Since the beginning of the pandemic, reading has become a popular hobby due to having more free time, and not having the usual social obligations or leisure activities. As well as providing entertainment, reading keeps your brain active and engaged-possibly preventing Alzheimer’s and dementia. Indulging in a book reduces stress, expands your vocabulary, improves your memory, betters your analytical thinking skills, enhances your focus and concentration, widens your overall knowledge, and upgrades your writing skills. These are our top ten picks for 2021 so far:
1. Angel of Greenwood by Randi Pink-
Set in 1921 in the town of Tulsa, Oklahoma, 17-year old Isaiah Wislon is locally known as a troublemaker, yet has a quiet side as a reader, poet and a Black advocate. 16-year old Angel Hill is seen as a teacher’s pet and a church girl, so it seems the two would make an unlikely pair. However, when both are offered a job to bike for a mobile library, Angel cannot walk away from the money and later, Isaiah will find himself unexpectedly drawn towards her throughout the entirety of the plot. When they begin to discuss their political values, they realize they are on opposing sides for how to bring forward racial equality. Their focus suddenly changes when a devastating white mob leaves their town in ruins, and suddenly Isaiah and Angel realize the changes that need to be made in their community.
2. This Will Be Funny Someday by Katie Henry-
Teenage Isabel Vance has spent her whole life searching for a place to fit in. However, after fortuitously stumbling across a stand-up comedy club, she seems to have finally found her passion. Despite her parents, siblings, and boyfriend’s opinions, she’s eager to begin her career in comedy. Will she continue to hide the truth from her family and friends, or will she finally step forward and claim who she truly is?
3. The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe-
Nora O’Malley, daughter of a con-artist, has been lots of different girls. But as her mom falls directly into a scheme, Nora pulls the ultimate con, escape. After an awkward love triangle emerges amidst the confusion, they decide to meet in a local bank. Shortly after entering, they suddenly become one of the many hostages in a bank robbery. But she grew up with a criminal, and the bank robbers have no idea who they’re holding hostage.
4. This is Not the Jess Show by Anna Carey-(Book 1 of series)
It’s 1998 and Jess Flynn is just trying to get through her junior year like any other girl. But juggling a crush on her childhood best friend, helicopter parents, and her younger sister’s illness, is harder than it seems. When her town is suddenly struck by a mysterious virus, and Jess keeps hearing strange noises, she begins to get suspicious. If things couldn’t get any stranger, one of her closest friends drops a small black rectangle with an apple logo on it, and Jess can’t stop wondering, is her life even real?
5. The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold-
18-year old Nico and her dog are among the survivors of a Fly Flu pandemic that left the world a shell of what it once was. As they navigate the woods, they must work together to survive. Each of the survivors start trying to find love and life along the way in this new world gone dark.
6. The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna-(Book 1 of series)
In a world where the color of your blood determines your fate, 16 year old Deka nervously anticipates the ceremony which could finally incorporate her as a member of her village. When the day of the ceremony comes, her blood runs gold–the color of impurity. She knows if she stays where she has lived her whole life, she will have to face a consequence worse than death. But when she is presented with another option, she must decide whether to stay and accept her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor with girls like her. They are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threats. Wanting acceptance and yet fearing for the dangers ahead, she faces this new life head on, but nothing is what it seems to be, not even Deka herself.
7. Perfect on Paper by Namina Forna-
Darcy Phillips’s teenage job is charging for relationship advice, though her love life is a mess. But when Alexander Brougman finds out she is the secret force behind all the romance, she agrees to help him in exchange for keeping her secret-she’s been giving questionably legal advice. If anyone, especially her best friend Brooke, knew it was her behind the scenes, her friendship would be over. All she has to do to keep her bond with Brooke? Get Alexander back together with his ex-girlfriend. What could go wrong?
8. Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson-
Olivia has fallen in and out of love too many times to count. But after the last breakup left her an outsider wherever she went, she is determined to turn over a new leaf. A weekend at a Music and Arts Festival with her friend Toni is just what she needs. Toni is one week away from going to the last place she wants to be, college. Still grieving from her father’s death and confused on who she wants to be, she’s going to the same music festival that changed her fathers life, hoping to follow in his footsteps. When they both arrive at the festival, Olivia and Toni realize that they’ll need to work together in order to find and recover what they are searching for.
9. Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim-(Book 1 of series)
Shiori, the only princess of Kiata, must hide the forbidden magic that runs through her veins. But when she loses control in front of her step-mother, she bannishes the princess from the lands and uses her own dark magic to turn Shiori’s brothers into cranes. Not only that, but if Shiori tells the truth about what happened that night, for each one of her words, one of her brothers will die. Alone, she tries to find her brothers, and ends up hearing a scheme to overtake the throne even more cunning than her stepmother’s betrayal. Suddenly she must enlist the help of the very boy she was once hesitant to marry, and she must unleash the magic she has fought her whole life to contain.
10. You and Me at the End of the World by Brianna Bourne-
When Hannah Ashton wakes up to isolation with the exception of Leo Sterling, she realizes the apocalypse has taken out everyone in the world but them. With no outside expectations, they realize that they can finally be themselves. As their relationship grows, they find themselves in need of each other and cannot imagine being apart. But this quiet world is not all it seems to be, and if they don’t figure out what’s going on, they may be torn from each other’s lives forever.
Bonus: When We Were Them by Laura Taylor Namey-
From 15 to 17 years old, Willa, Luz, and Britton were inseparable. But come senior year of high school, Willa ruins it all. The week of graduation, Willa is left with a box of memories and tokens from their friendship, and can’t imagine how anything could have torn them apart. But looking back, Willa can’t ignore the moments where they were so codependent, their friendship began to fall apart. As Willa tries to find a way back, she must confront the question, who is she without them?
Expected publication November 2, 2021
We interviewed Ella Presley on her opinions and insights of the ten books we reviewed in this article.
Ella is a sophomore at Lafayette. Other than reading, she enjoys making crafts and riding her bike. She is a member of BETA Club, Student Council, Environmental, Club, and Chess Club.
Q: Have you read any of the books listed?
A: I have not.
Q: Which books are you looking forward to coming out/which ones sound interesting to you?
A: One of the books that interested me the most was “The Girls I’ve Been.” The whole idea of a girl who was a con artist and gets into mischief seems like it would make an intriguing story. I’ve always loved books that had to do with thievery, mystery, and cons.
Q: Which books are you specifically thinking will be most popular for young adults?
A: I think the most popular book on this list will be “Perfect on Paper.” The story follows a girl who helps everyone around her, but can’t truly help herself. I think the idea of a girl who has a sense of mystery and things going on behind the scenes will appeal to young adults.
Reading is an enjoyable way to spend your time, relax, and ease your mind-and it has many benefits. Besides helping teens do well in school, reading also helps them expand their horizons as they learn more about people and the world. Plus, reading can show teens that everyone has problems in their life and may even help teens see solutions to their own problems. These intriguing books by amazing authors are perfect and relevant for young adults to read.