Books are a commitment. With exams coming up and our TikTok-length attention spans getting worse, it can be hard to completely dive into a book if you have no idea what it’s about.

The Gazette asked Western University’s Beyond the Books club executives and members for their five-star reads, so you don’t waste your time.

For fantasy: We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

We Hunt the Flame is set in a richly detailed world with a gripping storyline of discovery and self acceptance. Twists and turns along the way will keep you hooked until the end with an added bonus of romance in the most unexpected ways.

This is a great book for Western students because it is an easy novel to get into reading and is a fast-paced novel that won’t get boring halfway through. School is hard as it is, and this book is a fun way to distract yourself and wind down at the end of the day.”

- Ella Craig, first-year media, information and technoculture student, Beyond the Books member 

For horror: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia has quickly become one of my favourite books and I would recommend it to any reader who enjoys horror, mystery, science fiction or even fantasy. Set in Mexico during the 1950s, the novel follows the heroine, [Noemí], as she travels to the mysterious High Place after receiving troubling letters from her newly married cousin. 

Moreno-Garcia combines classic gothic tropes with commentary on colonialism, feminism and eugenics to create a story that is both terrifying and fascinating. Definitely not for the faint of heart, but if your goal is to get scared, this is the book for you.” 

- Annika Thornton, second-year English language and literature student, Beyond the Books vice-president 

For romance: Beach Read by Emily Henry

Beach Read by Emily Henry is my favourite new adult romance book and is what I consider a gateway book to the romance genre. The story follows writer, January [Andrews], as she reckons with a family secret the death of her father and struggles to meet the deadline for her next book. While trying to finish her book and preparing to sell her father's beach house, she also discovers that her former college rival, also a writer, lives next door.

This book is just as emotional as it is fun, and is a page-turner that makes for a perfect distraction from the craziness of school!”

- Annika Thornton, second-year English language and literature student, Beyond the Books vice-president 

For contemporary fiction: Normal People by Sally Rooney

Normal People by Sally Rooney follows Connell and Marianne through their transition from high school, where they build an unexpected and strange connection to one another despite being from completely different social groups. They are in and out of each other's lives, until they have to come face to face with the decision of how far they are willing to go for one another.

I recommend this book to Western students and anyone in their 20s because I think Sally Rooney does a very good job of demonstrating the challenging time period and changes that happen between high school and throughout university as we get to know ourselves as adults.” 

- Emma Griffioen, third-year sociology and criminology student, Beyond the Books president



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