This list is entirely subjective and are books that changed my life and how I think, but here is the list that I think everyone should read at least once. Okay, I don’t want to be the one, but I read for fun, and I can finish a book in a day. So, you would be correct to say that I’ve read my fair share of books in my time. I also did an English degree and currently working on a master’s in linguistic, so trust me when I tell you I know what I am talking about. So, without further ado, let’s get into this list.
1. Chanel Miller- Know My Name
If you only have to read one book from our list, then this is the one. Trigger warning for rape and sexual assault. This book was gut-wrenching, and you could feel Miller’s pain through her prose. She writes with such finest and confidence that you wouldn’t be able to tell that this is her first book. Miller was raped by Brock Turner, the former was passed out and was assaulted by the so-called college athlete and was saved by two Swedish exchange students.
This book details her life prior to and after this incident and delves into so much more. Her writing touches your soul, and she talks about how sexual assault and rape culture is perpetuated today. Do yourself a favor and read this book; get your tissues out because you will cry.
2. Judith Butler- Bodies that matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex.
Butler is an American scholar who writes about race and sexuality, and although she wrote several books and critical work, this is one of her books that impacted me the most. Butler’s theory of how cis-gender white male bodies are the most valued bodies in America is now more than ever a subject that we need to address.
With the Black Lives Matter movement and the rise in hate crimes against queer people, now more than ever, it is important to speak about injustices when you see them. Read this book and be outraged about how misogynistic, racist, and homophobic our society is. Butler deconstructs this heteronormative zeitgeist we live in, and this is what makes this book so great.
3. Wide Sargasso sea- Jean Rhys
Most people will have Jane Eyre in their list of must-read books, and I must confess as much as I love this book, I personally believe that Rhys’ novel sweeps it under the rug. Wide Sargasso Sea is a feminist and postcolonial prequel to Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. In this novel, we get to see the perspective of Antoinette Cosway, who is universally known as the madwoman in the attic. Rhys’ retelling is raw and tells the story of many people of color who were forcefully taken away from their homes. The book explores the power dynamics between men and women and discusses assimilation, race, and Caribbean history.
4. Mary Shelley- Frankenstein
Most of you haven’t read this book, and it shows, Frankenstein is the mad scientist/doctor and not the monster. Shelley is one of the original authors who put horror fiction into the limelight. I’d instead read Frankenstein than Stoker’s Dracula, though both stories have some pretty interesting homoerotic undertones. Shelley’s Frankenstein makes us question what makes a human, human, and what is humanity. But it also shows us what kindness and love truly mean. The book has something for everyone, but you should read it because it is part of canonical horror literature.
5. Benjamin Alire Sáenz- Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secret of the Universe
Okay, this is a personal favorite, and I read it when I was 13, the year it came out. When I tell you I sobbed while reading this book, I ugly cried because of this story. Trigger warning homophobia, hate crime, transphobia. The story is about two Mexican boys and how their lives change after they meet each other. Before meeting Dante, Aristotle is the lone wolf type, and Dante is the preppy and brainy one. You will fall in love with these two characters, and their parents are some of the best book parents out there.
Read this book and go through a roller coaster of emotion as the character learns about themselves and their sexuality and how they come to terms with that. My favorite minor character from this novel is Aunt Ophelia (come back to this when you reach that part of the novel). Having said this, the highly anticipated sequel to this novel just came one, and I recommend you binge-read them back to back for the perfect reading experience. Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World is out now, and you should read it too.
Sound off in the comment section below and tell us your favorite book that you think everyone else should read.