In no particular order.
- Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell – I have to classify this as one of my all-time favorites. I read it at the beach, finished it on the second day (even though it’s reasonably lengthy at 448 pages), and then proceeded to reread it three times during the rest of my vacation. I brought other books I’d been meaning to read, but I did not want to leave this world or these characters. I wanted to hang out with them as long as I could and not let that feeling slip away (when you’ve found a piece of literature that understands you so thoroughly it’s creepy and invasive and fantastic all at the same time). And then two months later I bought the audiobook and listened to it while I drove 7 hours to a different beach. I award this book eleventy thousand stars.
- Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes – My mom has been begging me to read this book literally forever. She got it for me for Christmas, and since then it’s just been sitting on my nightstand being like, “WTF, why haven’t you read me yet?!” And I’d be like “I don’t know!” And it would be like, “Well come on then! Pick me up!” And I’d be like, “Idkkkkk I think I’m just gonna read Goblet of Fire for the 1,984th time instead.” But anyway, this book. It’s intense. I can’t even really say what it’s about for fear of giving away major plot points, but it’s essentially a delightfully dramatic examination of the human condition. After putting off reading it for six months for no actual reason, I demolished it in about a day and a half. The story is fantastic, though I had a few writerly issues with parts of it (for example, I thought the main characters were the only characters that were really fleshed out properly. All of the supporting characters felt like one-dimensional props, and most of them were pretty unlikable). But it gave me deep thoughts even after I was done with it, and I thought it was well worth the read and the feels.
- Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell – When I finished Fangirl, I decided it was important to read any and all of Rainbow Rowell’s brain inventions that I could get my hands on. (Stay tuned for my thoughts on Attachments, once I actually finish reading it.) Cath from Fangirl was a more comfortable, relatable person for me to inhabit than Eleanor, but Eleanor was fiercely real and badass. She is the teenage girl you won’t find portrayed on MTV or ABC Family – she’s the one nobody wants to be (unpopular, awkward, frizzy) but that everyone is. Her character and her relationships were so relatable and accurate that it made you feel queasy and sad reading it. It made you feel the same way you felt in high school when you cried over a boy in the girls’ locker room. This book is brilliant. It’s like the Anti-Twilight, which I think might be the highest compliment I can give to a book. And it’s a strange situation for me to admit as a reader – I think I loved Fangirl more, but I think Eleanor and Park is more important.
- An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green – I definitely consider myself a fan of John Green and his work in various mediums. I think his young adult novels are wonderfully honest and adult and that they are incredibly necessary additions to a genre that has a lot of vampires. I felt the same way about this book, although I enjoyed it probably the least out of his work that I’ve read (Paper Towns, Looking for Alaska, and The Fault in Our Stars). And I think that’s because it took me a while to care about what was happening to Colin and Hassan because they were overdramatic teenagers who thought the world should revolve around them. And that’s so realistic it hurts. Maybe I don’t want to admit that I was once the female Colin and Hassan. I was Lindsey Lee Wells. The characters are the embodiments of the things I don’t like to remember about myself as a teenager. (And John Green writes characters like that a lot, so I’m not sure why this book sat differently with me than the others.) But their stories managed to intrigue me after a few chapters, and I finished the book feeling positive about it.
- Stay Awake, by Dan Chaon – This story collection, like all of Dan Chaon’s work, leaves me feeling vaguely haunted, like he’s hinting at some terrible part of my past that I can’t remember. His stories leave you breathless and hanging on the edge of your seat, but also kind of wink at you and make you feel like you understand what’s really going on. They’re so confusing, emotionally, and that’s kind of what makes them fun to read (as well as linguistically impressive).
- Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix, Half Blood Prince, and The Deathly Hallows, by JK Rowling – I picked up some more favorite passages on this summer’s series read-through:
- “Neville, who appeared to have nothing more to say either, was gazing fondly at his moonlit cactus.” (OotP p. 248)
- “‘Yeah, Quirrel was a great teacher,’ said Harry loudly, ‘There was just that minor drawback of him having Lord Voldemort sticking out of the back of his head.’” (OotP, p. 317)
- “’Are you trying to weasel out of showing us any of this stuff?’ said Zacharias Smith. ‘Here’s an idea,’ said Ron loudly, before Harry could speak. ‘Why don’t you shut your mouth?’” (OotP, p. 343)
- “Two stone gargoyles flanked the staffroom door. As Harry approached, one of them croaked, ‘You should be in class, Sunny Jim.’” (OotP, p. 357)
- “From here on in, Harry, I may be as woefully wrong as Humprey Belcher, who believed the time was ripe for a cheese cauldron.” (HBP, p. 315)
- “’I hear that you met the Minister of Magic over Christmas?’ ‘Yes,’ said Harry. ‘He’s not very happy with me.’ ‘No,’ sighed Dumbledore. ‘He’s not very happy with me either. We must try not to sink beneath our anguish, Harry, but battle on.’” (HBP, p. 489)
- “The idea of a teenage Dumbledore was simply odd, like trying to imagine a stupid Hermione or a friendly Blast-Ended Skrewt.” (DH, p. 21)
- “Merlin’s beard, what is Xenophilius Lovegood wearing? He looks like an omelet.” (DH, p. 141)