Five must-reads of 2023

(Illustration by Grace Needham | Collegian Media Group)

If you are tired of watching movies but want to dive into a fictional world instead of your homework due at midnight, grab one of these books off the shelf at Target and get to reading.

“Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delila Owens 

This worldwide phenomenon is now a staple on everyone’s bookshelves. Main character, Kya Clark, is an introverted girl living in a rundown shack in the marsh. The novel takes place during Kya’s adolescent life from 1952 to 1969. She experiences abandonment by her family and is left with her Pa, who fought in World War II and turned to drinking. She struggles with loneliness thanks to her small town full of judgmental adults. 

Labeled as “The Marsh Girl,” Kya grows up alone but befriends Tate Walker, a young local fisherman. Soon enough, Tate and Kya begin a secret friendship, where he teaches her to read in an abandoned cabin by the river. A romantic relationship blossoms but after Tate leaves for college he never returns, leaving Kya heartbroken. 

When Kya is 19 she meets Chase Andrews. He immediately catches her eye but isn’t who he seems to be. Chase pressures Kya into having sex with him and tricks Kya into believing he loves her while entertaining other women. This novel will give you the urge for more by Delila Owens, and thankfully the movie on Netflix is as much of a tear-jerker as the novel. 

“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid 

This book had been on my list for months before I finally sat down and devoured it in 48 hours. The book begins with Evelyn Hugo, age 79, being interviewed by journalist Monique Grant, who has been trying to catch a break for a decade. Hugo specifically requests for Grant to write a biography about Hugo’s success in her roaring young life, and the two become closer than either of them ever thought they would. The differences between these two protagonists is mesmerizing. The book is organized in chronological order as Hugo meets her seven husbands. Between her mix of trauma and lovers, Evelyn’s secrets are revealed through the interviews with Monique. Soon enough, the reason Evelyn requests for Monique to write her biography is revealed. I hate to admit it, but I physically threw the book across the room when I read the end. It had me stunned, sobbing and immediately purchasing two other books written by Taylor Jenkins Reid. 

“The Summer I Turned Pretty” Trilogy by Jenny Han

This trilogy has recently become an Amazon Prime Original and a young adult favorite. The novels begin with Isabelle Conklin, nicknamed Belly, traveling with her mom Laurel and older brother Steven to their safe haven, Cousins Beach. Just like every college student, summer is these kids’ everything. 

Susannah Fisher is Laurel’s college best friend who owns a beautiful beach house where the group stays for the season. Susannah’s two sons, Conrad and Jeremiah, join them for the summer. The book follows a naive 16-year-old Belly and her summer adventures as she learns she isn’t just in love with Conrad but also Jeremiah. “The Summer I Turned Pretty” isn’t just about first loves, but also adult issues such as divorce and the hardships of cancer. This book is a page turner and had me craving more of this fictional universe — thank goodness for the TV show! 

“Reminders of Him” by Colleen Hoover 

Who doesn’t become entrenched in every world Colleen Hoover creates? Due to the realistic personalities of her characters and captivating plotlines, Hoover’s books are at the top of every young adult’s favorites list. 

“Reminders of Him” follows a young mother, Kenna Rowan, recently released from prison after the accidental murder of her high school boyfriend, Scotty. Kenna returns to her hometown in hopes to regain custody of her daughter and rebuild the relationships she left behind. Scotty’s parents, the Landrys, are raising her daughter. 

Enter Ledger Ward, local bar owner and coincidentally Scotty’s best friend. Kenna and Ledger befriend each other and begin a secret relationship as she attempts to restore her relationships and land on her feet to provide for her daughter. This book will pull at the heartstrings of every woman trying to find themselves in the midst of chaos and fixing their past mistakes. 

“A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J. Maas 

I have one word for these books: captivating. This series is a must re-read; I will never grow tired of Maas’ impeccable language and witty characters. This fantasy series is a bestseller you’ll love — if you can get past the number of pages. 

The series follows a female protagonist, Feyre Archeron, a 19-year-old huntress. She is kidnapped and brought to the faerie lands of Prythian after killing a faerie wolf in her non-magical homeland. Her kidnapper, Tamlin, is a High Fae and ruler of the Spring Court.

Feyre learns more about the Prythian lands, the history of magic and faeries that she wasn’t exposed to in the human lands. In addition, she falls in love with her capturer. Feyre soon finds comfort in the Spring Court and her companions until she learns of Amaranth, the High Queen of Prythian, who has taken Tamlin captive. The rest of the novel follows Feyre’s attempt to win back the man she loves. It sounds confusing and you might need a spreadsheet to keep track of the characters (yes, I did have to do that), but once you turn the last page, you’ll be reaching for your phone to order book number two.