Ten Standalones That Will Make You Like Reading Again

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It can be hard to find time to read during the semester, especially when everything on your TBR list is part of a series! Not to worry, there are plenty of books that will not only be a quick page-turner, but also reignite your love for reading.

To start off the list, though February is hardly the time for a beach read, if you’re missing those summery page-turners full of intrigue and mystery, you’ll love to delve into these:

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
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Winning the Goodreads Choice Award for Young Adult Fiction in 2014, We Were Liars was quite the hit the year it came out (and has continued to intrigue readers since). The story follows four teenagers at the center of a wealthy but dysfunctional family, and the many summers spent on their private island. 17-year-old Cadence (the most unreliable of narrators ) suffered memory loss from an accident and spends the entire book trying to uncover the secrets her family members are keeping from her.

With Malice by Eileen Cook
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If you’re a fan of We Were Liars, you’d enjoy With Malice. This book centers on another teenage girl with extreme memory loss. The difference here is that 18-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital and learns that not only does she not remember the last six weeks of her life, but she is also suspected of murdering her best friend. Knowing in her heart that she couldn’t have been responsible, Jill struggles to figure out just what happened on her school trip to Italy that summer.

If you take your beach reads with a little less intensity and a little more realism, try these:

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
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Among the greats of young adult romance novels, reviews call All The Bright Places a combination of The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor and Park. The story follows two teenagers as they grapple with mental health issues and find solace in one another. It makes for an easy read and you can revisit the story with the 2020 movie adaptation once you’re done!

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
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Another well-known and well-received novel is Where’d You Go, Bernadette, which tells the story of Bernadette Fox after she has gone missing. Her 15-year-old daughter Bee spends the majority of the book trying to piece together her mother’s past through a series of emails, letters, notes, etc. This offbeat and quirky novel is sure to keep you reading to the very end!

Now, if you’re really in need of one of those finish-in-one-sitting guilty pleasure types of stories, here are some great options that can easily be read in the span of a few hours:

Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams
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A perfect example of mistiming and miscommunication, Our Stop is a love story between two people who have never met. Set in London, Nadia and Daniel get the same train on the way to work every morning, but somehow keep missing each other. Through a series of ads in the newspaper’s “Missed Connections” section, coupled with the occasional message through mutual friends, their love story is a bumpy adventure that you won’t be able to put down.

The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger
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Everybody needs a good high school coming-of-age romantic comedy. Though the 2015 movie adaptation is very well-known, it took a lot of liberties from the book, making the stories very different. Aside from a storyline that is not very fitting for a PG-13 movie, The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend offers an even deeper dive into the dynamics of friendship, family, and love. And it’s such an easy read that before you know it, it’s over.

For a feel-good coming-of-age romance that offers LGBTQ+ representation and a good laugh, the next two books were wildly popular this past year and are sure to make you smile:

“Red, White, & Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston
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Goodreads Choice Award winner for romance, this 2019 novel is such a fun romantic comedy that you won’t want to put down. Red, White, & Royal Blue follows the First Son of a female President and the Prince of England as they go from hating each other to forming a clandestine relationship. Warning: the cute and fun escapades that follow will make your heart swell.

“You Should See Me in a Crown” by Leah Johnson
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Johnson’s debut novel You Should See Me in a Crown took the world by storm in 2020, earning many awards and recognition for its lighthearted enjoyable storyline about a Black queer teenage girl who just wants to make it out of her small midwestern hometown. Couple that with the main character becoming immediately enamored with the cool, alternative girl in school, and you’re in for quite the heartwarming ride.

If you really just can’t get enough of the fantasy genre, but can’t bring yourself to read an entire series, two bestselling fantasy authors came out with standalones this year and readers can’t stop talking about them:

“The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” by V. E. Schwab
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Published in October of 2020, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue was an instant bestseller nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Fantasy. It follows an eighteenth century French girl named Addie who makes a rash bargain and ends up being forgotten by everyone who has ever met her. Resolved to living a life of solitude, 300 years pass before someone finally remembers her name. And yes, that someone has secrets, too.

“Ninth House” by Leigh Bardugo
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Closing out the list with a book that technically isn’t a standalone, the sequel has yet to be released, so there’s only the pressure of reading one book when it comes to this 2019 Bardugo hit. Ninth House follows Alex Stern as she is tasked by a mysterious benefactor to investigate the secret societies of Yale University. The story is the quintessential dark academia, and is sure to be quite the page-turner for fans of Gothic architecture and macabre adventures!

Trying to get out of your reading slump? Let us know which books helped you along your journey by tweeting us, @VALLEYmag, we’d love to see your favorites!

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