Updated: Jul 23
I have always preferred reading to writing, especially since middle school. It may sound quite lonely, but my favorite memories of those years were sitting in a special corner of the school library during lunch, reading YA fantasy series like Percy Jackson and Harry Potter for the first time. I even ended up befriending the librarian! During my high school years, I continued to follow my love for reading, although life got busy and I did not read as much for leisure as for class. All this to say that I have read a number of amazing novels over the years, and I would like to share some of my favorite ones below, in no particular order.
1. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
Reading this novel transports you into a fictional world, and it is one of the most complex yet captivating books I have ever read. I must admit, however, that it took me a while to finish and fully comprehend it, but it was definitely worth it in the end. Marquez masterfully crafts a world based on magical realism and employs beautiful prose throughout the novel. It is not a novel with a singular theme or subject matter. Rather, One Hundred Years of Solitude weaves many different yet connected storylines to create a slightly intimidating yet fascinating “plot.” Although it may not be everyone’s cup of tea at first, I highly encourage checking it out!
2. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
This book was required reading for my English class, but that did not make it any less appealing of a read. In The Things They Carried, O’Brien candidly relays the experiences of the several soldiers in the Vietnam war through a series of haunting and gripping stories. The tone of the book is quite direct and the author does not hesitate to delve into some serious topics regarding war, mortality, death, guilt, and shame. Overall, it is a brilliant piece that makes you reflect on your own life and choices.
3. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
This was, again, a required reading book from my class. It, too, has become one of my favorite novels, as I find it to be a very comforting read. It’s the type of book that you can pick up anytime to find some solace. That being said, it is definitely not the most positive of stories, as it follows the life of a poor girl growing up in Brooklyn during the early 1900s. However, the brave and tenacious spirit of the main character, Francie Nolan, makes for a very interesting and inspirational story.
4. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
East of Eden is one of Steinbeck’s most popular novels, and for good reason. Although there is an underlying biblical theme, it is not conveyed in the most obvious manner, which makes the novel all the more interesting. My favorite aspect of this piece is the personalities and development of the numerous characters. I highly recommend East of Eden, as it keeps you on your toes and is simply a fascinating read.
5. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
You may have heard of the amazing book Kite Runner by Hosseini, which is perhaps his most well known piece. A Thousand Splendid Suns is an equally intriguing novel that explores the lives of two women living in Afghanistan during the dangerous and eventful 1960’s. I simply could not put this book down - it was as interesting as it was heartbreaking and poignant.
Some other great books that I have heard very highly about and would definitely like to read next include The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas and Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Márquez. I hope that this list gave you some ideas for your next reading adventure! :)