When I was a kid, I used to stay up way past my bedtime — not even bothering with flashlights or the pretense of being under the covers — reading anything I could get my hands on. I remember long, lazy summer days on our porch turning page after page. It was too hot to do anything else. So I read and read and read in between playdates and schoolwork and swim lessons.
But somewhere along the line, reading became a chore — another thing on my already full to-do list. It may have been my college major (political science), juggling multiple book clubs post-grad, or feeling overwhelmed by the amount of reading that #bookstagrammers seem to get done, but I lost a bit of that magic.
I recently got a new library card and found my way back to the stacks that had those books from my youth (and a few new favorites) that made me fall in love with reading all over again. If you think you’re not a reader, think again. There’s something for everyone:
For the visionary
“The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories” by Ken Liu asks, “What if?” to a world full of magic and a future we can’t quite comprehend. If you’re just getting back into reading, this is the perfect place to start — it’s a collection of award-winning short stories, so you’ll be able to read it in bits and pieces. Liu made me laugh, cry (and let me tell you, I’m not usually a crier), and wonder about what the future will bring.
For the artist
I’ve loved “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” by E.L. Konigsburg since I first read it in fifth grade for school. I’ve always seen myself in practical, adventurous Claudia, who runs away with her brother to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to live there for a week in the 1960s. It’s worth the reread as an adult, especially if you love art.
For the believer in magic
“Night Circus” by Erin Morgensen was the first book I read to remind me how magical books can be. It’s the kind of book that kept me turning page after page, falling in love with the characters — two star-crossed lovers and magicians in a mysterious circus — as the drama unfolded. It’s one of my favorite books from the last decade.
For the activist
Great books don’t just tell a story — they make you think differently about the world. I’ve never had so many friends recommend a book to me until Angie Thomas’ “The Hate U Give” which completely changed my perspective. Before you watch the 2018 movie adaptation, pick up this quick-moving read about a 16-year-old caught between the poor neighborhood she lives in and the suburban prep school she attends and her reaction after the fatal police shooting of her friend.
For the superhero fan
I’m a huge superhero movie nerd, so I read “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” by Michael Chabon and loved it. Follow two cousins in post-WWII New York City as they invent new worlds and heroes on the page. Michael Chabon talked extensively with great comic book writers like Stan Lee, and it shows. The story unfolds with the same great pacing and one-liners that make me love comic book movies — it’s a book I recommend to anyone looking to get back into reading.
For the binge-reader (and watcher)
I almost stayed up all night to read “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng. Set in the ‘90s in idyllic Shaker Heights, Illinois, this tightly woven drama about two very different families took me in and would not let me go. I can’t wait to watch the series on Hulu (the amazing Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington play the leads!)
Originally published on May 14, 2020.