It’s just over halfway through the semester, and I am sure we are all tired of the hours of reading textbook after textbook. According to an American Psychological Association study, over 80% of teenagers do not read for pleasure.
Other forms of relaxation have been overlooked for the leisurely use of digital technology. Reading for pleasure has many benefits such as increased empathy and reduced depression symptoms, according to The Reading Agency.
It seems much easier to scroll through a TikTok page that is catering toward your interests than to take time to figure out what book is best to read in your free time. Part of the problem is that we find ourselves overwhelmed with academic reading. As fun as “Fundamentals of Calculus” and “Worlds Together, Worlds Apart” sound, I think that we are all due for some new content.
There are so many genres of books to explore that will help to clear your mind of all that jumbled textbook jargon. During my three months on campus, I have read several books between reading textbooks and writing analysis essays. Here is a list of books honestly reviewed and compiled for your convenience.
“Circe” — Madeline Miller
This book is based around the sorceress Circe from Greek mythology. The plot follows her upbringing and then a myriad of myths told from the perspective of Circe. Through the different myths, readers are able to feel the emotions of Circe as she is emotionally manipulated by others.
I found this story to be a fresh adaptation of some of my favorite mythology. Her perspective of how she is used and viewed in the myths are interesting enough to keep your focus for the whole novel. The novel is pretty upsetting and follows themes of sexism and unwantedness.
Nonetheless, the novel does revolve around a theme of self-love and developing ways to heal oneself. It is a good read for any fan of mythology or someone looking for a strong female lead character.
“Verity” — Colleen Hoover
This thriller novel kept me engaged throughout the entirety of the plot. Hoover writes of a struggling writer, Lowen, who accepts a job finishing the famous series of an incapacitated author, Verity. Lowen moves into the author’s home with Verity’s husband and child as she does research for the book. As she digs through Verity’s office, Lowen comes across an autobiography that was never meant to be read.
This book has it all — love, lies and a murderous dead wife. I read this book in a seven-hour sitting. It had me hooked from the beginning. While in hindsight, the plot is slightly predictable, I was still enthralled by the story enough that I found it compelling, nonetheless.
There are a few plot holes if you look closely, but I think overall this book did a good job building the plot. Hoover does a great job of adding twists and turns. The book has an ambiguous ending, leaving room for debate and dark interpretation.
“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” — Taylor Jenkins Reid
Evelyn Hugo had seven husbands, but who was the love of her life? This book destroyed me in all the best ways. It is an LGBT romance novel that takes place in old Hollywood. The mysterious and iconic Hollywood actor, Evelyn Hugo, accounts the truth about her life for an autobiography to be written by a journalist with a dead-end career. The journalist soon learns that her life is intertwined with Evelyn’s in terrible ways.
This book follows the sad truths of Hollywood. Evelyn recounts underage sexual acts, hidden abuse and a forbidden love as she became a beloved household name. The book sections each stage of her life through which husband she was with at the time.
The plot is heavily character driven. Evelyn’s narcissistic mind can be a lot to sort through in a single read. However, I still believe this to be one of the greatest books that I have read recently. Prepare yourself for tears.
“The Hazel Wood” — Melissa Albert
The story follows 17-year-old Alice
as her mother disappears following her grandmother’s death. Her grandmother was the reclusive author of an extremely rare book of dark fairy tales. Her mother seems to have been taken by the Hinterland, a group from her grandmother’s books. She teams up with a fan of her grandmother’s cult-like work in order to find her mother.
As the story develops, Alice finds that her own story is intertwined with that in the land of Hazel Wood. This dark take on fairy tales is another book that kept me completely engaged the whole time. I stayed up until 4 a.m. to read it in one sitting. The twists in this story are easy enough to follow and interesting enough to keep your attention.
However, Albert does a lot of world-building that can be hard to follow. I personally find it difficult to visualize worlds, but nevertheless, I enjoyed the novel’s story.
“Twilight” — Stephenie Meyer
I know, I know. Twilight has a list of problems that go on and on. However, the movie’s recent release on Netflix as well as the general stress of college has led me back to the classic vampire novel. Meyer writes about Bella as she navigates difficulty in her love affair with a vampire.
This novel is polarizing. For example, Meyer uses a subpar and underdeveloped writing style which can make the story less engaging. While I cannot disagree with that, I do find rereading a chapter of the book occasionally makes me feel better.
The nostalgic element of the novel is what sells this book for me. After reading the book, maybe then you can reward yourself by watching the movies again, too.
These are just a few of the books that I highly recommend. Hopefully, you are able to find one of these novels suitable for emptying your brain of whatever textbook passage you were assigned. Be sure to check them out online, in the library or buy them wherever you buy books.
If you enjoy any of the books on this list, let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Share your recommendations with us for upcoming editions.