For my first recommendation post, I wanted to choose that I not only loved from beginning to end, but also own as part of my collection.

I identify as an avid reader, who appreciates the power of words. I’ve always been considered a bookworm because of this. Sadly, I don’t read like I used to.

Back in the old days – before college – I always read during my breaks, while eating, or when riding the CTA. This was on top of the books needed for my classes. 

During the spring and summer of my freshman year, I made it a habit to always have a book in my possession. However, this habit was hard to keep up with my junior year.

I even took an English class in the spring so I’d have no choice but to read more books.

To help motivate myself to continue reading this fall, I’ll start writing about the books I’ve read. These five books are some of my favorite!

1. The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, is definitely my favorite book. I related to Starr in ways I never related to a character before.

Most of the books I’ve read with black leading ladies are over 20 years old, and from the perspective of 40-year-olds. In this story, the main character is a high schooler.

The Black characters all speak like real Black people too (African-American/Black Vernacular English). The characters physical descriptions are very clear, so you can easily imagine their appearances. Of course, the plot is exceptional as well. 

Starr is trapped between two worlds: the world of the privileged, upper class white kids she goes to school with, and the people from her own neighborhood.

Her childhood friend was killed by a police officer and she’s the only one who knows the full-extent of what happened. Not only must she face grief, but also the injustices that lead to and follow this tragic event.

2. The Complete Persepolis

The Complete Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi, was one of the first graphic novels I ever read. I never knew anything about the Middle East, except that’s where the tales of Aladdin and The Arabian Nights (One Thousand and One Nights) come from.

I grew up learning about 9/11, but mostly from the perspective of why my country was constantly at war in the Middle East. 

The story is a memoir that follows the life of Marjane as she grows up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution in 1978.

In the introduction, Marjane writes “an entire nation should not be judged by the wrongdoings of a few extremists” in reference to Western propaganda that pushes the idea that all people from Iran are terrorists.

We don’t learn anything about Iran or the other Middle Eastern countries in school, which is a shame. At least we have this book to see a new perspective.

3. Speak

I remember reading Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson,  in about the seventh grade. At this time, I was reading a lot of books from the perspective of survivors.

From sexual assault to other traumatic events, I wanted to learn about the world from their experiences. Many women, men, and children took the time to be interviewed or record their stories so people all around the world could read and learn.

I believe it’s important for people to try and understand trauma from the perspective of those experiencing it, whether they’re fictional or not.

4. In Cold Blood

I was hooked on this story from the very beginning. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote, led to the most fun in-class discussions. You could say I’m desensitized to the violence described in this book due to my love of murder mysteries, but that belief isn’t necessarily true.

The story follows the lives of the Clutter family before and after their death, as well as their murderers, Dick and Perry. The more you know about the perpetrators and the victims the more complete the picture.

It’s important to learn how criminals think and how they act to prevent more atrocities from occurring. 

I relate to Capote, in that we both value curiosity and see the power of knowledge. The two murderers and thieves, each have their own side to the story, and Capote feels rather sympathetic to one in particular – no spoilers.

By collecting info from as many sides to these murders as possible, Truman Capote forces readers to see new perspectives.

Killers are not monsters with fangs and fur, they are people who do horrible things. There’s nothing to be gained by neglecting this fact.

5. The Refugees

Written by Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Refugees follows the lives of several Vietnamese refugees who moved to American for their own reasons.

As part of my first-year seminar, Immigrants and Aliens, we read various books focusing on different cultures and perspectives.

This book was my favorite because I like stories that go straight to the point. Sometimes I want to know every single detail about the lives of characters, but sometimes I just need to know what they want to share.

Despite being a work of fiction, the characters are realistic, and have their own distinct voices. My favorite story is “Someone Else Besides You”.

These are some of my favorite books, and creating this list has motivated me to re-read them and write some book reviews!

Are there any book genres or topics you’d like me to recommend? Let me know down below!

Make sure to check out my previous post on this month’s 30-Day Writing Challenge!

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