Five books you need to read this semester

A good read is hard to find, here is one from our list of five great books. The Alchemist is a novel that still sits at the top of the charts. Photo by Trey Urban.

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For some, reading serves as a temporary escape, but for others, reading feels like a chore. Whether you are on the hunt for your next comfort read, or you are trying to rediscover your love of reading, here are five books you should consider adding to your bookshelf.

Normal People

Written by Sally Rooney, the story follows Connell and Marianne who are at two ends of the social spectrum at their high school. Connell is the popular star soccer player and Marianne is a loner who keeps her life private. When a connection begins to grow between the pair, they end up circling within each other’s orbits, no matter who they’re with.

Eva Sanchez, the stacks and processing manager at the Jeffrey R. Holland Centennial Commons, said: “Normal People” is one of her favorite books as of late. Listed as one of “the books that defined the decade” by The Guardian, the novel has become a beloved read since its release in 2018. After enjoying the book, Sanchez watched the television series that is based on the book.

“[It’s] a fantastic [piece of] contemporary fiction about relationships and how humans are so infallible,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez also recommended “Normal People” to the Trailblazer Reads Program, which compiles a list of book recommendations from students, faculty and staff every semester.

Students can read the books on the list and after finishing a book, they can fill out the slip that’s placed inside the book and turn it into the circulation desk on the second floor of the Holland building. Turning in the slip enters students into a drawing where they can win $70 toward textbooks and a lunch with Kelly Peterson-Fairchild, dean of the library and open learning services department.

Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-to Guide

Written by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, this memoir details how the two women battled a series of hardships on their journey to becoming the hosts of one of the most successful true crime podcasts, “My Favorite Murder.” Through witty anecdotes where they examine their past, Kilgariff and Hardstark teach readers life lessons about addiction, personal safety and mental illness.

Allie McGlothlen, a junior art education major from Spokane, Washington, was drawn to the book after listening to the authors’ podcast. While listening to the audiobook version of the novel, McGlothlen said she could connect with the authors due to her love of all things true crime.

“The book is a memoir about their entire lives and how they got into true crime, so I think it’s a really fun story to read,” McGlothlen said.

Extraordinary Means

Written by Robyn Schneider, the novel follows Lane’s life as he is being sent away to a boarding school for sick teenagers called Latham House, much to his dismay. While at Latham House, he meets Sadie and her friends who help him to discover that life exists outside of his illness. If you read “The Fault in Our Stars” from cover to cover, “Extraordinary Means” is the perfect book for you.

“It’s on the easy side with a good message of appreciating your time here and enjoying the moments you’re in,” Murguia said.

The novel is a particular favorite for Mercedes Murguia, a senior theatre major from Mesquite, Nevada. She has read the book multiple times now and she said she enjoys the story more and more with every read.

The Alchemist

Written by Paulo Coelho, “The Alchemist” tells the story of Santiago, a shepherd boy, who leaves his homeland to travel to Egypt on a quest to find treasure buried near the Pyramids. During his journey, Santiago meets an array of peculiar characters who help guide him toward the treasure. His quest leads him to discover that there is also treasure to be found within himself.

J.C. Sparks, a junior elementary education major from Smithfield, who works at the circulation desk at the Holland building, highly recommends “The Alchemist.” Sparks’s favorite genre is fantasy so it’s no wonder why this novel is on his favorites list. He said fantasy novels, like “The Alchemist,” transport him to another world. Sparks isn’t the only one singing this novel’s praises as it managed to land a spot on Good Housekeeping’s “40 Life-Changing Books You Should Read at Least Once” list.

Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family

Written by Garrard Conley, this memoir brilliantly captures Conley’s tumultuous experience of coming to grips with his sexuality while growing up in a deeply religious household. After undergoing conversion therapy and trying to grapple with his faith, Conley begins to find himself, and forgiveness.

The memoir’s critical analysis of the struggle between identity and family is what landed the novel on Oprah’s list of “The Best Memoirs of 2016.” If you thoroughly enjoy the book and want more “Boy Erased” content, the novel was turned into a film in 2018 starring Joel Edgerton, Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman. The film, much like the book, tugs at your heart strings, so be sure to have Kleenex on hand.

If you are struggling to find the motivation to read a book, hopefully you’ve picked out one of the novels recommended above, Sanchez suggests having a weekly silent reading hour with friends. Reading in the presence of others can help you to stay off your phone and encourages you to set aside time every week to read.