Not everyone is into reading and that’s totally valid! BUT if you want to dip your toes into the world of literature (albeit from my point of view) here are some of my favorite stand alone books in no particular order!! A majority of these have been around for a while and some might be considered classics, but they’re my favorite classics that I think are worth a read.
So here are 10 books I think offer something for everyone (in no particular order):
1. Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Some people dislike Perks because they feel it does not offer an extensive look at the secondary characters (his immediate family members are only addressed as “Charlie’s sister/father, etc…”). In my opinion, that is one of the incredible things about Chbosky’s writing. My love for this book stems from my personal relationship to it, but I have yet to meet someone who hated it. The protagonist, Charlie, takes the reader on a raw and visceral journey through high school that is filled with joy and pain, so organic that you cannot help but rejoice and mourn alongside him. Read my post, “Love Always, Charlie” for more on my personal relationship with it.
2. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
There is no book I want to shove in people’s faces more than THUG. This was the book I needed to open my eyes and fight for even greater things. The protagonist, Starr, is a firecracker with such an enormous heart, she might be overwhelming for some, but her depth is what sucked me in and made me want to reach into the page and fight with her. Angie Thomas is a phenomenal writer and her debut is a book that is forever in my head and I don’t think I’ll ever get it out — for good reason. Thomas will have you laughing your ass off on one page and choking back sobs on the next.
3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
At the end of the day, I don’t know how to explain The Night Circus. Morgenstern has this incredible and beautiful ability to entrance readers with her writing, and the magic of the Circus is so palpable you cannot help but invest in it. If you are looking for a book to appeal to your senses, this is the one. The plot is not what draws me to it, but the characters and all of the glorious sensory detail — but not like Charles Dickens where you want it to end already. Thinking about it fills me with warmth and a craving for caramel corn, ahh….
4. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
If you have read my post on The Art of Racing in the Rain, you know that my favorite philosopher is Enzo. The simplicity of this book is wonderful, but the message is so universal. Stein’s book reminded me of how powerful it is to have a voice, and it is our job to use it to spread love and invoke change for a better world. If you love dogs, I can guarantee this book will put a smile on your face — definitely some tears too… And it’s not all about race cars so don’t worry if you’re not a NASCAR fan (but if you are, you’ll have even more fun)!
5. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
One of THE BEST books I ever had to read for high school! If you haven’t heard of Agatha Christie, she is known as the “Queen of Mystery/Crime” and rightfully so. She has dozens of fantastic stories but And Then There Were None is easily my favorite. The characters are delectable and the mystery is thoroughly intriguing. It’s like playing a giant game of guess-who. And in my opinion, her mysteries tend to have satisfying ends because if you guessed “WhoDunnit” you get to have an “aha!” moment, and if you didn’t, you get to be surprised, I don’t see how you can lose!
6. Dune by Frank Herbert
Long live the king of science fiction (he’s dead but the sentiment is there). My friend Emily shoved Dune into my hands when I was in eighth grade…I did not think I could handle that. But, I did and it remains one of my favorite books and my personal benchmark for epic science fiction. Of all the books on this list, Dune is the most dense and probably difficult to grasp, but I promise it is worth it (I got my boyfriend to power through it and now he’s reading every sequel in existence!). That is another point, Dune is “technically” the first in a series of six, but it can be read as a standalone. I have only read the first 2.75. It’s a great option to introduce someone to intense sci-fi with the possibility for greater commitment. My TBR is never-ending and I was wholly satisfied with the first so I’m very content!
7. Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
The tears I cried over this book. It is so much more than a romance (and it is a mild romance, primarily fade-to-black and nothing is heavily explicit). RWaRB made me feel things in a way I haven’t felt for years. The emotional turmoil and discovery our protagonist Alex goes through is remarkable, and there is genuine growth. More than anything, Red, White, and Royal Blue is a glimpse of a future we *could* have and that alone makes my heart ache. I simply don’t have enough words for this book and I just need everyone to read it and think about how beautiful life is when we open our hearts and minds.
8. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Frankenstein is a gothic masterpiece and I love reading it every autumn season. I never knew much about the story, I (like most people) thought it was just about a reanimated monster. Frankenstein is so much more than that — and of course you realize Frankenstein is the doctor not the monster. Mary Shelley’s book is truly a masterpiece and I would highly recommend it for those enjoy philosophical content. It’s a novel that makes you reflect on life and just has such a wonderfully ~spooky~ element. Also — in my opinion: Frankenstein’s monster > Frankenstein, they’re just such an amazing character!!
9. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
This could be debatable. Personally, I don’t know if it’s my absolute favorite Jane Austen novel, but it’s definitely the most classic, and if you get confused just go watch the 2005 movie to clear things up and cry over Mr. Darcy!! Classics can be tricky to get through, and Pride & Prejudice is no exception. However, it’s a great stepping stone for the genre of classic literature because it encompasses the elegance, complexity, and humor of the genre. Not to mention having one of the most iconic enemies-to-lovers relationships in all of literature.
10. The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
It was written as a children’s book! It’s very easy to read! But it still has hobbits, and elves, and dragons, and all the majesties Middle Earth has to offer! If you’re intrigued by fantasy, The Hobbit — like Dune for science fiction — is a wonderful place to start (although The Hobbit is much more palatable than Dune for most readers). The adventure Bilbo goes on is classic and full of suspense, jovial singing, and awe-inspiring creatures and encounters. Not to mention one of my favorite dragons in literature — Smaug.
You don’t have to read any of these books, they may not be your taste, but I hope it inspires a jumping point if you’re new to the wonderful world of reading. There are so many choices out there that it can be hard to narrow down what you want to try, so my hope is that this could be a little tasting for you. Do what you will with it, and if nothing strikes your fancy, let me know! I firmly believe there is a book out there for everyone.