the book look

A disclaimer: my “favorite reads” list should more accurately be labelled as “Top 1,000 books.”

While I’m holed up in the library finding the next 1,000, enjoy a top-ten list of some of my favorites. They are not numbered because “Midterms Week” is stressful enough without making me rank my favorite children — I mean, books.

“Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling.

I am always down for any series that involves a hippogriff, the Weasleys, or any magic that allows me to summon my computer charger without having to get out of bed. Not only is Rowling’s series incredibly written, it also invented a school that, shockingly, every child would be excited to go to everyday. We will not speak of “Harry Potter and The Cursed Child.”

“Secret Society Girl” series by Diana Peterfreund

Ever wanted to join a secret society? In the “Secret Society” series, Peterfreund gives readers the experience through the eyes of wry and overly sarcastic college student, Amy Haskel, an upperclassmen at Eli, a Yale-inspired fictional Ivy League university. Come for the relatable collegiate experience, stay for the pomegranate cocktails and underground tomb.

“Sweetbitter” by Stephanie Danler

It was recently announced that Danler’s novel about a post-graduate working at a high-end restaurant will be adapted for television by Starz. Though I’ll still watch the show, the book’s interesting narrative style and lush descriptions of food inspired me to a) raid my kitchen and b) try out other food-focused books, like Gabrielle Hamilton’s “Prune” and Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential.”

“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” by Barbara Robinson

If we’re going by how many times I’ve read a book, Robinson’s 1971 classic should be way higher up on the list. Even if you’re the Grinch, her tale of the town delinquents taking over the church Christmas pageant will put you in the most tinsel-strewing, carol-screeching of moods, no matter how old you are. Reading it on Christmas Eve is required; this is not a suggestion.

“How to Build A Girl” by Caitlin Moran

Despite my slight literary-obsession with British author, screenwriter, journalist and badass Moran, I hadn’t heard of her at all until a few years ago, when her novel of an impoverished, ambitious, working-class teenage music journalist was getting strong reviews from publications all over the place. Her characters are easily relatable and she has a wonderfully wacky self-deprecating style.

“Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell

While scrolling online a few years ago, I originally stopped at the book-cover of Rowell’s “Fangirl” because I thought someone had taken my life and translated it into a drawing of her main character Cath – a brunette with glasses, a writer and an introvert. Take away her roommate’s cute, always-around ex-boyfriend and replace “fanfiction” with “journalism,” and Rowell has still creepily accurately catalogued pretty much all of my college career (sitting with a laptop writing something and avoiding eye contact). Maybe she can use her word magic to make me better at math?


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“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood

This is the best book ever. You should read it. This is all I can say about Atwood’s politically-relevant dystopian masterpiece without devolving into babbling and weeping about how I met her once and got her to sign one of my three copies. Yes, I am that person.

“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coehlo

I chose to read this for my English class based on a Goodreads quote I’d found a few months before. I read it in one day while getting sunburned on the deck and wishing that I was traveling the desert with Santiago and searching for treasure. Coehlo turns a hunt for treasure into a philosophical quest for self-realization, and makes it really, really good.

“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë

I attempted to read this for the first time in sixth grade, and called Charlotte Brontë’s narrator “Jane Erie” for the next three months. In ninth grade, I was the only person in English class who actually knew what happened in specific chapters (or in the class) while I was reading it during study hall until the covers grew soft. If anyone needs a searingly dramatic reading of Jane’s total takedown of vapid rich-girl beauty queen Blanche Ingram, I have been waiting to give it from memory for five years. No, I’m not kidding.

“Now I See You” by Nicole Kear

Rather than let a surprise diagnosis of retinitis pigmentosa (and oncoming blindness) derail her, author Kear falls in love, almost falls out a window and falls “in like” with seeing the world before her vision deteriorates further. Despite her extraordinary circumstances, Kear has a gift for witty writing and an ability to make even the worst situation funny.

“Modern Lovers” by Emma Straub

As she did so well in her earlier book, “The Vacationers,” Straub is great at taking a large group of people and showing all of their individual feelings, motivations, desires and secrets against a backdrop of some wealthy locale. Your favorite character will change but probably land on Iggy Pop, the cat.


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