A Summer of Books

Grace Fong, Special Features Editor

On one crisp fall day of  November of 2020, after spending four consecutive hours on TikTok, I mustered my courage and deleted the app. I declared my freedom and was feeling very independent, so I decided from that moment on, I would spend my time on more productive activities. The next day, I did not know what to do with myself. I sat on the couch for a few minutes, I played competitive typing games for a few hours, and started watercoloring for a while as well. Finally, I reminisced about the times when I would spend hours in the bathroom, in the car, or wherever I was reading for enjoyment. Hence, my journey of reading began once again. 

Over this past school year, I’ve read around twenty novels, not including those required for my classes. Some were light and fun; others invited critical thinking. This summer, if you’re looking for a technology free activity, here are five novels I picked up and couldn’t put down. 

One of the top novels I have read this year is The Secret Place by Tana French. The Secret Place untangles a murder that occured in a boarding school full of teenage girls. I have read three of Tana French’s novels; however, I found The Secret Place to be the most intriguing because I was able to relate to the characters who were my age and connect with some of the ideas and beliefs they had. This mystery novel has increasingly fast pacing that will keep you up all night wondering who did what and what will occur next if you don’t finish it all in one sitting. 

Another mystery novel that kept me up all night was The Woman In Cabin Ten. This is the perfect novel for those sleepless nights when you don’t have anything better to do than to look at your Snapchat memories from four years ago. This novel takes place on a cruise ship, where a journalist discovers a murder of a girl whom no other passengers or staff acknowledge. As the trip progresses, the journalist is determined to solve the mystery by her own means. Although the novel was 340  pages, I read it in less than two weekdays because each chapter was its own cliffhanger. If you are the type to have restless evenings, this book is guaranteed to get you through them. 

Another novel I recommend for a leisurely and more sentimental read is I had that Same Dream Again by Yoru Sumino. Yoru Sumino is one of my top authors; her novels always either make me extremely satisfied or leave me empty at the end. The novel I had That Same Dream Again follows the life of an elementary school outcast, Koyangi San, and portrays how she changes the course of her life. The ending of this slice-of-life novel will leave you with a sense of a proud motherly affection over Koyangi San when you read how she grows from a child into an adult. 

I Want To Eat Your Pancreas is a fantastic novel that you might want to consider reading if you would rather read a romance instead of experiencing one. I found this novel by Yoru Sumino to be more original than most romance novels. While Sumino’s tropes and themes may seem familiar to romance readers, he utilizes these cliché plots to create an entirely new story different from previous cliché romances. One of the main themes in I Want To Eat Your Pancreas is fate; however, unlike most romance novels which focus on how fate determines a love story, I Want To Eat Your Pancreas focuses mostly on how fate is nonexistent. Personally, I feel that romance novels can be the hardest novels to write well because most romance plots are just reused time and time again, so at first when I started reading this, I was very dubious. However, this novel turned out to be heartwarming and heart-wrenching at the same time, leaving me with conflicting feelings. 

If you are looking for a darker and more depressing read, I recommend Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Most of you have probably seen or at least heard of the Netflix series Thirteen Reasons Why that came out in 2016. After five years, I finally gave this series a try and absolutely loved it, so the logical conclusion after finishing the series was to compare it to the novel. I had high expectations for the novel because of the series, and the novel did not disappoint. The first season of the Netflix series is solely based on the novel; however, there are little tweaks here and there made by the director. Reading this novel really portrayed how society can impact a young teenage girl, and how people around you can change your life in the smallest ways. Following the protagonist, Clay Jensen, this novel will take you on an emotional journey that will open your eyes to being more mindful of others. 

This summer, I urge you not to spend every moment of your time learning TikTok dances or rewatching Avatar the Last Airbender for the 15th time. Make this summer the summer you can look back on and remember how fulfilling it was to pick up a physical novel and use your imagination to create a movie inside your mind. Hopefully, these five recommendations will get you started on a journey to reading enjoyably.