• Janelis Medina

Top 10 Best Book Recommendations I Have Gotten From Friends

So while I would love to take credit for choosing all my book choices, I actually have a few close friends who are avid readers and constantly recommend or lend me books that I need to read. I have two friends in particular that I always go to for book recommendations. Kimberly is the one I go to for new releases and young adult book series. My other friend, Cathryn, is the one that often sends me classics and historical fiction. It is perfect because it is very rare that they both recommend the same book, which means I get twice the amount of recommendations.

Of all the books or series that were either purchased, lent, or recommended to me, these are the top 10 best books:

1. Harry Potter Series - J. K. Rowling

This one was recommended to me by my friend Cathryn. I have to admit, I only just first read this series in 2018 (the horror!). I don’t know if anyone else grew up in a religious Latino family like I did, but for years when Harry Potter was released, it was considered demonic so I actually wasn’t allowed to read or watch. Now I can understand why people are still huge fans of it even today because it really is worth the hype. While other series seem to get weaker as series go on, this was the exact opposite, only becoming more captivating and complex by the time you got to the last book. I loved the characters and the different spells and I mean come on, a wizard school? Potions class? Spells and Hexes? Yes please! Sign me up!!

2. Red Queen Series - Victoria Aveyard

This one was recommended to me by my friend Kimberly. She actually recommended this to me at least once every few months. When I finally read the books, I could see why she was such an advocate because it was just such a fun read. It was clear the author really thought out her characters and their different powers. I think the main character, Mare, is a great antagonist because she’s not just some young girl who’s different and looking for someone to love her. She is strong, brave, and driven and even when she’s being stubborn, it’s only because she believes in her vision so much that she won’t let anyone (not even some boy) to deter her from what she wants to accomplish.

3. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

This one was recommended to me by my friend Cathryn. I had heard of the movie and heard whispers of a book, but I didn’t think it would be a book I would ever, I mean EVER, be interested. When I told Cathryn I wasn’t interested in reading, I thought she was going to beat me down with her copy of the book. I think Dan Brown has like mastered writing about the ultimate puzzle in a way that even when he introduces the craziest conspiracy theory, he writes it in a way where even you start to believe it yourself. While The Da Vinci Code wasn’t my favorite of the series, if I hadn’t gotten a chance to read this one I would have never went for the next books, Inferno and Angels & Demons, which in my opinion were one of the best books I read in 2018.

4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson

This one was recommended to me by my friend Kimberly. This was another book that I really didn’t think I would enjoy because it was more like crime and mystery, which usually isn’t my go to genre. I am glad I read though because I think it was just such a thrilling read trying to figure out if Mikael and Lisbeth were going to be able to solve the mystery of Henrik Vanger’s niece’s murder. I couldn’t put the book down because it was just extremely well written and Lisbeth was a unique character where she was so different and weird, yet you couldn’t help but cheer for her as she continued her hacking and case-solving. It felt so different at the time because The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is all about the details and you can't just skim through the book because those details will come back later and make sense. Even with the crazy twist at the end, it doesn’t feel out of place at all, just a satisfying conclusion to a cold case.

5. It - Stephen King

This one was recommended to me by my mother because she is a huge Stephen King fan. Before reading this, the only kind of horror books I enjoyed (and still enjoy) reading were anything zombie related. However, this book showed me how thrilling reading a horror novel could be. I loved how it switched between times, as the same group of children who faced “It” before had to once again band together and defeat him as adults. He truly was a creature of nightmares and I loved the addition of how adults couldn’t even tell that he existed, so it was more of a threat to the children of Maine. I think this may have been one of Stephen King’s best novels.

6. Omega Days Series - John L. Campbell

Shockingly, this one was actually recommended to me by my non-reading husband. In 2016, we went to Boston Comic Con and while there, he wandered off and came back with the first four books of the series. I had never heard of John L. Campbell or the series, but since he knew I loved zombie books, he thought I would really enjoy these. (Yeah, he really is the best husband ever, I know). I was shocked at how incredible this series was. I loved the group of survivors, the zombies, and as the series progresses, the mutations. It felt so realistic and terrifying all at once and I was constantly at the edge of my seat. So great job honey, I loved this one!

7. Educated - Tara Westover

Another non-reader, this one was purchased as a gift for me by my friend Angelica. She probably read 1 book in all of 2018… and I'm pretty sure she didn’t even finish that one. So no one could blame me for being skeptical, but she knocked it out of the ballpark with this one because I couldn’t put it down! I was shocked to know that Tara had never been to school and grew up in such an unconventional home and even more shocked to learn that she wasn’t telling a story from the 50’s. This happened more recently which only comes to show that while the U.S. thinks they're the best country in the world, they know very little about the setbacks in their own backyard. If it wasn’t for Tara’s drive to learn and escape her family, she would have remained the uneducated and misguided girl her parents raised her to be.

8. A Series of Unfortunate Events - Lemony Snicket

This was recommended to me by one of my teachers in 5th grade and then later supported by my mother who helped me purchase all 13 books. I know this one is supposed to be a children’s series but I don’t care. I used to actually have nightmares that Count Olaf was chasing after me in that hotel of never ending rooms from book 11… because clearly he was after my immense book fortune!! Lemony Snicket manages to write all 13 books in a way that is both repetitive and completely unique. It’s the same pattern, the Baudelaire orphans are on the run, Count Olaf does a disguise no one notices, he tries to kill them for their fortune. However, in every book, it is set in a completely new location, with new rules, new disguises, and new characters. When this became a Netflix show, I knew my prayers had been answered!

9. The Nightingale - Kristin Hannah

This book was recommended to me by my friend Kimberly and with her successful track history, I didn’t hesitate to hunt this book down. I was so pleased with the choice to read this book because I was immediately immersed in the story that Kristin Hannah wrote. The story follows two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, as they are trapped in war-torn France as Germany invades and the Nazis take over. Most stories that focus on the destruction brought on by Nazis are usually set in Poland or Germany, and I think this was an eye opener because I tend to forget that for a time, France was also Nazi-occupied. I loved reading these two brave sisters find ways to keep their humanity and help others along the way, no matter the propaganda that is fed to them.

10. Crazy Rich Asians - Kevin Kwan

This book was recommended to me by my friend Kimberly indirectly. I kept seeing the book series available in bookstores but it wasn’t until Kimberly watched the movie and told me how fun it was that I had to pick up the books and see for myself. Kevin Kwan does an INCREDIBLE job bringing all these characters to life. I felt like I gained several new (crazy rich) friends when reading and became way too invested in the story to the point that even I was like “I can’t believe she would have the nerve to wear last season’s dress to the party - just jump on your private plane and do a quick shopping trip in Paris to get the latest couture”. Looking back in my closet and seeing my clothes from TJ Maxx humbled me real quick though because ya girl ain’t going to be affording couture anytime soon. Overall, this book didn’t teach me any lessons or have the most complex plot, it is just a really fun and entertaining read that has the right amount of humor and drama to make it a perfect guilty pleasure read.

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