Every once in a while, I pick up a book that’s so compelling I just don’t have the ability to put it down until I read the last page. Sometimes it’s because the book is Earth shattering and the idea of going to bed before I reach the last page is unfathomable and sometimes it’s because I’m invested in the plot and characters that I have to know what happens next.
We’ve all been there.
Books that you can’t put down have certain qualities: great characters, strong narrative drive and a plot that hooks me. The writing is often strong, but does not always have to be, and it isn’t dense enough where I feel mentally (or sometimes physically) exhausted after reading just a few pages.
Tell Me Three Things
Author: Julie Buxbaum
I loved this book way more then I think I should’ve. A girl-next-door type suddenly finds herself at an elite prep school in California and has to figure out how to navigate this privledged life while also grieving her mother’s death. When she gets an email from an unidentified boy in school who calls himself “Somebody Nobody” offering to be her spirit guide to the new school she doesn’t want to say yes-but she really needs his help. It’s a sweet and fun teen romance but also is a perfect portrayal of the grieving process one goes through.
Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
This is perhaps my favourite book of all time. I read it when I was in high school after it was recommended by one of my friends, Sara. It’s John Green’s first published novel and was inspired by Green’s own experience in high school. It’s about a boy named Miles Halter who attends a private school in Alabama. His first night there he meets his new roommate, Chip “the Colonel” Martin and the beautiful but emotionally unstable girl Alaska Young, whom Miles falls hopelessly in love with. After tradegy strikes the private school, Miles spends the remainder of his year coping with grief, understanding love and learning how to seek the great perhaps. I read this book years ago and my own copy is tattered, filled with underlines quotes and has made its way around the world to those I couldn’t help but recommend the book to. I’m hoping that this book never becomes a movie, as I couldn’t image the perfect book being tarnished by a movie.
This Is How You Lose Her
Author: Junot Diaz
Junot Diaz’s new collection of linked narratives is about love (passionate, all consuming love), illicit love, dying love, maternal love – all told through the lives of New Jersey Dominicans as they struggle to find a balance between love and life. He explains the infinite longing between two souls and the inevitable weakness of the human heart but all of these stories remind us that passion always triumphs over experience and ‘love, when it hits us for real, has a half-life of forever’. I read this over the summer when I felt as though I would remain alone for forever and this book hit me right in the heart. I was trying to find the balance of love, passion and life and somehow Diaz managed to capture all of those feelings and ideas into one short novel.
Milk and Honey
Author: Rupi Kaur
I have never been a fan of poetry but Rupi Kaur speaks to me. After following her on Instagram for ages, I found myself finally purchasing the novel. It is broken up into four parts: the hurting, the loving, the breaking and the healing. All are self-explanatory and all poems are relatively short but they all are relatable. She’s a twenty-one-year-old poet and as a twenty-two-year-old girl I couldn’t help but have tears after learning that finally, finally, someone understood. One of my favourite poems is “your body is a museum of natural disasters; can you grasp how stunning that is?” I am forever grateful for Rupi Kaur.
Author: Gillian Flynn
I’m a sucker for books turning into movies and had the need to read this novel once it was announced that Ben Affleck would be the star. The movie does not do the novel justice at all. We followed Nick Dunne as he tries to discover what happened to his wife on their fifth wedding anniversary. The police suspect it was Nick after Amy’s friend reveals that she was afraid of him and kept secrets from him. He swears it wasn’t him and he goes on a mission to find his wife and clear his name. Let me tell you this book does not end the way you think, or hope. Instead it leaves you wanting more and knowing what exactly happened to the Dunne’s.
The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo
Author: Amy Schumer
Amy shares stories about her family, her relationships, her career, good – and bad – sex, all of the experiences that have shaped her into whom she is today. They’re stories of good and bad, riches to rags, the teenage quest to popularity and explains why she is such an advocate for women’s rights. Whether she’s experiencing lust at first sight (in a queue or airport, both of which I relate to) or candidly discussing her father’s multiple sclerosis, Schumer proves to be fearless, original and an entertaining storyteller. This book made me laugh, it made me cry, it caught me off guard and answered some of the most burning questions like whether or not it is okay to sleep with a teddy bear still (yes). If you need a good laugh and a good novel filled with short essays this is for you. I finished this on my six-hour flight to London. It will not disappoint.
Author: Cheryl Strayed
Bob actually recommended this one, to no one’s surprise. I’m always telling people I’m a lost soul, wandering the world until I can get my life together, and this novel (along with the next one) spoke to me. It’s about twenty-six-year-old Cheryl Strayed who believed she lost everything after her mother’s rapid death from cancer, her family dismantled and her marriage crumbling. With nothing to lose she makes the most impulsive decision of her life (does this sound like someone we know?): to walk eleven-hundred miles of the west coast of America and to do it alone. She’s never done long-distance hiking and the journey was nothing more than a line on a map but it held a promise of healing a life that was once lost and so confusing. Yes, this could easily be the story of my life. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day I pulled a Cheryl Strayed to find myself. But that’s the beauty the wild: you can’t escape your thoughts and how you, and only you, can fix yourself. Besides, if Lorelai Gilmore likes Wild who wouldn’t?
Eat, Pray, Love
Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
After a bitter divorce, Elizabeth Gilbert emerges bewildered and realises it’s time to pursue her own journey to find the three things she’s been missing: pleasure, devotion and balance. So she travels to Rome where she gains twenty-five pounds and meets a handsome Italian, a shrine in India where she finds enlightenment after scrubbing tiled floors and Bali, where a toothless man offers her a new path to peace: simply sit still and smile. While I may not be searching for divorce, I was asked to read this novel back in high school by Mrs. Miller. Now at twenty-two, I relate to this novel even more. We are all on the search for happiness and inner peace and should take some advice from Ms. Gilbert.
Bridge Jones’s Diary
Author: Helen Fielding
I have come to the realization that I am Bridget Jones because Bridget Jones (although older than me) documents her struggles through society and tries to figure out whom she’s in love with (Daniel Cleaver? Mark Darcy?) and she turns to support to four indispensable friends: Shazzer, Jude, Tom and a bottle of chardonnay. While I would trade the chardonnay for a bottle of rum, my life has run parallel to certain aspects of Ms. Jones’s life. I couldn’t stop laughing and I suggest this novel to all girls who are feeling a little extra lost in the world.