Somewhat recently I mentioned on an Instagram post that I’ve spent a lot of my time this summer curled up on the couch with my nose in a book. This is just one corner of what my very own personal heaven looks like, but for those of you that might not know.. I’ve been a bookworm my entire life (for the most part). It breaks my heart when I go back to college and don’t pick up a single book for approximately 8 months straight, but I’m so happy to have been able to get right back into it as though nothing was ever amiss and FINALLY bring to y’all a ‘Must Reads’ list courtesy of yours truly.
**Spoiler Alert: You may notice a theme here though.. Dystopian/Fantasy worlds are my favorite but I still tried to include a little something for everyone!
1. The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey
After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.
Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother-or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.
Okay I wish I could say this is the ‘One That Started It All’ in terms of my book reading obsession (which is somewhat true, but totally not at the same time.. Fun fact: I have to give that book reading obsession credit to my childhood favorites–Miss Junie B. Jones and A Series of Unfortunate Events)!
That being said, this book really catapulted me into the world of reading more than just mindless romances shamelessly in the middle of my high school classes.
First things first.. I love a good alien inspired story woven into a love interest and finished with a post apocalyptic cherry on top and this satisfies it all. I promise that you’ll be dying to read the rest of the books in this series after this page turning goodness gets set up. You might also be left thinking.. ‘Man, what if this is too outrageous to be made up.. like this is totally going to happen and I should probably start training now’. Or maybe that’s just me?? The jury is still out on that one (:
2. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
This is a world divided by blood – red or silver. The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change. That is until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power. Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime. But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.
This series is probably top 3 for me. I loved Mare and loved even more the Calore brothers. I found myself torn between them throughout the entire series and always dying for the next book to be released after each cliff hanger. Lucky for you guys, if you haven’t read this series yet, all four of the books have been released and you won’t be waiting in agony to find out just how this story ends. There’s action, romance, and power, rebellion, and heart woven throughout each page and I would without a doubt tell you to pick this one up if you are interested in dystopian stories!
3. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …
Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.
Definitely another one that would make it into my top 3 series! Let me tell y’all I ate this series up this summer, like seriously tearing through page after page because I was so invested in the characters as well as the adventure that was always unfolding before me.
Despite the first book of the series fulfilling the category of cute romance most likely inspired by Beauty and the Beast, there is so much more to these! I actually never knew completely what was going to happen and I loved Feyre with my whole heart.
I would categorize this story more along the lines of fantasy and would encourage anyone who thinks it might be lame because it’s about faeries to put those prejudices aside and do yourself a favor and just sit down for an afternoon with it.. you’ll never go back, I promise.
4. Legend by Marie Lu
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.
From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.
Okay so being totally honest, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve read this series so I know I’m not remembering all of the details but when I was looking at my bookshelf, I just couldn’t ignore this one. I know I was so into these one of the summers while I was still in high school and finishing them within like two days (for me, that’s pretty good). Not only that, but I’ve actually been able to meet Marie Lu and she is just the sweetest human.
She creates amazing worlds and even better stories with real, thought-provoking, agendas. Plus I think this one is perfect for anyone! Boy or girl, teen or adult, I think anyone could enjoy this series while also falling in love with the country’s most wanted criminal, Day.
5. The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.
Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who have escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.
So if you couldn’t tell by now, I love a good story with some characters that just so happen to have some type of ‘power’ and this series is no exception. It’s a generation of kids gifted with abilities versus those trying to stop it. They’re demonized and isolated and the main character vows to put an end to all of the camps while forming a band of unexpected friends in the process.
I loved the characters in this one and despite the author’s style verging on too descriptive at times, the story is set up so well and the more you read, the further you get immersed in their fascinating (but cruel) world.
6. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?
Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.
Let’s take a break from all of the revolution and rebellion that is commonly associated with the dystopian books I just mentioned and bring it back down to this coming of age story.
First things first, I love Jenny Han. She’s quirky and adorable, and another author I had the pleasure of meeting! All in all, she’s awesome. And I think that her writing style is so relatable which makes flying through this series beyond easy.
I think we can all relate to those weird high school years and think back on the stupid crushes we went through and I love that this story just made me feel good in all the best ways. Lara Jean is such a special character and if you’re looking for something light to take your mind off things for a few hours, I would recommend picking this one up! You’ll feel like you’re falling in love all over again (:
7. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis. Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.
Who doesn’t love a John Green book? Pretty much nobody. Although I love each and every one of his books, this one stood out to me while reading it because it felt like I was really inside the main characters head dealing with serious issues like anxiety and OCD on a daily basis. The subjects are tough and the things that Aza thinks are sometimes difficult to read, but I could empathize with her so much and really felt her struggle (which is how I know this book is just another John Green masterpiece). If you know someone struggling with these types of things and want to better understand their perspective, I would definitely recommend picking this book up.
There is no better way to familiarize yourself with things like thought spirals after all.. I’m just glad there’s finally an accurate way to describe such things.
8. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris–until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.
But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?
Yes, if you didn’t guess, it’s a romance. I love this book because it was fun and although it pretty much sets you up for the most unreal expectations ever when it comes to how guys should actually be, it made me so happy to read. And who doesn’t love a good adventure abroad? It’s practically picture perfect. So although this story doesn’t have a lot of depth, it’s another one that’s perfect to have on hand when you just want to ‘get away’. For me, that’s when I’m mega stressed and just need a little mental vacation and this book helps me achieve that.
9. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…
But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
More than anything in life, I can relate to being a fangirl. I mean, hello? One Direction.
Also more than anything I can relate to this story. I read it during my freshman year of college and couldn’t relate more to how Cath was feeling.. I also will never forget the visual I got of her belting Kanye West lyrics while jumping on her bed because that’s actually me, but also totally beside the point.
If there’s a part of you that is struggling with the reality of going off to a new place and afraid of feeling alone, definitely give this one a go!
10. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime.”
Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir’s choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.
The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.
A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.
And to conclude this list of my top 10 must reads, I thought I’d throw in a classic, The Kite Runner. This is one of the only books I read in high school that I didn’t drag my feet on. Despite the storyline being more on the mature side of what I’m used to, it had me hooked from the first few chapters.
This book has depth but it’s a story of friendship above all else and an important one at that. If you haven’t gotten a chance to read this one yet, it’s well known for a reason and a book worth picking up today!
Let me know in the comments below what some of YOUR ‘Must Reads’ are, or if you’ve read any of these! I love getting book recommendations AND fangirling over our favorite characters (Rhysand lovers, where you at??)!
Also let me know if you’d like me to continue doing a little mini series keeping y’all up to date on what’s on my ‘To Be Read’ pile etc. etc.
Until next time,