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

These books deserve a gold star

I wasn’t allowed to watch TV growing up (my mom was a little crunchy). Although I wish I could’ve experienced the joys of Spongebob, the banning of TV in my house pushed me to become an avid reader. I spent hours reading Junie B. Jones and Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls. This love for reading is deeply ingrained in my mind and has followed me throughout my life. The following 5 books have earned a spot in my top 5 favorite books of all time, and I’ll tell you why. 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower follows teenage Charlie as he navigates his teen years. You read his story through a series of letters that Charlie is sending to someone he refers to as “friend”. Charlie writes to this anonymous figure and tells them all about his hurt, struggles, and most personal thoughts. I’m not lying when I say I cry every time I read this book (yes, I have read it multiple times). Not in an “I’m so sad” way, but in an “I feel seen” way. Chbosky perfectly describes what it feels like to be struggling on the inside but unable to articulate it or seek help. This book has a way of making you feel like Charlie’s friend, like these letters are maybe going to you. I’ve never read a book that felt so personal and real. This novel will be on my bookshelf for the rest of my life and I highly recommend adding it to yours as well. 

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing is a complex, page-turning novel about a young girl, Kya, raising herself in a marsh. It spans many years, so readers get to watch Kya grow and change throughout her childhood and into adulthood. Kya becomes a suspect in a town murder and must defend herself against an entire town that finds her freakish. The description and detail in Where the Crawdads Sing is absolutely unmatched. You will be able to imagine every plant and creature, while also becoming deeply connected to the characters you meet. As you watch the trial and mystery unfold, you will find yourself going back and forth with what even you believe to be true. It is descriptive, riveting, poetic, and surprising. It is also extremely unique and unlike anything I’ve read before. This novel is one of the most beautifully written pieces of work I have ever read and you are missing out if you haven’t picked up a copy. 

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Daisy Jones & the Six follows a famous rock band set in the 1970s. Readers get to know each character on a very deep level, as well as watch them as a band. It deals with addiction, affairs, and everyday life struggles. Jenkins Reid is one of my absolute favorite authors because she is an amazing storyteller. Daisy Jones & the Six has characters so vivid you will start to think you actually know them. The novel is unpredictable and riveting through and through. Plus, you get to see the songs from the band written out, and I spent way too much time trying to figure out their tunes by singing to myself. You will feel connected and invested in the characters and relationships and wish it didn’t have to end. 

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

I’ll be honest, this is one of the most challenging books I’ve ever read. Not just because it is a lengthy read, but because it’s a heavy one. It deals with some pretty traumatic stuff and is not a light-hearted story. It tells the stories of four men, all of who became friends in college. The story centers around Jude St. Francis, a lawyer with a dark past. Yanagihara takes readers through these mens’ lives, dealing with addiction, mental health, and abuse. You may be asking yourself, “why on earth is this one of her favorite books?” Well, my answer would be that it is one of the most honest portrayals of a human being that I’ve ever read. Yanagihara does not shy away from the tough things, she dives deep into them. Readers get to know these characters down to their core and walk alongside them through the story. You will finish this book and feel empathy for people who are struggling, and it may just even change the way you see the world. 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Alright, I know this book is old, but hear me out. Little Women is about the four March sisters: Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth. It follows them from childhood, while they all live together, into adulthood as they go their separate ways. A lot of Little Women is just about everyday life, the simple things that aren’t deemed as exciting as other things. But the way Alcott shows the mundane parts of life as some of the most important parts is beautiful and inspiring. The four sisters all face their own challenges and as a reader, you get to see them deal with and overcome these challenges. This will forever be one of my favorites because it makes its readers see the world in a beautiful way. The beauty in things that often go unappreciated, like friendship and one’s sisters. It is a simple story of family, love, and everyday hardships, but told in a beautiful way that forces you to evaluate your own life.  

Now I know reading isn’t for everyone, but trust me, you do not want to go your whole life without reading these masterpieces. Give it a shot, you might surprise yourself!

Mckenna Laurent

Wisconsin '25

Mckenna is a Junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is studying English literature. Along with being a section editor for Her Campus, she is a Senior Coordinator for the University Tutoring Service. Mckenna loves reading, baking, and watching New Girl!