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Getting back into Reading, and 9 novels to start with

Growing up, I was what you might call a “gifted child.” I only got straight A’s, I was in every advanced and honors course, and reading was my favorite pastime. From around 1st until 10th grade, I could almost always be found with a novel on me. I consumed books like they were essential to my wellbeing, like they were water. Then, I just suddenly stopped reading. To this day, I don’t know how or why; maybe life just became too busy, or I got bored, or I simply forgot about all the joy reading brought me. Regardless, I very suddenly went from devouring four books in a month to barely finishing four in a year.

During my freshman year of college, while working at UIC’s library, I discovered two things: I was surrounded by thousands of books begging to be read and I had a lot of time on my hands. So, I got back into reading. Slowly at first, finishing a few books a month, and by the time I was sent back home for mandatory quarantine, I was reading a couple books each week. Quarantine only allotted me more free time, and books became my escape from the chaos of the world around me. No one simply picks up reading, but if you’re looking to get back into it, right now is the best time.

First things first, if you want to make reading a hobby, you need to make it a habit. Reading daily, at around the same time, can help it become routine and help accelerate your reading speed. This will become easier the more you’re invested in the stories and characters you’re reading about. Try to read books and genres that interest you, don’t solely focus on bestsellers or well reviewed novels, if a plot sounds interesting give it a try. Challenge yourself to try out different genres and finish the things you start, you miss out on a lot of interesting reads when you’re too busy looking for “the one”. Most novels won’t capture your attention after the first line, give them time to unravel themselves, they might just surprise you.

Finishing a book is a great feeling of accomplishment paired with the bittersweet act of having to say goodbye. Being a bookworm is about more than just consuming novels, it’s also about sharing theories, shocking revelations, and future expectations with others. Bring a friend along for the ride on your literary journey, regularly discuss what you’ve been reading lately and gush about upcoming releases. Having someone to talk to gives the stories more life and makes what comes next all the more exciting. If you don’t have anyone in real life to confide in, make new friends online. Apps like YouTube, TikTok, and Likewise, all have thriving book communities that are always looking for fresh perspectives. Goodreads is a great website to connect readers with authors, other readers, recommendations, and reviews. Reading is just as much an internal activity as it is an external one.

If you don’t know where to start, utilize your local or school library. Libraries are free and extremely useful resources that can provide you with physical books, ebooks, or audio books of any and all genres. Begin reading books you’ve heard about recently, or ones that your favorite movies and TV shows are based on. Being familiar with the plot of a novel can help the process appear less daunting. If you’re really just a fish out of water, take a look at my recommendations below. Though most of my recommendations are young adult literature, their stories and themes are geared towards all audiences.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

The sudden disappearance of Lydia, James and Marylin Lee’s favorite child, causes the whole family to reexamine everything they thought they knew about both Lydia and themselves. This 2014 debut novel by Celeste Ng explores a mixed-race Chinese American family living in the 1970s. The reader is along for the ride as each family member’s secrets come to the forefront and threaten to shatter their fragile reality.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

A ragtag team of criminals turned allies band together to tackle a deadly heist that will make them richer beyond their wildest dreams. Bestselling author Leigh Bardugo continues to travel the magical world of Ravka in the Six of Crows Duology, the second fantasy-adventure series in her Grisha Universe. It’s charming characters and suspenseful plot make Six of Crows a standout in the fantasy genre.

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

From the outside, Frances is perfect, the perfect student, the perfect daughter. Yet, who she is on the inside, the girl no one sees, is anything but. So, when she meets Aled, the only person she’s able to be herself with, she’ll do everything in her power to not mess it up. Alice Oseman’s sophomore novel, published when she was only 21, embarks on a charming tale about friendship, trust, and being true to yourself.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Ever since she was a child it has been prophesied that Blue Sargent will cause her true love to die. So, when she’s mysteriously drawn to a group of strange boys, she’s determined to keep her wits about her. The Raven Boys is the first in Maggie Steifvater’s magically written contemporary-fantasy series, The Raven Cycle. Shocking twists and turns keep readers on the edge of their seats, while beautifully crafted characters make the story grounded and real.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

The once brilliant magic of Orїsha has been missing for almost as long as Zélie Adebola can remember. Just when it seems all hope is gone, fate will launch her on a treacherous mission to restore the very soul of her people. This 2018 high fantasy novel by Tomi Adeyemi excites, thrills, and leaves readers begging for more.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Victor Frankenstein, an ambitious young scientist, gets more than he bargained for when he attempts to play God by unethically creating a sapient creature. Mary Shelley’s 1818 gothic novel is a timeless classic that holds up to this day. The questioning of humanity, nature, and higher powers at the core of the novel leaves every reader with lots to contemplate.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

When April randomly stumbles upon a huge sculpture in the middle of the night and decides to document it, the instant fame she wakes up to changes her life forever. Youtuber turned bestselling author, Hank Green, explores the way online fame can affect a person in this fascinating debut novel.

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

The sudden disruption of a meteor knocking the moon closer to the earth throws the world into environmental chaos. A young survivor named Miranda, struggles to hold onto hope in her new and terrifying reality. Veteran science-fiction author Susan Beth Pfeffer shakes readers to the core with this survivalist tale that is all too real.

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

During his first-ever trip to visit his grandparents in Iran, awkward teen, Darius Kellner, unexpectedly begins to grow into his true self with the help of a new friend. Adib Khorram’s natural talent shines in this atmospheric, heartwarming debut novel.


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