Top five book recommendations from an avid reader


F. Nowacki

Selection of books at the Center Grove High School Library.

Abby Matthews, Staff Writer

There really is nothing better than cracking open a good book and sitting down to relax. A good book can take your mind off of all the stress of the real world and stick you in an imaginary, intriguing world. As an avid reader, I am well-versed in the world of books. This school year alone, I have read over 45 books, so I would like to share my top picks of books that I have read just this school year, as well as the honorable mentions. 

  1. “They Wish They Were Us”: This book is a murder mystery set in a prep school in Long Island. I personally like the “love-story-and-death” genre and this book falls perfectly in that sub-category. The main character, Jill, goes through a massive mindset change after seeing her friend group, “the players,” as what they truly are. This book was genuinely so relatable as a high school student because groups like “the players” basically rule every high school. I love the mystery of murder in a good book, and “They Wish They Were Us” painted the suspense, the drama and the despair perfectly. The main characters carry the heavy burden of losing someone close to them, and it creates a deep and meaningful picture of what grief can look like and how it affects the people around them. As someone who has not lost anyone close to them, the mental image and emotions that the characters experiences evoke as a reader is intense. The imagery is so vivid that every word on the page, I can easily imagine and create in my head which makes the reading so much better. The evident shift in the main characters’ mindset really made me have a lot more interest in the book as well. Jill goes from being a popular girl in the most popular group in the school, to being alone and fighting for what she believes is right. With many twists and turns throughout the entire book, it kept me on the edge of my seat and dying to read more. 
  2. “One of Us is Next”: This is the amazing sequel to “One of Us is Lying” and “Two Can Keep a Secret.” An anonymous person starts sending “Truth or Dare” messages to the students of Bayview High. The constant attacks from the anonymous texter proves that nobody is safe. The texter shows that an innocent kids’ game can become deadly and life altering. Truths ruin people’s lives and dares lead to death. As the younger siblings of the characters in “One of Us is Lying” have to navigate their own murder and scandal throughout the school, they disover some hard truths. With the randomness of the anonymous texter, you never know when or what will happen. There is newfound love throughout the book mixed with heartbreak. The romance aspect of the book makes it so much better. There are plenty of secrets and surprises that kept me captivated throughout the whole book and brings a satisfying almost fairy tale ending. The constant shifts in the perspectives of the main characters creates a different feel for the characters. You are able to better connect and understand the unique struggles of each character.  
  3. “Girls With Sharp Sticks”: The best word that I can use to describe this book is empowering. Author Suzanne Young does not shy away from describing the conditions of girls in an unjust, manipulative society that is an ode to the real world we live in. We follow a girl named Mena through a school called Innovations Academy that aims to teach girls to be the “best kind of girls.” It is very apparent that “the best kind of girls” are silent, obedient and very beautiful. The girls in the Academy have to go through etiquette lessons and ridiculously malnourishing diets, with a lot of unwarranted comments about their appearances. The girls start to become aware of the abuse that they are enduring and fight back. The obvious fight in the book regarding gender stereotypes calls out the current climate of our world and encourages girls to fight back. I love the messages that are presented throughout the book like fighting for equality and doing what you want rather than what others expect of you. Additionally, there were so many surprising turns towards the end and middle of the book that made me read the last 100 pages in less than a day. Overall, it is a great book, not only because it is written well with important messages, but also because of the great character development and storytelling. 
  4. “Monday’s Not Coming”: There are so many circulating ideas throughout this book that caused me to really take a step back and think about the world around me. The author based this book on two real-life missing kids whose cases, like in the book, were never investigated. This seemingly little detail created a more vivid and real feeling while I read the book and made everything feel more intense. The author really hits hard on the issues of poverty, race and the corrupt systems that plague America while adding in hints of the truth. There was a strong, ongoing theme of the main character describing people in color that I really enjoyed. The imagery that describes people as red or forest green made the characters much more lively and relatable. By the end of the book, I felt like I was the main character, Claudia’s, friend because I knew her and her story so well. The plot of this read is very intense and calls out some of the frameworks of society that I would not have understood prior to reading this book. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to step into the life of Claudia and her best friend Monday, the girl who goes missing, and see what mourning and trying to speak to people who won’t listen was like. The constant shifting from present to past lets you get a better look of who Monday was even though you never meet her in the present, and it also enables you to be able to see the maturity and character growth of Claudia throughout the years.
  5. “The Selection Series”: I am not usually one for a romantic, dystopian genre but these books were glued to my hands and finished within a week…I wish I was joking. It launches you into what the future might look like with castes and a royal family ruling over everyone which is a very interesting thing to think about. I love how descriptive every single book is and the constant decisions and bumps that the characters hit. There is romance with multiple suitors that secretly try to win the heart of America, who is the main character. Following America’s journey throughout the selection is truly laid out perfectly and thoughtfully. You can see how America changes and stays the same from a low caste to being at the highest possible caste. It is an interesting mix of action, adventure, romance and emotion that stirs into a heart felt book. There are so many unexpected twists that make you not want to put down any of the books, and even though there are five books in the whole series, not a single one is bad or dry. I genuinely felt like I was there watching everything play out because the author was so wonderfully descriptive. I felt attached to the characters and wanted to keep reading to follow them and their journeys. It was a wonderfully written book with a captivating plot and loveable characters and I have recommended lots of my friends to read it.

Honorable mentions: “One of Us is Lying”, “Will Grayson, Will Grayson”, “Good Girl, Bad Blood”, “The Color of Lies”, “Milk and Honey”, “Suicide Notes”, “Dear Evan Hansen”, “That’s Not What Happened”, “A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder”, the “Matched” series, “The Calculus of Change”, “ Two Can Keep a Secret” and “The Cheerleaders.”