12 Books to Add to Your Reading List

collage of book covers

This year especially, we could all use the escape of a good book. The 2020-2021 International Officers are recommending some of their favorites, ranging from moving memoirs and fantasy novels to a big horror classic.

Mariah’s Pick: Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

“Tara Westover tells the true story of her upbringing in this riveting novel. Tara grew up deep in the mountains with her siblings and parents, spending her days helping her dad farm, preparing for the end of the world, or being a midwife assistant to her mother. The one thing she didn’t do was go to school. While ‘no more school’ is a concept many children may like, Tara often wondered what was so bad about school and why she wasn’t allowed to go. An emotional journey, Tara’s story takes us all the way through her adulthood as she discovers the importance of an education.”

Lavada’s Pick: Of Stone and Rope by Darius Ajai Frasure

“I think if you love poetry, you will love Darius’ take on it as well. It’s a short but great read.”

Victoria’s Pick: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

“This book completely transformed by perception on team building. It is comprised of two parts: a fable — a story about a fictional Silicon Valley tech startup adjusting to a new leader — and an explanation of the model Lencioni developed to explain the five dysfunctions of a team and how to beat them. I highly recommend The Five Dysfunctions of a Team to anyone looking to learn about leadership and team building in a straightforward, solutions-based, trust-centered way.”

Jacob’s Pick: The Shining by Stephen King

“This book is my favorite story from Stephen King (my personal favorite author). There are so many themes that the book explores that really paint a picture of an incredible story going into a variety of ideas. A classic horror adventure that everyone should experience.”

Lavada’s Pick: A Voice in the Darkness by Jeanna Celestine Lakin

“This is a story of her life and her surviving the Rwandan Genocide. She is an amazing speaker. After hearing her speak, I read the book. She is an extremely forgiving person, and that inspires me in my life.”

Mariah’s Pick: Tumbling by Caela Carter

Tumbling is set over the course of 48 hours for the U.S. Olympic Trials for the women’s gymnastics team. Some of these girls are brand new, while others are second-chance takers, and they all discover what it is they truly want over the two days they compete for the opportunity of the lifetime. While I am not an athlete, I could relate to this book on a deep level as it discusses how important it is to go after your dreams, standing up for yourself, and trying again. As a trigger warning, the book does cover anorexia and eating addictions.”

Elena’s Pick: The Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan

“I love the Percy Jackson & the Olympians book series. These YA novels are easy to read, accessible, and very fun for people of all ages. This series follows a young boy called, you guessed it, Percy, and his adventures as he dives into his new life as a demi-god. What I love about this book is that it is educational, promotes inclusivity, and encourages your imagination to run wild. I’ve begun re-reading these books during quarantine with my younger siblings, and we are having the time of our lives!”

Mariah’s Pick: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Wonder is an engaging read by yourself or a book you can read with your kids or younger siblings. The book chronicles 10-year-old Auggie’s first year in a ‘real’ school, after being homeschooled by his mom for years. While school can be hard for any kid, Auggie has a craniofacial abnormality and hopes to find friends who appreciate him for who he is on the inside, instead of what he looks like. Told through alternating chapters from him classmates, his sister, and Auggie himself, this book made me laugh, cry, and painted a true picture of why we all need to choose kindness.”

Jacob’s Pick: The Firm by John Grisham

The Firm is about a talented young lawyer heading into an experience that would test all of his skills. This comes from my second-favorite author, John Grisham, and gives an interesting story that delves into politics, lies, and outsmarting the larger establishment. It’s definitely a must-read for any book lover!”

Victoria’s Pick: The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

“This series has been my #1 quarantine read. The Dresden Files puts us in the shoes of an extremely unlucky professional wizard named Harry Dresden, but more than that, it puts us into the intricately crafted world of Jim Butcher, which includes wizards, no less than three distinct types of vampire, at least five distinct concepts of werewolf, Abrahamic angels and demons, the Celtic fairy court, and ghosts, oh my! It is definitely for adults and features some of the most graphic descriptions of violence I’ve encountered in my journey as a reader. That said, it also has some of the realest-feeling characters and most heartfelt moments, as well as Harry Dresden himself — a protagonist I relate to more than I’d always like to admit. If you love fantasy, gritty detective novels, and stories that aren’t afraid to be vulnerable and explore how their characters are feeling, this series may be for you.”

Mariah’s Pick: The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

“This book follows 16-year-old Jessica, a high school student who was born to run. She has invested so much time into her sport, it has become her identity, and when a tragedy occurs that prevents her from running, she doesn’t know who she is anymore. This comeback story is unique and highlights the disability experience in a real and raw way — a perfect read for this month, since July is Disability Awareness Month. The topics of depression and mild addiction are also addressed.”

Lavada’s Pick: Presence by Amy Cuddy

“She has inspired me since she spoke at PTK Catalyst. I tend to read her book over and over to have a refresher and motivate myself to give it my all through my power pose.”

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