Oh, books! Glorious books! Is there anything better than ignoring your cell phone while escaping into an entirely different world for a few hours? If your year-long resolution is to step up your reading game, then you’re in luck because we’ve compiled the ultimate reading list just for you. Enjoy!
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1. “Before I Fall,” by Lauren Oliver (2010)
“Before I Fall” is a page-turning first-person narrative you’ll want to devour in one sitting. Samantha Kingston has it all: the perfect friends, the perfect guy, and a seemingly perfect future. Then, everything changes. After one fateful night, Sam wakes up with no future at all. Trapped reliving the same day over and over, she begins to question just how perfect her life really was. And as she begins to untangle the mystery of a life suddenly derailed, she must also unwind the secrets of the people closest to her, and discover the power of a single day to make a difference, not just in her own life, but in the lives of those around her–before she runs out of time for good. You’ll want to binge read this quickly since the movie, which looks incredible, comes out this March.
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2. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky (1999)
A rare and at times all too real portrayal of high school, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” is required reading for anyone who has felt lonely, misunderstood, or has survived (or is in the process of surviving) high school. It somehow manages to capture the pain that is adolescence and the pure joy of simply being young and alive. “And in that moment, I swear we were infinite,” will become a feeling you treasure, chase, and savor forever after reading this ode to coming of age.
3. “To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee (1960)
While you most likely read this in school, this timeless classic is worth another read. The novel, which takes on lofty issues such as the loss of innocence and racial inequality, becomes even more devastating and enlightening once you’ve aged a few years and can now make parallels to our current world. Atticus will forever be the wisest fictional father, the one you turn to when you’ve lost your moral compass, and Scout will forever be your younger self, frozen in that moment where the bliss of your innocence is being slowly peeled away. And oh, the wit! It still keeps you laughing on the fourth read. So with that, “Pass the damn ham, please.”
4. “Prep,” by Curtis Sittenfeld (2005)
“Prep” follows the intelligent 14-year-old Lee Fiora as she leaves her small town life in Indiana for a prestigious boarding school in Massachusetts. At first, Lee is just an observer of her new jaded and wealthy classmates, but she soon is swept up in their cruel world. This novel nails all-consuming crushes, those clicky girls, and the pain of feeling utterly out of place.
5. “The Outsiders,” by S.E. Hinton (1967)
S.E. Hinton started writing “The Outsiders” when she was just 15-years-old. The coming of age novel centers on two rival gangs, The Greasers and The Socs (short for socials), divided by their socioeconomic status. Hinton’s publisher recommended she go by her initials as opposed to her feminine name (Susan Eloise) so the first male critics wouldn’t dismiss her novel simply because she was female. She’s been writing under S.E. Hinton ever since.
6. “I Am Charlotte Simmons,” by Tom Wolfe (2004)
A must read for anyone who is soon heading off to college, “I Am Charlotte Simmons,” follows a small town girl, Charlotte, as she finds herself immersed in a Harvard type Ivy League university. Although brilliant, Charlotte falls for trust fund, frat bro, Hoyt Thorpe, and her decision to pursue her relationship with him will change her life forever.
7. “The Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger (1951)
This coming of age novel was first slammed by critics when it was originally published in 1951 but has now become the staple lost and lonesome journey every teen must read. “The Catcher in The Rye,” which still sells about 1 million copies a year, follows Holden Caufield as he drags us through New York City, his struggle with identity, and what connection really means after his expulsion from his exclusive private school. If you haven’t read this, order it now before you become just an “old phony” too.
I know I’m cheating here by giving you a two for one, but can you really have Tina without Amy? Both these poignant memoirs are packed with personal anecdotes which in turn deliver beyond stellar advice on navigating relationships, career, and confidence. Oh, and they’re REALLY funny. But you already knew that.
9. “The Great Gatsby,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
Oh, the roaring twenties! Fitzgerald’s classic American novel sweeps us up into millionaire Jay Gatsby’s obsession for the beautiful and married Daisy Buchanan. While the prose fills your head with bright party lights, flowing champagne, and glamorous dresses, it also features our favorite slyly feminist literary character: “…And I hope she’ll be a fool–that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool,” Daisy comments after weeping when told she had given birth to a girl.
10. “Wild,” by Cheryl Strayed (2012)
While you may know “Wild” from its Reese Witherspoon film adaptation or its Gilmore Girls hat tip, the actual memoir is breathtakingly beautiful. I’m not being hyperbolic when I use “breathtakingly” either; these prose will literally take your breath away at times as you watch a young, utterly lost woman learn what grief is and how to conquer it. It’s a flesh wound at its beginning and a humbling beautifully healed scar at its end.
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