What are Penn State English Majors Reading?

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With the rising influence of social media on young people’s reading habits, it can be difficult to discern what books are actually worth your time and money. Social media influencers on “Book Tok” and “Book-Tube” often promote the same titles over and over again, creating a hype that’s hard to live up to. If you’ve been burned by a TikTok book rec, you’ve come to the right place. 

As constant literature consumers, English majors are the local experts on what’s happening in the literary world. Here are some must-read books (and some you can leave on the shelf) as told by Penn State’s own reading buffs. 

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A book I read this year that I absolutely loved was “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides. This genre was pretty new to me, as I tend to gravitate toward romantic comedies or traumatic stories of women. However, this was such a page-turning mystery/thriller novel. The ending is so unexpected and I really found myself loving the characters. The chapters are very short so it’s an easy read that keeps you wondering! So, so good. You literally can’t put it down. 

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One book that I loved was “Rant” by Chuck Palahniuk. It was honestly such a weird book, but it was exactly the break I needed from the classic literature I typically read. I also thought the twists in the story were really unexpected so it definitely held my attention. The writing is in an interview format so it was also interesting to look at visually. 

I didn’t love “The Circle” by David Eggers. It didn’t bring much new to the genre of dystopia for me. It also sort of rambled and, in my opinion, could have been so much shorter. 

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For the first time in a while, I picked up a book — “Writers and Lovers” by Lily King — and didn’t want to put it down. The narration has the best, personal voice and the story was gripping throughout. Since I’ve read it, I’ve been looking for something just as good! 

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I recently read “Beloved” by Toni Morrison and really liked it. I thought it was beautiful. Also “The Silent Patient” was a stand-out that I’ve read in the last month. 

Unpopular opinion, but I also recently read “Good Omens” by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman and I didn’t connect with it like I thought I would. 

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I loved “Dawn” by Octavia Butler and “The Mysterious Affair At Styles” by Agatha Christie because reading them made me feel like I was watching a movie. Lots of books do that, but years later I remember lines, scenes, images and everything.

Some other books Sophie recommends: “The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson and “Her Body and Other Parties” by Carmen Maria Machado.

Which books are you adding to your TBR? Tell us on Twitter, @VALLEYmag!


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