“I wish I read more.”
“I used to read so much and I really want to get back into it.”
These are sentences I hear all too often whenever I tell someone that I often spend my free time in the company of a book. Reading, for me, is a priority, even when I have a million other things going on – I always make sure I find some chunk of time during the day to read at least a few chapters of whatever book currently has my attention. As a result, I’ve read a decent number of books (over 100 each year for the past few years, if you’re a numbers person). I’ve read books that have blown my mind, books that I never want to look at again and pretty much everything in between. So, if you’re someone who’s lost the reading habit but wants to take it up again (or never had it in the first place), here are four books that you won’t be able to put down.
- The Song of Achilles & Circe by Madeline Miller
Did reading Percy Jackson as a kid instill in you an everlasting fascination with Greek mythology? I’ve never read any Rick Riordan books (I tried to start the first Percy Jackson book four separate times when I was younger and could never get into it), but I still loved these new retellings of classic Greek myths by Brown University professor Madeline Miller. The Song of Achilles tells the story of the Trojan War from the perspective of Patroclus, a close “friend” (read: lover) of Achilles; Circe expands on the very limited information throughout Greek mythology that exists about a daughter of Helios who’s mysteriously referred to as a witch in The Odyssey.
Greek mythology almost always centers around straight men, so it was refreshing to see a woman and a gay man take center stage in these books. Both are gorgeously written and will make you feel like you’ve actually traveled back to Ancient Greece. Miller’s descriptions are so vivid and her characters so three-dimensional that you won’t be able to help falling in love with everything about these stories (which may end up hurting you, but no spoilers 😉).I grouped these two together because they’re by the same author, but you can read either or both. Technically, The Song of Achilles comes first, but if the Trojan War isn’t your style, you can read Circe without missing anything.
2. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Ah, there’s nothing like a book set amidst the glitz and glamor of 1960s Hollywood for a story full of gossip and scandal. That’s far from all this story is, though – while an aura of mystery and consecutive shocking revelations keep you hooked until the last page, at its core, this book is a detailed portrait of a movie star. Evelyn Hugo is an ambitious underdog – as an audience member reading from her perspective, you can’t help but root for her even as her many flaws become apparent. Reading this book almost feels like reading a gossip magazine. It’s tone perfectly toes the line between light/sensational and grave as Reid delves into serious and complex discussions throughout the story.
I stayed up late and read this book in under 24 hours at the beginning of last year. I’m really not kidding when I say this book is addictive, and you simply won’t be able to put it down.
3. Vicious & Vengeful (Villains series) by V.E. Schwab
Are you tired of the same old superhero storyline that movies can never seem to escape? Well let me introduce you to Victor and Eli, two pretty terrible people who will endlessly fascinate you and maybe even capture a piece of your heart. This series is very aptly named – there isn’t a single character in either of the books that can be described purely as “good.” Pretty much everyone is a morally gray character at best, with many falling into the “very, very evil” category. The villains are the protagonists in these books, and let me tell you, it makes for a dark, twisted but very interesting tale that will utterly captivate you. A quick note – this is a series, but Schwab wrote it so that you can stop anytime. In other words, if you read Vicious and feel you’ve had enough, there’s no cliffhanger agony or sense of incompletion in the story. That being said, Vengeful is even more epic and fun to read than its predecessor, and I can’t recommend it enough.
4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Hate U Give came out on February 28, 2017 and has been on the The New York Times Best Seller list ever since (it just broke 154 weeks on the list). In case that’s not enough to convince you to immediately go buy or borrow this book, I’ll tell you this – it deserves every bit of the hype it’s gotten in the past three years. This book is an ode to the Black Lives Matter movement and everything it stands for, showcasing just how deeply police brutality can affect an individual and a community. Although this book can be tragic and demoralizing, Thomas maintains a hopeful tone throughout the story, making readers feel the main character Starr’s anger and the injustice of her situation while also inspired to take action. Thomas’ ability to write complex, realistic characters is unparalleled and truly makes this book the masterpiece that it is. In essence, everything about this story is simply phenomenal and not to be missed.
If you’re not a book person, though, this book was made into a movie that’s actually a pretty decent adaptation. You should still read it, though – the book is always better.
And that’s it! Hopefully you’ve found a book (or four) that piqued your interest and might just be your gateway into getting back into reading.