books to try if you want to get into reading (in every genre)

2023, books


For a lot of people who want to read more or haven’t finished a book since GCSE English, the intimidating bit is knowing where to start! There are millions of books with millions of stories and how are you meant to know what you like and whether they’re any good or if they’re worth the money?

My first recommendation would to be to spend some time in charity shops or shops like The Works that do fantastic discounts and deals like 3 books for £6 and you can find some great popular titles as well as a bunch of books you will never have heard of, there really is something for everyone!

But if you’d like some more specific recommendations of books that are easy to read, aren’t too long (or intimidating!) and get a glowing review from me, I’ve collated a list of 10 books that I thoroughly enjoyed, a small synopsis and the genres they’re in – enjoy!

Blame – Jeff Abbott (mystery, thriller)

Jane was in a car accident with her best friend. David lost his life and Jane lost three years of her memory, unable to recall or understand why she and David had been driving on that road together and the events of the night he died. When a piece of evidence is found that suggests it wasn’t an accident at all, Jane can’t rest until she understands what happened to her that night and unveil the secrets around David’s death.

A fantastically gripping mystery that has you figuring out everything that happened along with the narrative – it’s a really interesting exploration into narrative as you wonder whether you can trust Jane’s perspective of it all. Highly engaging, incredibly clever and a very satisfying read.

The Shelf – Helly Acton (contemporary, feminism, romance)

Amy thinks her boyfriend is surprising her with a dream holiday to a mystery destination. She thinks he might finally be about to propose, but when he drops her off at a TV studio and she finds herself on a new reality TV show call ‘The Shelf’, to be publicly broken up with in the name of entertainment, Amy barely knows what to do with herself. Committed to something she never signed up to, Amy finds unlikely friendship in the other five newly-single women and they flip off the patriarchy whilst being set to ridiculous tasks to make them ‘more datable’.

I hated the concept when I initially heard about ‘The Shelf’, but when I saw raving reviews and got it cheap in The Works, I couldn’t put it down. I absolutely devoured this book – it’s heartwarming, funny and badass all in one. Written in a very easy style, I thoroughly recommend this as an easy step in contemporary romance.

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline (dystopian, science fiction)

When James Halliday passes away, he reveals that his fortune, the rights to his game company and all his property and possessions will go to whoever can find the Easter Egg in his VR game The OASIS. Five years later and billions of online users have a life on the OASIS – people can work, go to school and spend most of their life and money on the game and Wade is no different. He’s the first one to solve the first clue to find the Easter Egg, becoming famous overnight. But some want control of the OASIS, and they’ll do whatever they can to get it.

I only read Ready Player One last month and honestly, I can see why it’s become such a classic in the decade since it’s release. Written in an engaging but easy to understand style (as some sci-fi can be very intimidating!), the universe of the dystopian future and the OASIS is incredibly vivid and offers an intriguing insight to the value of integrity in a world where people will do anything for food tokens.

On The Other Side – Carrie Hope Fletcher (contemporary, magical realism)

Evie Snow has lived a long life and she is content. But when she finds herself in the body of her past self at 27, in front of the door of her first apartment, she can’t get in. She must lighten her soul enough to break through and she knows immediately she must share the three secrets she kept closest to her and how they made her into who she was when she died.

If fantasy feels a bit much to start off with, the magical realism in this book is so well integrated that I sometimes forgot about the ‘magical’ element and was totally drawn in by the ‘realism’! With a cast of really sweet characters, ‘On The Other Side’ is a lovely tale about the things we do for those we love, living with regrets and following our dreams. It sounds a bit wishy washy but it really isn’t – it’s truly lovely and writing about it has made me want to reread it, which I hope speaks volumes!

Ace of Shades: The Shadow Game – Amanda Foody (YA, fantasy)

Enne has never been to the City of Sin, but when her mother goes missing, she’ll do whatever she must to find her. With her only lead being the name of a young man called Levi Glaisyer, she immediately becomes very lost with no inclination of where to start looking for the only family she has. Thrust into the world of street lords, gambling and con artists, Enne is a long way from home, but learns that the only way to make it in the City of Sin is to play.

I would argue that the fantasy in The Shadow Game series is so well written that it feels like magical realism – the blood talent’s described sound so tangible they could be real. Honestly, Enne is a little bit annoying at first but Levi is a wonderfully flawed character and how both of them grow over the course of the trilogy is just majestic. I listened to the whole series as audiobooks and I highly recommend this format, the narration is superb.

The Kiss Quotient – Helen Hoang (contemporary, romance, disability)

Stella is autistic and very happy in her life as an econometrician – numbers make sense, people don’t. So when her mother pushes her to start dating, the only solution she can think of is that she needs a teacher – so she hires an escort. Michael is a principled man that can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer – together, he teaches her everything on her lesson list on how to be a good girlfriend. But there’s only so much logic that can be applied to love.

I actually think this series should be compulsory reading to gain a better understanding of autism (especially the third book, ‘The Heart Principle’, where the protagonist is diagnosed as an adult). It’s a beautifully written dual-narrative contemporary romance and if you’re wanting to try something more mature than YA romance, the mature scenes in Helen Hoang’s literature are as spicy as they get. The whole series is so easy to devour and also offers an incredible insight to Vietnamese culture and migrating to the US!

A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder – Holly Jackson (YA, mystery, thriller)

Pippa is an incredibly bright student who sees potential in the closed case of the murder of Andie Bell – so she decides for her Sixth Form project, she’s going to do some digging. Meeting with the Singh family and hinting that their son did not murder Andie stirs a lot of questions and Pippa finds herself uncovering secrets that someone desperately wants to stay hidden.

I fully believed I wasn’t a mystery/thriller kind of girl… then I read AGGGTM. There are no words for how the narrative draws you in, desperately trying to figure out the case along with Pip and becoming evermore surprised at the lengths people will go to keep a secret. The definition of un-put-down-able!

The Mismatch – Sara Jafari (new adult, contemporary, romance)

Soraya has just graduated university and has no idea what she wants to do next. She never would have thought her future would involve someone like Magnus – her opposite in every way. An English girl with Iranian heritage, Soraya struggles to walk the line between her two cultures, feeling like she isn’t ‘enough’ of either of them. Her mother, Neda, felt much the same when she was her daughter’s age. Growing up fiercely intelligent in Iran, where being a woman in university was still very new, she faced her own hardships with her husband, leaving Iran and her place in her cultures. But neither could have expected the one who fits them perfectly.

A beautifully written, inter-generational family story told from both Soraya and Neda’s perspectives in two different time frames. The parallels between Neda’s life as a student in Iran and Soraya’s as a graduate in England were poignant, important and insightful as well as being told by very sweet, relatable narrators. I’ve not seen nearly enough people talking about this book and I think it’s wholly underrated.

Heartstopper – Alice Oseman (graphic novel, YA, LGBTQ+, romance)

When Charlie’s form changes to a vertical structure, putting boys from all year groups into the same classes, he meets Nick Nelson – a rugby lad from Year 11 who subverts every stereotype Charlie makes about him. As the boy who was inadvertently outed in Year 9, the bullying has mostly stopped for Charlie in Year 10. But together, Nick and Charlie help each other learn that there’s no one better you can be than yourself. Whoever that may be.

I was so unsure about graphic novels before I read Heartstopper but I’d seen so much hype (and I wanted to watch the Netflix show) that I had to see what all the fuss was about! Although initially I found it difficult to engage with the characters in a format that’s so much faster to read than prose, but Nick and Charlie are so easy to love. It’s the kind of story you can’t help but squeal and ‘aw’ out loud to. A truly beautiful YA romance with the sweetest character’s trying to navigate being themselves in a world of cut-throat teenagers.

Geekerella: Once Upon A Con – Ashley Poston (YA, contemporary, romance)

Elle adores classic sci-fi series ‘Starfield’, especially considering how much her parents loved it before she lost them. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a reboot movie, she knows she has to enter. With savings from her job at a food truck and finding an old costume that was her mom’s in the attic, Elle just has to figure out how to get past her step sisters, her step mother and all the odds to win that ticket to the cosplay ball at ‘Starfield’ convention ExcelsiCon. Darien has been cast as Prince Carmindor – the courageous lead of the ‘Starfield’ franchise. But the fans have written him off before they’ve even seen the film – just another celebrity pretty boy. If only they knew how he used to live for conventions. World’s apart, Elle and Darien have no idea who they’re talking to on their alias social profiles, but their world’s collide in more ways than one.

This series is so slept on! For all the nerds and the fangirls immersed in fan fiction, fan theories and almost compulsive engagement with whatever fandom floats your boat, ‘Geekerella’ takes what we know of a fairy tale story and puts a nerdy spin on it. With wonderful dual-perspective storytelling from two incredible protagonists, Geekerella is a fantastic story of friendship, team work and the best parts of being a nerd in the 21st century. Wholeheartedly recommend, the series only gets better (Bookish and the Beast is my favourite).

So there are 10 book recommendations for if you don’t know where to start with reading! Granted, there’s not as much genre variety as I’d thought there’d be if I’m honest (I just love romance!), but I think there’s a fantastic selection here that are all very easy to read and cover a variety of topics.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

read at your speed – comparison is the thief of joy

2021, books
Hello! Growing up, reading as a hobby was never cool – using the library was weird, reading in your own time was ‘nerdy’ and don’t get me started on fangirling over books. I was definitely the geek growing up but so were all my friends, so I actually had the opposite problem… I’m a slow reader (or at least, I was always led to believe I was!) – my friends would read a book every couple of days and I would take weeks just to finish one. No one ever made a comment about it but it always made me feel silly for not being able to read as quickly. Fast forward to today with kindles and goodreads and bookstagrams and I’m feeling the pressure to read faster from a different place – I can generally get through a book in a week, depending on the length of the book and how much I’m enjoying it, so my goal for the year is 25 books which is the equivalent of two books a month with one bonus, or roughly two books a week. Of the people I follow on Instagram and book groups I’m in on Facebook, some people have already read 50 books this year and have goodreads challenges of 200 books and that is baffling to me. I’ve read 10 books this year and I’m 5 books ahead of schedule for my goodreads goal but suddenly 10 feels like nothing compared to people who’ve read basically a book every single day. But I was surprised that it didn’t make me feel like I wasn’t reading fast enough – it inspired me to make more time to read my books at my own pace! I don’t have the time or energy to read a book every two days – I’m not someone who enjoys reading in the morning or on my lunch break (because I would never want to stop to go back to work!) and whilst I would love to spend my whole evening reading, I also like spending time with my fiancé! So I manage to read for a couple of hours a night before bed and in the past couple of nights I’ve read about 100 pages which is a lot for me! Ironically I’m not enjoying this book as much as the last couple of books I’ve read but it’s somewhat addictive and I can’t figure out how or why. It’s so easy to compare yourself and your progress to other people, whether it’s life goals, careers, holidays or even reading but here is your sign from the universe – you are exactly where you are meant to be in this moment. Reading, in particular, is meant to be a relaxing thing that is done for joy! Take your time to enjoy reading as a fun activity, whether you read 10 pages or 100 – it’s not about numbers. It’s about the way your eyes start to burn a little bit because you’re desperate to just finish one more chapter, it’s about the way you tell all your friends and family about the character drama because you’re so excited about it and the way we feel everything our protagonist feels. I’ve properly fallen back in love with reading and stories over the last couple of years – I love statistics and numbers, I love setting my goodreads goals and reading as many books as I can but it’s not about numbers; I love the stories and the amazing characters and getting lost in the words. Reading isn’t a race – read at your speed! Comparing the amount of books you’ve read is like a squirrel and fish comparing how many trees they climbed – climb your tree however you like! Was that analogy too weird?

Thank you for reading!

Sophie xx

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top 10 in my tbr

2019, books


I’ve blogged before about how reading was such a big part of my childhood and I’m really hoping to rekindle that love this year. I’ve set a goodreads goal of 12 books this year and I’m on track at the moment!

I’ve got a list in my bullet journal of some of the books on my shelf that I haven’t yet read (though I have just found another chunk of books that I have since added to my shelf!) and I thought I would have a little ramble about the books I’m most excited to read!

Genre isn’t something that normally sells me on books – I like fantasy adventure, I like romantic chick lit, I love dystopian fiction, I like magic and interesting characters and open discussions about taboos like mental health and disabilities amongst other traits that make characters a little bit different.

There are other books that I want to read but at the moment I’m not letting myself buy anything until I’ve read everything I’ve already got, so these are my top 10 books that I’m most excited to read from my ‘to be read’ list!

The book based on the cover and blurb alone seems like one of those Lord of the Rings-esque historical fantasy books and I used to be super into those. A lot of my books were bought from this discount warehouse my family used to go to on holiday when I was a teenager and I’m catching up on the books I bought then. This is one of them – I’m still intrigued by the concept even now I’m in my 20s.

On the other end of the scale, concepts of a human future where something drastic has changed is an interesting thing to explore in fiction – the Hunted explores a world where humanity has sacrificed fertility and children are a commodity (I think?) and I don’t know much more about it than that. I’m not sure how Shearer is going to explain how humans got to this stage so I’m really interested to see how thought out this book is.

The blurb seems like a stereotypical ‘boy meets wildly different girl and somehow they make it work’ but the main reasons I want to read this book are 1) it’s super hyped and I want to see if it’s worth all the positive reviews and 2) the cover is pretty. Mostly 2.

I wanted to write ‘I’m a huge fan of John Green’ and I am – I love the content he makes on YouTube and I still haven’t watched the fault in our stars movie because I loved the book and I didn’t know if it would translate well on film but I haven’t read any of his other books and I ‘looking for alaska’ is one of the only books I’ve never finished. Unless you count the books I was meant to read for my english literature a level. I know that when TATWD came out it got a lot of glowing reviews for its characterisation of mental health and I’m genuinely excited to read the book for that reason.

‘Fangirl’ stands as one of my favourite books of all time – ‘Carry On’ is the spin off, full length version of the fanfiction written by the main character. I want to reread ‘Fangirl’ before I read ‘Carry On’ but if they ever make a film of the book, I want to be in it. Just wanted to get that in writing.

Another one purely for the hype except I’m literally a decade late to the party – it’s a book I bought cheap and I want to see if I like or if I’m going to donate it to the charity shop but it’s another one with an interesting concept!

More hype/film adaptation hype. Lily Collins and Sam Claflin are in the film and I silently watched bits of the film over someone’s shoulder on a plane once and I liked the look of it. The main thing putting me off is the fact it’s a chunky book and I’m a fairly slow reader, but the picture of Lily Collins on the front is a good selling point.

The sequel to ‘if I stay’ which I think had a film adaptation that looked pretty rubbish, but I actually enjoyed the book a lot about seven years ago when I read it. I want to read both books in succession and remind myself what I liked about it. I always found it funny that by calling the sequel ‘where she went’ suggests an answer to the title of the first book ‘if I stay’ and that still makes me laugh.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t realise this was a sequel until I was finding the Amazon link but this one was a cheap buy with a pretty cover. ‘Be With Me’ seems like one of those easy read YA-chick-lit-esque books that I’d take on holiday or read after finishing a heavier book. Maybe I need to invest in the original!

Do I read most books because of hype and film adaptations? Potentially but I know very little about this book, but I love a sob story and ‘dying girl’ seems like a character that fulfils this desire.

Some of these books are really new, some of these books are a bit older but I’m really excited to read all of them – there’s only four books left on my reading goal for the year but I’m not limiting myself to only 12, if I want to start book 13 you can be sure I’m going to!

I’m currently reading Wilde Women by Louise Pentland and I’m thoroughly enjoying it – this series of books is really comforting and I whole heartedly recommend them if you enjoy watching family vlogs on YouTube because it’s like reading a cosy family vlog, I love it.

What books do you enjoy reading? Are there anything you think I’m missing out on? Let me know if you’ve read any of the books on my list!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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