Our Top Ten Favorite Reads

By Sarah and Anna

Both of us love to read (almost) as much as we enjoy writing. As kids, we recall memories of snuggling into the couch, reading our treasured Harry Potter and The Mother-Daughter Book Club series. While screens and social media can lure us away from authentic book-reading, there is something special about the signature book smell and the motion of turning a page. Books draw us into a different dimension, letting us forget our daily qualms and shifting our attention to the words on the page. Whether that dimension is fantasy or non-fiction or anywhere in between, there is something so spectacular about reading itself. Here are a few of our favorite books of different genres that we recommend you read, no matter your age or circumstance. 

Sarah’s Picks

  1. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall (Lauren Oliver) — This novel uncovers the story of popular high school senior Samantha, her friends, a party, and a car crash. Beneath the surface, the novel analyzes the legacy one leaves behind, the complex nature of the high school experience, and mental health. This is a thought-provoking (and, in my opinion, essential) read for high schoolers that allows for self-reflection and the recognition of jarring life lessons.

2. How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

This non-fiction book is a detailed explanation of the importance of antiracism in today’s society. I would personally describe it as informative, emphatic, and life-changing. Widespread reading of this book and applying the lessons it shares can help to create a less prejudiced and oppressive society. The author himself is self-reflecting and critical, creating a raw and genuine reading experience. 

3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

This wildly popular novel, depicted on the screen several times, is one of my all-time favorites. The “complicated,” as I used to call it, or old-fashioned language creates a classic story for any time period. I recall staying up late, reading the book beneath the covers to uncover the story of Elizabeth Bennett. It’s a tale of jealousy, life, and love that anyone could enjoy, transporting us to a riveting time period.

4. Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Lauren Hillenbrand

Growing up, I seldom strayed from works of fiction until reading Seabiscuit. Yes, it is about a racehorse in the 1930s, and yes, it is one of the most interesting books that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. The author creates a riveting account of the true story of Seabiscuit, a talented thoroughbred that changed a nation and revolutionized a sport. I was literally on the edge of my seat whilst reading about the races themselves, which the author describes in thrilling and captivating detail. 

5. My Lady Jane by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows

After her marriage to Guildford Dudley, Lady Jane Grey was the Queen of England for approximately nine days before her beheading… or so we thought. As a lover of history, this (somewhat historically accurate, somewhat fantastical) retelling of this story is riveting and hilarious. Taking a more positive spin on a melancholy series of events, the book was a quick page-turner and lastingly satisfying. The reader will close the book with a greater appreciation for this infamously tumultuous period in history for England and its prime figures.

Anna’s Picks

  1. Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Wonder made my love for reading skyrocket. I read Wonder at a fairly young age, and the gripping and emotional pages completely opened my eyes to the struggles many endure everyday. This book is about a young boy, Auggie, growing up in school with a disability. He is severely bullied throughout his years in school, and he faces a huge amount of difficult situations. At a young age, I had always heard about bullying through my school, but I never realized how horrible and harmful it could be in some situations. This book taught me so much about accepting others and loving everyone, while also being entertaining and enjoyable to read.

2. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

The Unexpected Everything is about a teenage girl with a long, uneventful summer ahead of her. During the book Andie growns a strong relationship with her dad, despite their many ups and downs, and spends a lot of time hanging out with friends and walking dogs. Her life is beginning to feel perfect, but drama comes flying at Andie and she has trouble sorting it all out. This book was hard to put down and so enjoyable and funny to read.

3. Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

This is a meaningful book about a girl named Ha who moves from Vietnam to America on a boat in about 1975. Ha is severely bullied in America due to the fact that she can’t speak English well. The book is written in verses, and informs the reader about what is happening outside of America in an intriguing way.

4. One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us is Lying, by Karen M. McManus, covers the life of four teenagers in high school who are suspects in a murder. These four students were all in detention in a room on the day of their classmate’s death. These students are all being investigated and working together, while trying their best to keep their biggest secrets from coming out.

5. Sisters, Ghosts, Drama, Smile, & Guts — all by Raina Telgemeier

These are four graphic novels by Raina Telegmeir that I have read countless times. Growing up I loved reading graphic novels, especially Raina’s. I really connected to the characters in these books (especially the younger sister in Sisters!) and enjoyed reading these books over and over again.

So here are our top ten favorite books (five each), encompassing our favorite genres, stories, and authors. We have included links to purchase each of these books beneath the pictures, and we hope you decide to give them a try.

Given the current pandemic, travel is especially difficult. We recommend stepping over to your bookshelf, opening a page, and transporting yourself into the world of the story. As Jhumpa Lahiri once said, “That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.”

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