Every year I make a strong attempt at sticking through with my New Year’s resolutions, but I always fizzle out six months in. Surprisingly, however, 2023 was the year of following through!
As a literature fanatic, I noticed how I put a lot of emphasis on writing in the past three years of undergrad rather than making time for pleasure reading. Due to this, I wanted to set a goal of getting back on the saddle and reading 50 books—a number that seemed daunting at first. But once I jumped back into a good story, I flew through my bookshelf (and my roommate’s) and just finished my 71st read of the year!
If I had to pick out of my large stack of novels from this year, however, five really do stand out for me. So if you’re looking to get out of your reading funk for 2024, make sure to add these stories to your shopping cart.
“I Know This Much Is True” by Wally Lamb
My best friend told me this was her favorite book sometime last year and once I finished it, I instantly understood why. This read is over 800 pages so starting it definitely felt overwhelming but turning the last page was incredibly satisfying. I’ve never read a book with such seamless and real internal dialogue that makes it feel like they’re your own thoughts.
The plot revolves around the Birdsey brothers who are twins, one of whom suffers from schizophrenia. After Thomas cuts off his hand in a public library, he is sent to a psychiatric hospital which Dominick tries to get him out of. In the middle of this battle, readers follow Nick in both his past and present struggles.
“Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng
I read this during spring break earlier this year sitting on the beach and it was the highlight of my vacation. I love a good mystery and the descriptive writing in this had me hooked for sure.
Lydia, a daughter of a Chinese-American family, drowns in a local lake. We learn how her family is affected and what Lydia’s final months were like.
“The Woman In The Window” by A.J. Finn
Finn’s novel is basically a modern-day “Rear Window” and I’m not mad about it. The thriller balances mental health and voyeurism to create a nail-biting story.
Although Anna Fox is a psychiatrist, she struggles with a myriad of her own psychological issues. As she is house-ridden due to her poor mental health, she witnesses a murder in her neighbor’s house—a situation hard to solve when her public image is already tainted.
“The Stranger In A Lifeboat” by Mitch Albom
Although I’m not really into religion or faith much, I really love Mitch Albom books. There’s something so magical about his writing that brings me completely into his stories and makes his reads so quick. I also love his book, “The Five People You Meet In Heaven,” but this one spoke with me even more.
Once a party yacht blows up, a group of survivors try to stay alive in a lifeboat—the only problem is, that one of them whom no one recognizes claims that he is God. He claims that it is only until the entire group believes in God that they will be saved, which sends the survivors into an ongoing argument.
“Finding Me” by Viola Davis
Again, it’s the year of surprises for me! I always turned a blind eye to memoirs because I thought they were boring when I was younger, but now I’m on a nonfiction spree. I especially love reading about industry workers and their experiences prior to their stardom—it’s always inspiring and raw.
Davis writes a lot about her childhood and balances her story of a struggling family with her dreams of becoming an actress. She grows to understand self-love and consistency, proving to people that you can achieve anything that you continue working toward.
After a lot of poor book recommendations from “BookTok,” I’ve resorted back to seeking out books I find on the store shelves instead of trusting the opinions of my literature-loving friends. But I can confidently say that these are definitely some of the best of the best that can skip the shelf scanning step.