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The Summit Pinnacle

The Student News Site of Summit High School

The Summit Pinnacle

The Student News Site of Summit High School

The Summit Pinnacle

Lauren’s Best Reads of 2023

I read 88 books this year—these five are worth your time
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Every new year, hundreds upon thousands of Americans set their New Year’s Resolutions, committing themselves to daily exercise, the newest fad diet or a ridiculously high GPA. I have never been one to partake in this cultural phenomenon, writing it off as a silly tradition for people who need extrinsic motivation to achieve their goals. 

However, in 2023, I decided that I was going to set my own form of New Year’s Resolution: a goal to read 100 books. Now, a year later, I have read 88. These books inhabited all sections of the literary spectrum—good, bad, average, worthy of throwing across my bedroom and all the places in between. And then, there were the special handful that could be described as life-changing. Below are the five books falling into that category that you should take the time to read, in the order that I read them.

“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Contemporary Fiction)

This was the first book I read this year and quite possibly the best. Cohesively blending the account of Evelyn Hugo, a famous actress now in her late seventies, with the perspective of Monique Grant, a young journalist writing Evelyn’s biography, this novel tells a story that dives deep into the world of 1950s Hollywood and forges an unexpected connection between the two women. Hugo is an unforgettable heroine—a bombshell with bleached blonde hair, timeless style and a life of fame and scandal—and her story is just as fascinating and complex as she is. You will not regret reading this book, and now is the perfect time—Netflix announced a screen adaptation of the Booktok-famous novel in March 2022, and although a release date hasn’t been set, fans everywhere are anxiously waiting for it to hit the big screens.

“The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini (Historical Fiction)

The first of Afghan-American novelist Khaled Hosseini’s four novels, this stunning account of war, family and friendship beginning in 1960s Afghanistan has received much positive attention since its release in 2003. The novel follows the protagonist, a boy named Amir, from Kabul, the place of his birth, to the California Bay Area and back again. With beautiful language, incredible and complicated character development, and a rich description of Afghan culture, Hosseini immerses the reader in Amir’s story, making them feel all of his happiest and most horrible moments deeply. Even if you don’t typically enjoy historical fiction, this book is a must-read and will leave you with a better understanding of war and the echoing damage that it leaves behind in a country and its people.

“The House in the Cerulean Sea” by TJ Klune (Fantasy)

I read this book for the first time a few years ago, and it burrowed into my heart and filled a hole that I didn’t know existed. This year, I returned to the cozy and wonderful world of “The House in the Cerulean Sea,” and if possible, enjoyed this visit even more than the first. With masterfully written queer representation, exquisite word choice and loveable characters, this heartwarming fantasy romance fulfills the reader’s expectations while also providing a fresh and unforgettable take on a much-loved genre. Klune has outdone himself with this novel, earning it a permanent place on my list of favorite books and in my heart.

“Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed (Memoir)

Since its initial publication in 2012, Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of thru-hiking and self-discovery rocketed to the top of the bestseller’s list. Strayed’s story spans not only the 1,100 miles from Mojave, California to the Bridge of the Gods, but much further, to Minnesota, New York and into the recesses of a shattered life. This is the story of “a woman with a hole in her heart” who finds the strength to put herself back together. This groundbreaking memoir satisfies both the outdoorsperson and the literature buff, though backpackers like myself should brace themselves for Strayed’s painful lack of preparation and hiking knowledge. If you enjoy this book as much as I did, consider watching the 2014 film adaptation under the same name, starring Reese Witherspoon.

“The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion (Memoir)

Famous American writer and journalist Joan Didion has long been on the radar of those in the literary world. However, her 19th book, published in 2005, is arguably the most influential. A startlingly honest exploration of grief, “The Year of Magical Thinking” weaves together years of memories to chronicle the year following the death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne. Didion’s writing is unparalleled, featuring rich prose supplemented with medical facts, research and literary quotes. This stunning memoir is the best of both worlds, blending aspects of the novel and nonfiction to create a literary work that’s definitely worth a read.

I hope all of Summit’s readers will add these five incredible books to their reading lists, and that those who don’t love to read will still give them a chance. In the meantime, I will be working towards my 2024 reading goal, once again 100 books. Will I make it? Who knows, but if this year’s books are as good as last year’s, it will definitely be worth the effort.

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About the Contributor
Lauren Shein, Staff Writer

Lauren Shein has been an avid reader and writer since 2nd grade, and is excited to dive into journalism this year with the Summit Pinnacle! At school, this sophomore staff writer can be found checking out too many books from the library, solving math problems, and running laps around the Summit track. On the weekends, Lauren enjoys exploring Bend’s local hiking trails with family, juggling an assortment of half-finished art projects, and petting as many dogs as possible.

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