Must-Reads for Every Genre

Hello, friends! I thought I’d share some of my favorite books from all the genres I read, some new, some old. But hopefully you’re able to find something to add to your ever-growing TBR. Some of these were no-brainers, others I really struggled to break three-way ties. But these are all absolute favorites of mine, all 5-star reads (in my opinion), so enjoy!

Contemporary Fiction

We Are Okay had me crying like a baby. It’s about a college freshman running away from her past, but who’s not quite sure how to cope or move on from that past. The story is just as beautiful as the cover.
The Goldfinch is a hefty novel, both in length and content. It’s about a young boy who loses his mother in a traumatic event, and how that forever changes him and the course of his life. Honestly it’s a wild ride, but one that’s worth it.

Sci-Fi

Illuminae [The Illuminae Files] is one of the most unique books I’ve had the pleasure of reading. It’s the story of Kady and Ezra, two teens aboard a space craft being perused by an enemy warship, and did I mention a deadly plague has broken out, too? It’s told through emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, etc., which sounds weird but it’s actually amazing.
Annihilation [Southern Reach] is one of the weirdest books I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Four women venture into Area X, where nature has reclaimed the landscape, but where something really weird is going on. No one ever comes back from Area X, not really.

Mystery

Truly Devious [Truly Devious] is the perfect YA mystery to curl up with in the winter. It’s set at a prestigious academy in the middle of Vermont wilderness. It’s got two mysteries in one—while Stevie Bell is researching the infamous murders that happened at the Academy in the 1930s, another murder occurs in present-day.
Dark Places may be over a decade old, but it remains one of my favorite mysteries. Libby’s whole family is murdered when she’s only seven years old—with the exception of her older brother who is convicted of the crime. But twenty-five years later, Libby begins to question that verdict.

Thriller/Suspense

There’s Someone Inside Your House is indeed a mystery of sorts, but I would consider it more thriller/suspense. And throw in some horror, too. And a lot of teen angst/romance. What more do you need? Makani Young is forced to leave Hawai’i after a terrible accident results in someone’s death. But it seems Makani isn’t able to escape, because suddenly her new high school classmates are being murdered one-by-one.
You [You] has been adapted into a popular Netflix series, but the books are just as good, guys! Bookstore clerk Joe is just a normal guy. He falls in “love at first sight” with Beck, and like any normal guy, starts stalking her, placing himself into her life little by little until she starts falling for him, too. He just needs to kill a few people in his way, first. Yep, just your average Joe.

Horror

Wilder Girls is like Lord of the Flies and Annihilation had a baby and this is that baby. It’s definitely a slow-burn, quiet horror story about an all-girls school on an island. Then something called the Tox is introduced on the island, and it slowly transforms both the environment and the girls living in it.
The Haunting of Hill House is another subtle horror story, but it’s the perfect Halloween read. Shirley Jackson an amazing writer, and her haunted house story that inspired all the other haunted house stories. It’s not as outwardly terrifying as the Netflix series of the same named based on it, but it is an absolute masterpiece about four adults and their experience staying in the infamous Hill House.

Historical Fiction

The Book Thief is another oldie but goodie. With Death narrating the tale, it’s certainly unlike other books you’ve read. It’s set in Nazi Germany, 1939, and follows Liesel and her foster family as Liesel both falls in love with books and assists in hiding a Jew.
All the Light We Cannot See is also set during World War II. It’s told in alternating perspectives from Marie-Laure, a young girl living in Nazi-occupied Paris, and Werner, a brilliant orphan who finds himself assisting the Nazi’s in tracking down the resistance.

Romance

The Fault in Our Stars is literally my favorite book. Don’t hate me, don’t question me, just accept it. You had to know I would pick it for the YA romance. Hazel and Augustus and their love story made me sob, and continue to make me sob with every re-read. If you’ve been living under a rock and don’t yet know, it’s about two teens, one with cancer and one in remission, who meet in a support group and become friends.
Maybe in Another Life caught me by surprise. It’s about a young woman who is in need of a fresh start, so her best friend takes her in and, to celebrate, takes her out for the night. She meets a guy named Ethan who she genuinely likes. Should she go home with her best friend, or stay out with the cute guy? The novel splits at this point into two perspectives—the story if Hannah goes home, or if she stays out. You get to see how her life plays out after making both decisions!

Fantasy

Carry On [Simon Snow] is the best fantasy novel of all time. Yes, even better than Harry Potter, fight me. Listen, I just love it so much. You can’t go wrong with an enemy-to-lovers gay magical fantasy story. Simon Snow is the chosen one, but he doesn’t feel like it. He can’t even get his wand to work most of the time. And even worse, he thinks his roommate Baz may actually be a vampire, and he definitely wants to kill Simon.
Nevernight [The Nevernight Chronicle] is not YA—don’t let the Goodsreads shelves or bookstore genre signs confuse you. The author himself has said it is not YA. It is, however, an epic dark fantasy about a girl named Mia on a quest to avenge her murdered family. Step 1: Find the Red Church. Step 2: Become a Blade, a deadly assassin for the Mother of Night. Step 3: Murder the bastards who killed her family. Simple, right?

Graphic Novel

On a Sunbeam is a sci-fi graphic novel, so you know it’s amazing. It’s about Mia and Grace, two girls dancing their way from friendship to something more. But Grace has a secret, and when she’s forced to go into hiding and leave Mia behind, Mia goes on a quest to find her. All the characters are women with the exception of a non-binary character named Elliot, who goes by they/them pronouns.
Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 1: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life [Scott Pilgrim] is the start to a beautifully hilarious, dorky, amazing series. You may be thinking, hey Alyssa, this looks more like YA than adult, but I spent a lot of time trying to categorize it and I really do think it’s more New Adult/Adult, but that’s okay if you disagree. It’s about a 23-year-old guy named Scott who is interested in this manicpixiedreamgirl Romona, but in order to date her, he’s forced to fight her seven evil ex-boyfriends exes. Nbd, right?

Dystopian

The Hunger Games [The Hunger Games] really is my favorite YA dystopia. It use to be The Maze Runner, but upon re-reading the entire series for the prequel’s release this year, I’ve decided Hunger Games is the winner. If you still haven’t read The Hunger Games, this is a sign that it’s time. North America is divided into districts of Panem, all working to serve the Capitol. Every year, the President hosts something called the Hunger Games, where each district throws 2 kids into a fight to the death.
We was written in 1921 by a Russian mathematician and basically birthed the dystopian genre. It’s a story about cipher D-503 who lives in the One State, a sort of paradise utopia where there is no such thing as individual freedom. Everyone lives and works for the collective good. But then he meets cipher I-330, who shows him unbelievable things. Makes him feel things he shouldn’t, like love.

Classic/Canon

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most challenged/banned books, but it shouldn’t be. It’s an amazing story about racism, gender roles, social classes, and the human condition. It follows six-year-old Scout, a young girl living in the south in the sixties. One summer, Scout and her brother Jem make the acquaintance of a boy named Dill, and they all become best friends. This sets off a wild chain of events, starting with Boo Radley and ending with a broken arm, and a lot of adventures in between.
The Bell Jar is a tough book to read, but it’s worth it. If The Fault in Our Stars is my favorite contemporary, The Bell Jar is my favorite classic. I first read this book when I was twenty-one years old, and it really resonated with me. It’s about a woman named Esther who is studying English at an all-women’s university. She lands a summer job in New York working for a women’s magazine, which really triggers her descent into depression. As Esther floats from hospital to hospital, we don’t know how the novel is going to end until it does.


I really hope you were able to find at least one new read from that list. Let me know in the comments if anyone of these look interesting, or if you’ve loved some of these, too!

19 thoughts on “Must-Reads for Every Genre

  1. A lot of excellent picks here! Dark Places is probably my favorite of Gillian Flynn’s books (and it’s loosely based on a real true crime case/killer, which makes it creepier…)

    Liked by 1 person

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