There's something so special about curling up on the couch or sitting down for lunch and opening up a book. With the busy school and/or work schedules that we all grapple with, peaceful moments like this can often fall by the wayside. I know one of my recurring New Year's resolutions is to challenge that and get myself back into reading regularly- and if you're in a similar boat, here are a few recommendations based off the books I found during 2018.
1. "Turtles All The Way Down" by John Green
I read this book pretty early in the year, so I may not remember every little detail, but what I definitely remember is absolutely loving it. From the author of "The Fault in Our Stars" and a couple of other famous young adult novels, Green's most recent release approaches the topics of friendship, wealth, and first love through the protagonist's journey to figure out her sense of self. The thing I loved most is how it expresses what life with mental illness is like. The story is constructed around the struggle of the main character, Aza, with her intrusive thoughts, and is based on Green's own experiences with OCD. As someone who does not suffer from a disorder like this, it was so enlightening to get inside a character's brain who does. Art is such an incredible means of understanding others' lives and is often one of the few ways humans can get these sorts of things across to each other, and Green uses it in this way beautifully.
"Me Before You" by Jojo Moyes
Yes, you might know this book (or the movie adaptation) as a mushy romance story. However, it does not deserve the negative connotations and judgements that this genre often suffers from. Much like how "Turtles All the Way Down" informs about what OCD is like for those with the condition and those who are close to them, Moyes's novel speaks truths about what life is like for quadriplegics and their loved ones in a way that many people occupying those positions in real life have applauded. It's another successful attempt to shorten the distance between those removed from this kind of situation and those who experience it every day. Sometimes it can be easy to forget that we are all, at our core, human- and this beautiful story does a great job of reminding us that.
"If Birds Fly Back" by Carlie Sorosiak
I swear I read things other than mushy books. What I really liked about this one was how it made me feel about not just the love story, but also the parents of one of the narrators, Linny. Both her parents are doctors who pressure her to follow the same path to what they perceive as success. As someone majoring in music (definitely not one of the standard "successful" fields), this part was a huge contributor towards my emotional reaction to the book. I am lucky enough to not have to deal with this in my own life, but I could still understand Linny's perspective as a fellow artist and felt the same kind of frustration as she did when the tension mounted. In general, I always enjoy books that are able to make me feel something, and this did exactly that.
"An Absolutely Remarkable Thing" by Hank Green
Though I technically only started this book in 2018, it's so fresh in my head that I wanted to write about it. Green's book is simultaneously an alien mystery and a commentary on the power of Internet fame, and it works so well. Since Green himself is an Internet star (he invented VidCon, and you've seen him on Vlogbrothers, Crash Course, SciShow, and others), the perspective on this very modern form of fame is firsthand. This means that the things the protagonist, April, chooses to do aren't too different from reality- which adds a whole other layer to the already-haunting alien storyline. It's a wild ride from start to finish, but a worthwhile read.
Seeing what a new year is going to bring is always exciting, but after having such a great experience getting back into the habit of reading last year, I cannot wait to see what books I'll come across during 2019. There are so many lessons to learn and stories to hear that it's sure to be only uphill from here- and I hope the same for you. Happy reading!