Sometimes I read a book that hits me with so many feelings that it takes me weeks to pick myself up off the floor. I’ve heard people refer to this as a book hangover, but lately, I’ve been referring to it as being punched in the soul by a book—because that really is how it feels. There’s nothing like reading a book that thoroughly crushes you to remind yourself why you love to read.
Maybe you’re behind on your goodreads challenge. Maybe you’re in a book slump. Maybe you just want something really, really good to read. I’ve got you covered, but be warned–this books might just wreck you.
Here are five reads that punched me in the soul:
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas—alright, chances are you’ve already heard of this book, and you’ve probably already read it, too. And if you haven’t read it, wtf what are you doing!? GET YOURSELF TO A BOOK STORE RIGHT. NOW. THUG was one of my favorite books of 2017 and it’s probably one of my favorite books of all time. This book is a master class in creating a full cast of empathetic, dimensional characters that issues relevant to right now. It’s a book for teens, but also a book for people that care about teens, that live with them, and work with them. One of my coworkers said this book ought to be required reading for college admission counselors, and I couldn’t agree more. I read this book almost a year ago, and I’m still reeling.
- Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman. Okay, I was not prepared for how much this book would wreck me. My writer friend Katie Zhao recommended it. Katie loved the book, and I was in a book slump so I figured, hey, why not! This book shattered me. I haven’t stopped talking about it since I read it. As someone that suffers from anxiety and panic attacks, Starfish was one of the most accurate and honest portrayals of what I struggle with that I’ve ever seen on the page. In addition to writing, people that follow my twitter know I love to sketch, and in high school drawing was one of the ways I escaped the people around me and my own mind. I saw myself in the main character, Kiko, in a million ways. This book is thoughtful, honest, and soul-crushing. Go read it. Now.
- Code Name Verity by Elizabeth E. Wein. I was not ready for what this book would do to me. I picked it up because the hosts of the Shipping and Handling podcast talked about it enough that I was curious. I took the book with me when my boyfriend and I went on vacation in Jamaica—and promptly spent an entire day of my vacation ignoring the world to read this book. CNV is just…stunning. It takes place in WW2 but at its core this is a book about the intense friendships teen girls develop with each other. There’s debate on whether or not this is a platonic or a romantic love, and I’m guilty of shipping the girls because hello. I can’t put into words how thoroughly this book wrecked me. I don’t even remember what happened the day I read it or where my boyfriend went, because I just spent the entire day glued to a beach chair, drowning in this book and margaritas. I can’t recommend it enough.
- Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. This is another book I read because it was recommended so frequently on Shipping and Handling, and I still have not picked myself up off of the floor. Like Starfish, this book was so crushing because it felt so personal. I saw myself in the main character. Growing up, I was the girl that wanted to spend more time online and lost in the world of fanfiction and writing with my online friends than living in reality.
- Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo—you didn’t really think there wouldn’t be a YA Fantasy on this list, did you? Six of Crows and its sequel destroyed me in the best way, because they reminded me why YA Fantasy will always be one of my favorite genres, and why it’s my favorite genre to write. These books are a masterclass in juggling multiple POVs that all manage to have their own distinct, heart-wrenching, wonderful inner lives. Don’t get me wrong, Bardugo’s magic systems are phenomenal and her world-building is second to none, but the characters in this series are what sold it for me. This is the book I give to people that love YA but claim they don’t love fantasy, because it’s just that good. You don’t have to be a genre fiction reader to fall head over heels for this book.
There you have it! I’m definitely still reeling. I hope you pick some of these up, and I hope you’re ready for how thoroughly they’ll destroy you.
What books punched you in the soul?