I had to get it off of my chest.) To summarize my criticisms, I felt that the book was nothing but conservative propaganda that boiled down to “youth bad, welfare bad, corporal punishment good.” Fun times… I left that book in a hotel for another unlucky soul. I get that it’s a classic and all, but I finished the book angry that I gave it any of my time.

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Jumping to the book I most recently finished, She and Her Cat. I’m a cat person who wanted a light read, but this collection of short stories was not for me. Two authors wrote two stories each, totaling four, which ranged in quality. The prose was young and uninteresting, and the perspectives shifted constantly, not just from story to story, but from paragraph to paragraph within each story. At a certain point, I rolled my eyes at the book, willing it to be over with. So much for a light read…

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Moving on, Ayoade on Top was a book I initially gifted to my mom. We both love Graham Norton, which is where I heard of this book, and Richard Ayoade–a comedian and writer–wrote this book as a satire on pretentious film critics, this one on a Gwyneth Paltrow film called “View from the Top.” It started off very funny, but—in my opinion—the bit went on too long. Ayoade is very funny, but it felt clear that he was dragging this out to reach a page limit, with the best chapters being the ones most disconnected from the overall premise.

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This next choice may hurt some people: The Last Unicorn. I am a lover of all things fantasy—especially fantasy video games and novels—and this is one of the most important books in the genre. I am grateful for its impact, but perhaps I read it too late to feel the same magic as so many others. Once again, the prose felt young, which is strange considering that the paperback is recommended for ages 18 and up. I did enjoy my time reading The Last Unicorn, but the book left my brain somewhat thereafter. I think I read too many good books this school year that this was just an “alright” read.

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Okay, this one pains me a bit. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. I cannot express my adoration for the works of Ishiguro. This man quickly became my favorite author following my devouring of a certain novel, but this one isn’t it. Perhaps I ruined my experience with literature by starting his works with the book that is now my all-time favorite, but—as a result—this one feels like an imitation. It is still great because it is Ishiguro, but in comparison, it has some prevalent flaws and weaknesses. But, Ishiguro still proves his well-earned label of “Master of Self-Reflection” (a nickname I gave him) with this novel.

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Once again, another classic making its way onto the list, that being Animal Farm. It was actually my first time reading Orwell, so I was pretty excited. For a book so many view as “for kids,” I didn’t feel the same “oh, this prose is young” sentiment as I did with some of the aforementioned books. As someone involved in the world of politics. Orwell is a name brought up constantly, whether in reference to 1984 or Animal Farm, so I feel somewhat more accomplished now that I have actually read his book and understand his points, perhaps even more than some who mention his books do…

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This ranking feels a bit strange since this book is so different in comparison to the others. I read New Handbook for a Post-Roe America which is more analytical and full of facts and resources as opposed to an emotional response to the overturning of Roe V. Wade. The information is incredibly useful and I would recommend it to anyone curious about the way reproductive rights in the United States may be going, but it is not a narrative nor thoughts on the matter. Like I said, this is a book that feels hard to rank.

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Huh, now I am realizing that I have read quite a few classics. Their Eyes Were Watching God was a great character study and time piece. The juxtaposition of the prose and the way the characters spoke was such incredible work by Zora Neale Hurston, fully immersing the reader in the brain of the main character as well as the world she is living in. To any curious about works from the Harlem Renaissance and how they have impacted that world today, this is a great starting place. 

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Another short story on the list: Nipponia Nippon. The summary was intriguing off the bat, some dude’s descent into madness? I’m there. It proved to be far more interesting, giving the reader an insight into the mind of the protagonist as he falls victim to the harmful beliefs of inceldom and what it leads him to do. It’s chilling, because it’s so real, which is the scariest part. I recently discovered that the author, Kazushige Abe, is married to Mieko Kawakami, the author of Breasts and Eggs, which I have seen go somewhat viral! Cool!

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Here’s a book I have also seen mentioned very frequently following a rather awful speech from some kicker, The Handmaid’s Tale. The fact that this book seems to trend every few months or so is a bit terrifying but also great to see because it truly is such a great book. Once again, because it feels real. Margaret Atwood visualized and built a dystopian society that borders on future and past, on implausible and possible. The book fully explores the way Gilead functions, shocking the reader yet also making them reflect on the society they are living in. It’s not about some resistance, it’s about the day-to-day reality, which feels infinitely more harrowing.

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Top five! Truly, so many of these past books could be ranked higher, but I suppose I was just lucky in what I read, so I am going purely off of vibes at the moment. 

Trevor Noah Born a Crime tells his early life story of growing up as a biracial child in apartheid South Africa. He balances humor and heartbreak, allowing the reader into a time that many wish to forget or sweep on the rug, but we cannot look away. It is necessary, and I also recommend it as a way to explore the depths of a mother’s love for her children. Warning, though, you may shed a few tears.

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Time for another Ishiguro! The Remains of the Day is the most grounded of the three books of his I have read, which is another area where he shines. Humanity and all of the difficulties it entails, no one does it better. (In my opinion, at least.) Self reflection, realization, nostalgia, it’s all here. I just happen to think that one other book of his does it better…

3-

This was a book I randomly picked up from a table at Barnes and Noble and thought, “this sounds good, I like Irish history, I was there not too long ago.” I am quite neutral on romance, so I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed this book. I recommend having some knowledge of The Troubles, the backdrop of this story. I was drawn into the relationships explored in this novel, exploring the intricacies of religion, loyalties, resistance, and love. This may be somewhat specific, but you know when you think something will happen in a book and it eventually does but you’re still shocked? I hope that intrigues you enough to check trespasses out!

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No book has been as inspiring as The Alchemist. I felt a wave of creativity and motivation wash over me following the conclusion of this novel. I was near giddy and smiling as I turned every page. The story of a young man discovering his life calling and actually accomplishing it goes beyond words on a page and seeps into the reader, it did with me, at least. I can only assume that was Paulo Coelho’s intention in writing this book, and he more than succeeded. 

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Here we go.

Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go is the greatest book I have ever read.

All of his aforementioned positives combine in this book with one of the most interesting backdrops created that keeps you turning the page. I practically inhaled this books. I needed to finish it as if was a breath I needed to take, some human necessity. I almost don’t want to say anything else because I can only implore you to read this masterpiece, so I won’t. Please, just give this book a shot.

Eliza Disbrow

Washington '26

Eliza Disbrow is a sophomore at the University of Washington with a plan to major in European Studies with a double minor in Spanish and business. Eliza is a writer, covering a variety of topics, from music, to books, to anime. Beyond Her Campus, Eliza serves as the co-vice president of the University of Washington Euro Club. In her free time, Eliza can be seen taking in the sights of Seattle on any of the available forms of public transportation, normally with a book in hand and headphones in her ears. She plays guitar and bass, mainly as an excuse to play either Fall Out Boy or Ghost to family and friends.