Must Haves

Must Haves

Must Haves

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In the next few weeks and months, there might be delays in your favorite tv shows and your most anticipated movies, due to the actors and screenwriter's strikes.Of course, there’s a plethora of content to watch on demand on any number of streaming services. But this might be a good time to catch up on that podcast (or podcasts) that you were thinking of trying.

Or — and stick with me here — you might want to try reading a novel! There’s nothing like immersing yourself in a fiction story. Undistracted by good or bad performances by Hollywood stars or newcomers, undistracted by cinematography or special effects, your imagination can actually provide the visuals. While most films and TV shows are the result of collaborations between creatives and the business, novels are much more of a “solo project.” You know how when someone who has read the source material sees a movie adaptation, their response is usually, “But the book was better”? Well, it usually is.

Of course, reading requires a bit more discipline than watching TV or a movie. At the end of a work day, it’s easy to plop on the couch and just activate your TV, laptop or iPad screen. Reading a book (whether it’s in physical form or digital) is much more of an active choice and requires a bit more effort and concentration. But it pays off.

I spend a lot of my time reading books, reading about books and talking about books. So far this year, I’ve read xxx books, mostly/all novels. Here are five of the best current novels that I would recommend.

  • 'Happy Place' by Emily Henry

    Emily Henry is the Nora Ephron of the book world. Her writing is sharp, witty, heartfelt, and so much more. Happy Place is my favorite Emily Henry book. It’s a story about lost love and friendship. The book focuses on Harriet, who recently broke her engagement off with long-time partner Wyn. After weeks of heartbreak, she is finally visiting her friends for their yearly summer vacation in an idyllic coastal cottage in Maine. The problem is Harriet has yet to tell her friends about her split from Wyn. Things get even messier when Wyn is suddenly on the trip with the group, and Harriet’s friend informs the group that the cottage is being sold and this is their last hurrah. So, to keep the spirits high, Harriet and Wyn decide to pretend they are still together, vowing that it’s only for a short while. But their old feelings threaten to come to the surface at every turn, and perhaps they are meant to be together after all.

    This book is everything you need in a summer romance. With a 4.18 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, it’s easily one of the year’s best books.

  • 'Fourth Wing' by Rebecca Yarros

    A new “Book Tok” sensation has swept the fantasy world by storm this summer. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros is brilliant, action-packed, and fantastic. Violet Sorrengail comes from a long line of dragon riders, with her mother and sister currently holding high positions in their military legions. In a country currently under siege, only a brave few make it through the Rider’s Quadrant at Basgiath College for riding dragons is not the only thing young cadets have to worry about. This book is a wonderful fantasy novel that showcases incredible lore, world building, and a touch of romance.

    The book hit #1 on the New York Times Best Sellers Hardcover list and has repeatedly sold out from major retailers nationwide for every reprint. The second book in the series is set to publish in early November. Goodreads reviewers have given it a 4.68 out of 5 stars.

  • 'Yellowface' by R.F. Kuang

    Anyone curious about the world of publishing or in the world of publishing needs to read Yellowface. The book is eye-opening and incredibly sharp. The story focuses on two promising debut authors out of Yale. One who is set to take the world by storm. The other couldn’t even get a paperback release. When June Hayward witnesses fellow debut author Athena Liu’s death in a freak accident, she steals Athena’s next manuscript. It’s a story that is focused on the Chinese contributors to the British and French forces during World War II. When her new publisher decides to rebrand her to “Juniper Sung,” and to promote her using an ethnically ambiguous author photo, things get complicated. <

    This book tackles many major themes, especially racism and diversity in the publishing space. It’s brilliant and absolutely eye-opening. Goodreads reviewers have given it a 4.16 out of 5 stars.

  • 'The Only One' Left by Riley Sager

    For the true-crime lovers out there, this book will keep you at the edge of your seat. The One Left Behind features home-health aid Kit, who takes a job as the live-in nurse of her towns very own Lizzie Borden, she is skeptical at first. Everyone knows that Lenora Hope killed her family. But Kit needs the money and the stability after a recent months-long sabbatical. But when Lenora, who is unable to talk vocally, uses her typewriter to tell Kit what really happened that night at Hope’s End, Kit learns there is more to the story than the town knows.

    This book is thrilling and dark. You may need to sleep with a night light after it. It has a 4.26 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

  • 'Immortal Longings' by Chloe Gong

    Chloe Gong is known for her fantastical Shakespeare retellings. Immortal Longings follows her successful Romeo & Juliet retelling, These Violent Delights. This adult fantasy debut, inspired by Shakespeare’s Antony & Cleopatra, features a Princess determined to kill the only remaining family member she has and subsequently bring down the monarchy. She teams with a shunned aristocrat with the skills she needs to get close to her uncle. The kingdom’s annual games, which involve competitors with the unique ability to jump between bodies, is a fight to the death. The victor was greeted by Princess Calla’s uncle and King of the kingdom. With the help of one of the best jumpers in the kingdom, Anton will bring Calla close to her true goal of fixing the kingdom before her.

    The book recently released and is a highly anticipated read for many. Early readers have given it a 3.98 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

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