A Perfectly Approved Reading List
TikTok’s reading recommendations are not good enough, but this list is.
By Avery Hellberg
I spent most of my pandemic scrolling through video after video on BookTok. The book-focused niche on TikTok inspired me to revisit my favorite childhood hobby of reading. Still, I can't say that I agree with most of their book recommendations.
Some of these videos recommending the same YA romantic comedy make me realize people literally wouldn't know a good book if it hit them in the face. This, of course, is why I'm here to give you recommendations that are actually 100% worth your time.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I would read Taylor Jenkins Reid's grocery list if she let me. Reid is genuinely one of the best contemporary fiction authors around right now, and any book written by her will be worth your while. However, there is something special about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.
A story of love and heartbreak that hooks you from the first line, readers follow the life of Evelyn Hugo, notorious golden-age Hollywood actress. You can't help but fall in love with Evelyn and root for her despite her shortcomings. Reid can make even the most unlikeable character feel relatable.
After finishing the book, I immediately bought Reid's two other books and similarly couldn't put them down.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Conversations with Friends was my introduction to Sally Rooney and the reason I fell in love with her writing style and character creation. The excellent characterization struck me as familiar, and made me realize that a TV show I began watching called Normal People was based on a novel by Rooney.
Obviously, I had to read it, and I was not disappointed. This is a bit of a controversial recommendation because most people critique the characters for their "unlikability," but that's intentional.
The characters are meant to be real, raw, and display the worst parts of everyday humans. Readers follow Marianne and Connell, simply ordinary people, as they grow from high school hookups to university students finding their place in society.
Marianne and Connell are arguably terrible people who make mountains of mistakes. Yet, they manage to capture readers' hearts, and you can't help but want the best for them. If you're not afraid to relate to incredibly imperfect characters, then read Normal People.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Time for the obligatory YA fantasy recommendation, and Six of Crows is the best of the best. Although Leigh Bardugo is more famous for the Shadow and Bones series, Six of Crows is arguably better. In Six of Crows, readers follow a group of 6 misfits that come together to pull off their world’s greatest heist.
Some people's issue with excessive world-building in fantasy novels wouldn't be an issue with Six of Crows. Bardugo intertwines comprehensive world-building, intricate plot, and character creation thoughtfully and beautifully. Since there are six main characters, readers of every walk of life can find themselves in the story.
Fantasy series can be intimidating, especially with five or more books in the story. Again, Bardugo avoids this issue by making Six of Crows a duology. She leaves the readers with a satisfying conclusion without an unwieldy number of books.