Things to read that aren't textbooks

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Photo by Jay Walker "Name of the Wind," "Six of Crows," "Scythe," and "The Dry" all sit on a nightstand after having been added to the favorite book collection.

With the number of textbooks, handouts or PDFs that college students are required to read, it’s easy to feel fatigued by reading. As book lovers ourselves, we know how hard it can be to find the time and the motivation to pick up a book that isn’t vital to our classes. With this list, we hope to ease the struggle of finding the right book to read when you need a break from your mandatory reading list.

“Scythe” - Neal Shusterman

This YA dystopian novel is the first of the Scythe Arc trilogy. The human race has finally conquered death, but with figuring out immortality, they would need a way to control the population. With Scythes being the population regulators and a sentient AI leader, teens Citra and Rowan learn what it means to feel in an empty society. This book, while a bit longer, is a quick read from start to finish, keeping you on your toes with every word. 

“The Dry” - Jane Harper

For those with a hankering for adult fiction/mystery, this is the book for you. With an insight to small-town Australian culture, “The Dry” follows two murders: one recent family murder-suicide and one from years back when a teenage girl went missing. Solving the murder of his best friend while dealing with ridicule from the town for his suspected involvement in the historic murder, main character Aaron Falk takes us through a fast-paced and eloquently written exploration of small towns and motive. 

“Six of Crows” - Leigh Bardugo

A beautifully built world of magic and crime, “Six of Crows” is one of the best books I have read in a long time. This book is like a magic-infused “Ocean’s 11,” but better. On the heist of the century, Kaz and his crew navigate the rough political climate of the Grisha universe in order to save the inventor of a drug that could take wars to a new level. This book is beautifully written and a great escape from the looming college world around us. 

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“Name of the Wind” - Patrick Rothfuss

A fantasy novel that keeps readers on their toes as they read about two tales, one of Kote and the other of Kvothe. While the same person, they have lived completely different lives. Kote tells his life as Kvothe, the King Killer, and we follow him through his life on the streets, his obsession with the Chandrian and his trials and tribulations at sympathy (magic) school. Kvothe, bright as hell but with no common sense, takes the reader throughout the eloquently hand-crafted world that Rothfuss created. This book transports you to a different time and, while long, flies from start to finish.

“One of Us is Lying” - Karen M. McManus

This YA mystery follows five very different high school students who end up stuck in detention together. By the end of the day, only four make it out alive. This book is full of unexpected twists and turns that will have your head reeling by the end of it. If you’re looking for a page-turner that you won’t be able to put down until you’re done, this book is for you.

“The Hidden Power of F*cking Up” - The Try Guys

In their debut novel, viral internet sensations The Try Guys — Keith Habersberger, Ned Fulmer, Zach Kornfeld and Eugene Lee Yang — embrace the powers of failure. Listen, college is rough. There are going to be times where you try your hardest and you end up failing. This book teaches you that it is okay to fail and that failure is just a stepping stone to learning. In the book, The Try Guys tackle challenges in their personal lives to make positive changes for themselves. And they fail. A lot. But they get back up and try again. They try, they learn and they grow, things they wouldn’t have done if they hadn’t failed. If you need the motivation to make changes in your life or the reassurance that failing is okay, give "The Hidden Power of F***ing Up" a shot.

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” - Stephen Chbosky

This novel by Stephen Chbosky follows narrator Charlie, a high school boy who doesn’t really fit in with any crowd, but he eventually finds a group of friends that end up changing his life. Charlie goes through many ups and downs trying to figure out who he is, a feeling many students — high school and college alike — experience. This book is perfect for anyone who is trying to find their way.

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“Between Shades of Gray” - Ruta Sepetys

This historical fiction novel takes place during World War II and explores the treatment of the Lithuanian people from the perspective of a teenage girl. Taken from her home with her family, young Lina must fight to survive the harsh conditions of Stalin's regime. This incredibly harrowing story of hope, bravery, family and love is written in a simplistic style that is easy for anyone to get lost in.

“We Were Liars” - E. Lockhart

Cadence Sinclair had it all — the illusions of a perfect life, family and romance. Until one summer at her grandfather's island, where a freak accident changed everything. Two years later, Sinclair returns to her grandfather's island with her family, trying to uncover the truth she's forgotten about the summer of her accident. This novel is captivating, hooking readers in with the mystery of what happened that fateful summer. All is revealed in an unexpected plot twist that will leave you shocked.



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