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Books You Need on Your Summer Reading List

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

Summer is fastly approaching, which means school is wrapping up and the next few months will consist of relaxing, enjoying the warm weather, and maybe working a bit (or a lot). In my opinion, on the day where you have nothing but a wide open schedule, sitting down with a glass of iced tea and a good book is the perfect way to spend your free time. But it’s important to choose the right book to invest your time in, so here’s a list of books you need on your summer reading list:


1. Thirteen Reasons Why



This novel written by Jay Asher is what inspired the Netflix original series. Although the TV show does a good job of exploring the different themes and issues in the book, I still recommend taking the time to read this one. It’s fairly short and an easy read (meaning, the writing style is easy to follow, not necessarily the content). If you like Clay, then you’ll like the book, because it has a much larger focus on his character (and he’s the narrator, besides Hannah).


2. The Girl Before



If you liked The Girl on the Train, you will love this book. The non-stopping action and complex characters propel the story forward so quickly, you won’t even realize that you’ve reached the last page until you try to keep reading. The synopsis on the back doesn’t give much away about what the book is actually about—it’s one of those books that you can’t judge by the description. But I will tell you this: it really shows the interesting effects of Stockholm syndrome.


3. The Handmaid’s Tale



Although considered a classic English literature text, this is actually one of the good ones. This book depicts a dystopian world in which all women have been stripped of any rights and are defined only by their reproductive systems. Essentially, if you can’t bear children, then you are disregarded by society. With the release of the TV show, and the controversial decisions of Donald Trump regarding women’s rights, this is a must read for everyone. Consider it a cautionary tale.


4. Y: The Last Man



After taking a course on graphic novels, I will forever be a defender of this genre. For those of you who are skeptical (as I once was), give the comic form a chance and try reading Y: The Last Man. The art is magnificently detailed, and the story itself is an interesting take on the common apocalyptic theme. In this text, after the outbreak of a disease, all men die—except for one guy, Yorick, and his pet monkey. This book depicts a world taken over by the female sex, and it offers a commentary on the issues and concerns that arise in such a world. If you love a strong female lead, this is the book for you—and don’t be fooled: Yorick isn’t really that important. (ALSO, it’s being adapted into a TV series, so get reading!)


5. The Chemist



Those of you who love Stephenie Meyer, make sure to put this one on your reading list. I personally haven’t gotten the chance to read it yet, but it’s sitting on my shelf waiting for me. And don’t worry—it doesn’t involve sparkling vampires. In fact, the story is quite different from anything Meyer has written in so far as it being more realistic. So, don’t pick up this book with certain expectations, because it’s a lot different than her previous texts (Twilight, The Host).


6. Before I Fall



I’m currently reading this book, and if you’re looking for something that’s an easy page turner, this book’s for you. The story follows Samantha, a popular (mean) girl who has it all, but dies in a car accident while driving home from a party with her friends; however, there’s a twist: after she dies, she keeps reliving the day of her death, and she must piece together the reasons why. What’s interesting is that Samantha is a very unlikable character, so it’ll be interesting to see how she changes throughout the story.


7. A Thousand Splendid Suns



In my opinion, everyone should read this book. Written by Khaled Hosseini (author of The Kite Runner), A Thousand Splendid Suns depicts the lives of women in Afghanistan. Although heart wrenching and brutally sad, it is excellently written and contains two powerful, yet very different, female leads.


8. Harry Potter



Because even if you’ve read the books a hundred times or have never opened one, it is always a great idea to have the Harry Potter series on your reading list—whether it being summer, fall, winter, or spring. And if this isn’t the case… well… I’ll keep my opinions to myself.


9. The Unmasked Truth



Although written by Canadian author Kelley Armstrong, this book doesn’t align with her typical fantasy agenda. This work follows characters Riley and Max, two teens who are forced to go to therapy camp for a weekend; however, things go from bad to worse when three masked men break into the facility and hold the group hostage. Held captive by men partaking on a killing spree, Riley and Max must try to find a way to escape before they’re next—but they’ll quickly find out that not everything is as it seems, and that escape does not necessarily equal freedom.


10. Nocturnal Animals (or, Tony and Susan)



Don’t watch the movie; please, read the book! Although written by a man in his seventies, this book is fast-paced, dark, and exciting. It follows a woman named Susan, who receives a manuscript of her ex-husband’s first novel—a violent story of loss and revenge. The story-within-a-story set-up is done extremely well, and all the characters are fleshed out in such detail that you can’t help but think that they’re real people. For those of you looking for a good thriller, look no further—this is the one for you!


Happy reading, everyone! Hope you have a wonderful summer break.

Chapter Advisor for Her Campus and Junior Editor/Writer for Her Campus at Western. You can typically find me in the world of English literature.
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