This month the Teen Press Corps asked themselves: If there was a book (or a few, let’s be honest) you think every person needs to read in their lifetime, what would it be? The result is our Required Reading Round Up! Find yourself a new favorite read from these reviews and as always, you can shop in-store or online for these books and so much more at BookPeople! 😉

House of Hollow Krystal Sutherland – Rebecca C.

The ultimate dark fantasy with three eye-catching female characters. The main character is a nerd, that’s just the facts. The middle sister is a punk rock star in London. And, the oldest sister is the fashion designer and at-home witch who spins everything out of control. If you like low fantasy (fantasy set in the real world) with some amazing aesthetics, check House of Hollow out.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt – Rebecca C.

Yes, it’s overrated, but for the best reasons. Donna Tartt wrote it to be overrated. It’s the best satire of murder mystery and old money archetypes. The main character, Richard, attends a liberal arts school in the northeast on scholarship, and attempts to hide that last detail. He ends up playing a figurate game of masquerade with his small, six-person, Greek class, who ends up committing a murder. Moral of the story: stick to your guns (and don’t kill your friends). TW: drugs, alcohol, and general adult content.

Crescent City by Sarah J. Maas – Amia D.

A fantastic and epic read filled with mystery, gore and powerful characters. Like any Sarah J. Maas book it’s filled with action and extreme world building. Unlike her other series Crescent City is labeled as a more adult book and is built with a modern feel as the characters drive cars and have cell phones. If you like high fantasy, fae and a twisty plot this book is for you!

On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden – Ivy M.

Tillie Walden’s epic sci-fi graphic novel was a breakout moment for the talented artist and its beauty, genius, and heart-aching story make it obvious why. Walden’s style is uniquely fluid and mesmerizing, perfectly depicting the glory of wide open space as well as the tenderness at the heart of the story. I especially recommend On a Sunbeam for folks who have yet to try reading graphic novels, as Walden’s masterpiece proves that comics are an expansive medium, not a limiting genre.

Under The Whispering Door by TJ Klune- Synae W.

A heartwarming, hilarious, whimsical story full of grief and love and everything that makes up what it is to be alive. Under The Whispering Door follows Wallace, a  cold workaholic, who thinks he’s lived a full life because of his successful career and wealth. He gets a wake up call when one day he has a heart attack, and is suddenly watching his funeral. When he is collected by a reaper, instead of being led to the afterlife, he is taken to a tea shop run by a man named Hugo, who is a ferryman for lost souls. In the tea shop, Wallace learns about what it is to be alive, and all of the wonderful things he missed. If you want a warm, heartfelt book to tug on your heartstrings, I’d definitely recommend this book.

Jazz by Toni Morrison- Georgia S.

This was the first book I studied in my favorite class. Taking place in 1926 Harlem, it follows Violet, a woman who has just interrupted a young girl’s funeral to slice off the face of her corpse after discovering that the girl, Dorcas, had been her husband’s mistress. Told in the past and present, this brilliant novel explores life in the Harlem Renaissance, race, unconventional relationships, unbreakable obsession, and female rage through the most captivating figurative language. Jazz has left a lasting impression on me, and I will never stop recommending it. 

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr- Georgia S.

As my friend said, “This book was unlike anything I’ve ever read. Time felt like an idea, stories came to life, and it showed just how connected the world truly is.” Cloud Cuckoo Land is told through the lives of our five protagonists: Zeno, Anna, Omeir, Seymour, and Konstance. All live unique lives thousands of years apart, but all are connected through the ancient story of Aetheon. Aetheon is a myth made up by Doerr, but feels like a truly sacred text that really was worshiped by our ancestors. Full of suspense, twists, and heartbreaking realizations, Cloud Cuckoo Land is a novel that has changed my perspective of life. 

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak- Isabel C. 

The Book Thief is a historical fiction young adult novel that is narrated by Death as he follows the life of Liesel Meminger, the protagonist who has been newly-homed with foster parents Rosa and Hans Hubermann. The book takes place during the build up to and duration of the Second World War and is a gorgeous examination of friendship, adolescence, grief, and love. It contains bits of tiny wisdom and is a must-read for young and experienced readers alike. 

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See follows the complex and intertwining arcs of two young children, Werner Pfennig, an orphan boy in pre-World War II Germany, and Marie-Laure Leblanc, a blind girl living in Paris with her father. These two narratives come together to give an interesting look at love, connection, and fate.

The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai – Mac L.

A sentence in the first chapter of The Borrower reads, “These were wise, modern children, and they knew: a mother could be a witch, a child could be a criminal. A librarian could be a thief.”. This holds true through this book, which follows the main character Lucy Hull, who is a children’s librarian in the completely real town of Hannibal, Missouri, as well as a young boy, Ian Drake. Lucy finds herself to be both the kidnapper and kidnapped when Ian, fleeing his overbearing religious mother, camps out in the library and asks Lucy to take him far from where his family is. This book is full of love in all shapes and sizes, from familial to platonic to romantic, and discusses the excitement of being on the road (as well as the uncertainty of being on the run) while also being uniquely thoughtful and poetic.