Must Reads

Welcome to Angela Renea's list of must reads!

Basically these are some of my most favorite books that absolutely everyone should read at some point in their life!

1. Harry Potter by J.K Rowling.
I know that just about everyone in the world has heard of Harry Potter, and I'm sure at this point that everyone has either read them, or decided not to for whatever reason, but These books are beautifully written, and the story is timeless. This book series literally changed my life. Believe it or not, there was a time that I hardly read at all, and this book series changed all of that. I often tell my mother that she tricked me into being a reader with these books, and she just smiles and says you're welcome.

2. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
This is another children's series that I'm sure almost everyone has heard of, but I think that it's an important part of this list. They are short and easy reads, but the stories stick with you long after you finish them. The picture here is of The Magician's Nephew, which was not the first published but is the first chronologically. I know that there are a lot of different ways to read these books, but personally I really liked reading them in chronological order. They are a great starter series for new readers, old or young!

3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
This is also a children's book, but again it's one that I think has a great deal to offer people of all ages. It has all the magic and adventure of the Lord of the Rings series, but it's a little more readable. Basically it doesn't feel like you're reading a history book. Plus it's the prequel to the Lord of the Rings, so you'll have a background in that world if you ever decide to read them. Really though, it's a great book about Bilbo Baggins and I think everyone should read it often!

4. The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine
This book is so under appreciated. It is one of my very favorite books, and it is also one of my oldest favorite books. This is a wonderful adventure story that has everything! A quest, danger, love, sisters, fairies, magic! Best of all, it's main focus is on being strong because you are you, and the love between two sisters. It's from the author of Ella Enchanted, and it is another children's book but I still think it's more than worth reading!

5. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
My college roommate, Suzette, was a history major and she recommended this book to me, it is the first historical fiction I can ever remember reading and I'm so glad I did! I had actually seen the movie before I even knew it was a book but the book was so much better. It follows the life of a Geisha, a Japanese entertainer, as though it were an interview. It's beautifully written, and had some wonderful dynamic characters!

6. Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray
It crushes my soul that this book is so unknown. It is another historical fiction, but this time with a little bit of fantasy thrown in (yum!). It blew my mind when I read it and I nagged my roommate until she caved and read it too (and loved it!). It's about Cleopatra's daughter Selene's life after Cleopatra's death. I am not a history person, but this book made me want to learn about Roman history, culture and politics. I can not say it enough read this book!

7. The Host of Stephanie Meyer
I actually picked this up as a casual, long term, if I finish it good, if I don't oh well book. I had read Twilight and liked it, and expected a very similar, heavy romance with a well thought out plot. This book blew me away. I think it's partially because as a first person perspective we get a lot of thoughts and feelings that really make you feel for the main character. That and the basic plot was brilliant, balanced, and well planned out. Right now it's a stand alone novel, but Stephanie Meyer has said she might write more books in this world.

8. Beauty by Robin McKinley
My good friend Kate from high school recommended this book to me, and by recommended, I mean she handed me the book and said read it. It is, like it's name, a beauty. It was the first adult fairy tale retelling, and I think, the first romance I read. It was a really great retelling of Beauty and the Beast that gave me a whole new love of the story. I loved it so much, that years later I called her up asking for the name of 'that one amazing book you had me read'. (This was before the glorious times of Goodreads). Luckily she knew what I meant, and I was able to buy my own copy to reread any time I please!

9. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
I picked this book up out of loyalty, and I expected to come away disappointed. I didn't realize how much I missed Rolwing's writing until I had more of it. This book is nothing like the Potter series, but it has the same flowing writing, deep, and easy to relate to characters. This book was so refreshingly unapologetic and raw. I felt like I could sympathize with every character, and their motives and feelings, even if I really did not care for some of them as people. You can really tell that this book holds something that is very close to Rowling because the passion shines through the pages, and it's blinding.

10. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
I'm not even sure what genre this really goes into other than awesome. This was my first experience with Neil Gaiman, and I assure you it will not be my last. This is another one that I heard about via it's movie (which was also fantastic). I loved the fairy story feel to it, and it is full of mischief and adventure. I know that this story has several medias (book, graphic novel, movie, audiobook, perhaps more?) and each one adds it's own flavor to it, so even if you read the graphic novel, or listen to it on audio book this is a wonderful story. 

11. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 
This is more of an adult mystery thriller I think, and not something I usually read. (By adult I do not mean adult I just mean not children's, teen, or YA) My sister got this on one of her massive trips to Barnes & Noble, flew through it, and insisted I drop everything I was doing to read this book this second. I'm glad I did because without giving anything away, it was jaw dropping good. I did not see any of this coming, and I loved it. It is one of those books that has more than earned it's spot as a bestseller. 

12. King Lear by William Shakespeare 
Speaking of bestsellers, this is a less well known play by the original bestselling author! I haven't read a whole lot of Shakespeare, but this play is by far my favorite. Nothing against Romeo and Juliette or Julius Caesar but I just wasn't feeling it. This play is about a king and his three daughters, and well, a whole bunch of crazy people. It's tragic, it's hilarious, it's touching. Give it a try, even if you don't think that you like Shakespeare, this a great classic to read. Bonus if you can find it referenced in modern media after you read it! 

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