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beyond the cover

unforgettable reads for the summer

by Aaniya Akbar | 10 July 2023

Summer has come around once again and if you are the sort of person who wants to get into recreational reading but just can’t seem to get off your phone, this is for you. Books are filled with enthralling worlds and characters but getting into these fictional universes might be extremely challenging for a novice. That’s why we’ve curated a wonderful selection of a few must-read books to not only get you back into reading, but also entertain and help widen your horizons in various aspects of life. These books will take you on a fictional adventure that will captivate your imagination and surely give you the experience of a lifetime!

1. The invisible life of addie la rue

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a Brief synopsis

The story follows Adeline, a young French woman in 1714, when she makes a risky bargain with the Dark, who grants her immortality. However, as every power comes with its consequences, she is  cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets. For the next three hundred years, she wanders the world alone. Aware of her presence being a mere shadow, herself, being a wallflower, she observes the world around her. It’s a bittersweet experience, until the day she hears the words “I remember you”.

Why this book?

We delve into Addie’s life through a dual timeline of the past and present. The past Addie shows readers how she got in her current predicament, which answers the question: ‘Why did she desire immortality?’ As readers, we resonate with her and understand her deeply. Her younger self resembles a lot of us, with curiousity, thirst for adventure, and utter eagerness for new experiences. In the present version, we encounter a more mature version of the protagonist who knows the ways of the world. She scoffs at her past naïveté and has now gotten accustomed to being on her own – to being forgotten. 

The remarkable writing makes us believe we are travelling the world alongside her. We are immersed in the story from the very first page and the author makes sure to make us feel as if we are experiencing these new chapters of life just as Addie does. 

2. A good girl's guide to murder trilogy

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a Brief synopsis

Andie Bell was missing and presumed dead five years ago. The alleged murderer, Salil Singh hung himself just a few days after the incident. Hence, the case was considered closed. That is, until Pippa started her own investigation, convinced that Salil was wrongfully accused. She enlisted the help of his brother, Ravi Singh and together, they are adamant on uncovering the truth. 

why this trilogy?

This is the perfect series for beginners or someone who wants to get out of their reading slump. A murder mystery that has you on the edge of your seat. Pippa’s sheer belief that they convicted the wrong person is enough to make you question “Who did it? Is Andie even dead?” And the only way to find out is to read on. 

Throughout the book, every time you think you’ve figured it out, a curveball is thrown, a plot twist arrives and most of all, when you are sure you know who the killer is, your theory is debunked by the next chapter. It is an incredibly tangled web of secrets, with every detail somehow linked to one another. Your brain is actually forced to concentrate while reading this. You keep needing to know the answers, turning the pages without hesitation. Lucky for you, there are three books in this series alone.  

3. percy jackson series

a Brief synopsis

The book follows the life of Percy Jackson, originally just a troubled kid battling ADHD and dyslexia, before discovering the truth of his fraternal lineage. His absent father is in actuality a Greek god but it isn’t certain which one. He gets sent to a camp full of similar ‘halfbloods’ and he must navigate life as a demigod while mythical creatures and terrifying monsters are hellbent upon destroying it.

why this series?

One of my all-time favourite books to date. Each book is a short read that gets you catapulted into the world with such delight. You will find yourself yearning to become a demigod just like the protagonist despite every other sentence depicting the dangers they face. 

Percy is destined become your favourite character. With his quick wit and sarcastic humour, just his one liners alone will make you laugh out loud and make your reading experience genuinely humorous. Additionally, every other series the author has written coincides with this one to form a multiverse of their own. 

P.S: If you are a fan of Disney’s Hercules, prepare yourself for a change of heart because you will sighing in fustration after your mythological inaccuracies are cleared upon reading this book.

4. Sherlock Holmes Compilations

a Brief synopsis

The famous detective does not need much of an introduction. He is wickedly smart and reading his spectacular cases and intriguing stories will have you mimicking his dialogues and trying to replicate the inner workings of his brain. Alas, you can’t be Sherlock but you can definitely read about him and his exciting adventures, and try to solve the mystery before he can.  

why this series?

This series is one of the best if you are looking to improve your vocabulary and generally be a more intelligent person. You also gain a sharper memory after trying to figure out all the small clues scattered around the book and furthermore, you learn to be more attentive and attune to your surroundings.  

You can pick up any book to get this experience but a few personal favourites are ‘Study in Scarlet’ and ‘The Valley of Fear’.  

5. The Inheritance Games Trilogy

a Brief synopsis

The book follows Avery Kylie Grambs, a high school girl who lost her mom and now resides with her step-sister Libby. Avery has just discovered that Tobias Hawthorne, one of the biggest billionaires, has left her almost his entire fortune in his will, with little to nothing to his own family. However, Avery will not simply inherit the fortune. She must play Tobias Hawthornes’ ‘inheritance games’’.

why this trilogy?

Another Mystery! Watching the intrigue unravel is fascinating and the plot twists will have you turning the pages for more. With secrets upon secrets and riddles upon riddles you try to solve Tobias’ puzzle but you don’t even know what the final result is supposed to look like. Alas, you just need to turn the page to attain more clues.

Unlike other protagonists, Avery is not the typical teenager, She’s the embodiment of what most of us desire; intellect like hers and more significantly, the opportunity to become extremely wealthy and live out your dreams. 

6. Moxie

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a Brief synopsis

A great book that delivers a strong feminist message. The main character, Vivian is tired of the casual but all-too-normal presence of misogyny at her school and decides to start a resistance. She starts the magazine, Moxie, and soon starts to gauge the attention of the entire school in hopes to make permanent changes. 

why this book?

If you wish to delve deeper into social politics surrounding women, this book has an easily understandable premise and instructs people on how to become more considerate in their day-to-day lives. 

Everyone wants to change the status quo but they don’t know how. Moxie provides you with the comfort of knowing it is important to not only be the change, but to lead it as well. 

7. The song of achilles

a Brief synopsis

The story is told from the perspective of Patroclus, who exiled by his father to live in the court of Peleus, soon falls in love with his host’s son, the superhuman Achilles: from childhood, his demi-god status means he is faster, more beautiful and more skilled than all his peers. The story depicts their whole lives from start to finish, their feelings, emotions and their strong bond. 

why this book?

A book with more mature themes, this is one of the most heart-wrenching tales you will ever read, rivalling even the tragedies depicted in the great works of Shakespeare. Our two main characters’ love is never able to be easy or comfortable and the ongoing war that has called them will only make matters worse. 

The truest expressions of emotion are conveyed through Patroclus’ thoughts. He is a poet, not a warrior. And to emphasise it, here is a heart-felt quote: “He is half of my soul, as the poets say.”

8. little women

a Brief synopsis

This tale surrounds four sisters and their lives from girlhood to adulthood. Each of them depicts a different facet of feminism, Jo, Amy, Beth and Meg — all charming, outspoken women, whom we follow as they grow up and become their own people as they find their place in the world.

why this book?

Every feminist, and indeed every person should read this book. It shows the different types of feminism and how they are all so empowering for all young minds. One of the best quotes is: “Just because my dreams are different than yours, it doesn’t make them unimportant”. This is said by Meg when her sister tries to convince her not to marry. It so clearly demonstrates to the readers the distinctions of the four sisters and also shows how feminism is vast and different to every person. 

Furthermore, reading this classic can also enhance your vocabulary. The characters use strong words in interesting conversations making it easier for you to learn. 

9. an american brat

a Brief synopsis

Growing up in Pakistan in the 1970s, Feroza Ginwalla is precocious, impetuous, and increasingly affected by the rising tide of religious fundamentalism there. When her family decides to send her to America for a change of scenery and influence, a chain of amusing events and encounters ensues.

why this book?

This is the beautifully described tale of a Pakistani coming to America. If you’ve lived in New York or just want to know what it would be like, you will thoroughly enjoy reading this book. It doesn’t view the world with rose coloured glasses, but touches upon the reservations and anxiety felt by Pakistanis during the shift from Bhutto’s liberal era to Zia’s conservative one. 

The main theme of the novel is the identity and loyalty problems faced by younger immigrants, torn between their family, traditions and self-identity. While providing a fun read, it also holds an insightful message, especially for young Pakistanis.

10. Six of Crows Duology

a Brief synopsis

Six of Crows tells the story of Kaz Brekker, a brilliant but ruthless conman with a skilled crew of cutthroats, sneak thieves, and spies at his disposal. Kaz and his associates make their own way in a brutal world, trading in secrets, stealing for their own gain, and never looking back. They undertake an impossible heist to retrieve a powerful drug from the heavily guarded Ice Court. As they navigate treacherous alliances and personal conflicts, the team relies on their unique talents and unexpected camaraderie to infiltrate the fortress, evade its defences, and secure the drug. The high-stakes heist tests their skills, courage, and loyalty, leading to breathtaking twists and personal transformations along the way.

why this duology?

Despite its heist-caper structure, Six of Crows is a character-driven book and not a plot-driven one. This doesn’t mean there’s no plot, though. The heist needs to be pulled off, after all. What it does mean is that Six of Crows boasts unforgettable characters with distinct personalities and fleshed-out motivations.

In terms of diversity, Six of Crows has a wide range of characters you can imagine, ensuring that the author has not written representation as a handout, but actually has fleshed out all the distinct characters. 

11. hunting lila

a Brief synopsis

After a mugging exposes her unique ability, Lila decides to run to the only people she can trust – her brother and his best friend, Alex. They live in Southern California where they work for a secret organisation called The Unit, and Lila discovers that the two of them are hunting down the men who murdered her mother five years before.

why this book?

Like the previous book, “Hunting Lila” immerses readers in a world of fiction, filled with action and complications at every corner. Readers follow the protagonist as she struggles with her newfound power and its consequences, all the while hesitating to express her true feelings towards her brother’s best friend.    

The plot twist at the end will blow your mind and you’ll instantly want to know what happens next. Lucky for you, it’s a trilogy!

12. she's with me series

a Brief synopsis

A new town, a new love, another chance to stay alive. Arriving in another new town, Amelia Collins vows to fit in and finish her senior year drama-free. There can’t be any mistakes. Staying under the radar is what keeps Amelia one step ahead of the man who is trying to find and destroy her.

why this series?

This is a truly beautiful book that promotes friendship and comradery above all else. No matter your preferred genre, you’re most likely going to have a good time reading this action-packed, emotional, comedic masterpiece. 

The best part of this book is definitely the character relations. From our main love interests to their found family, the book does a great job of depicting the strong love they have for each other. 

13. better than the movies

a Brief synopsis

Your perfect summer read! The story follows Liz Bauman, a hopeless romantic awaiting her Prince Charming. Although, she’s greeted by his opposite every single morning. Wes, her annoying neighbour, has been her worst enemy since they were children. His resilience and persistence to annoy her is evident and amusing to everyone but Liz. One fine day, her childhood love walks through her school doors and she begrudgingly makes a plan with Wes in order to make her fairytale come true. 

why this book?

Our main characters are the exact definition of banter. They are quick-witted,  funny and their conversations are highly enjoyable. Their scenes are filled with humour, leaving you craving more of their interactions. You fall in love with Wes from the very beginning and grow to love Liz as well. Their scenes will have you constantly laughing out loud throughout the book.

This book provides a sense of realism and comfort. The best way to describe it is a 90’s romantic comedy. Yes, it has cliches and predictable scenarios, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s an enjoyable, entertaining and delightful beach read nevertheless.

14. we hunt the flame duology

a Brief synopsis

Inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame tells the story of Zafira, a legendary hunter who disguises herself as a man in order to travel into a dangerous forest to feed her people. The story also follows Nasir, the crown prince who acts as an assassin and is kept on a tight leash by his father.

why this duology?

How many times have you come across a fantasy book with Muslim main leads? Sadly, almost never. The Muslim representation and depiction is easily one of the best parts of this fantastic tale as it is rich with culture. 

This story carries an incredible message and characters that evoke a sense of ‘home’. They are comforting and you find yourself growing attachments to them very quickly. 

15. shatter me series

a Brief synopsis

Shatter Me is a dystopian young adult novel that follows the story of Juliette, a girl with a lethal touch who is imprisoned by the government. She later meets a boy named Adam who helps her escape, and they join a rebellion against the government.

why this series?

The writing style of Shatter Me is so unique as it is told from Juliette’s perspective, and her thoughts are often crossed out or repeated, which adds depth to her character. 

The characters are well-developed and have complex relationships that keep readers invested in their story. The plot is also intriguing because it explores themes of power, control, and rebellion in a dystopian society. Overall, Shatter Me is a captivating read that has something for everyone.

This summer presents a wonderful opportunity to dive into captivating books and embark on unforgettable literary adventures. When the desire for an escape strikes, these recommendations will transport you to new worlds, inspire you, and leave you yearning for more. From thrilling mysteries to heartwarming tales and fantastical journeys, there’s something for every reader’s taste and preference. As the sun shines brightly and the days stretch long, take advantage of this season to indulge in captivating narratives that will ignite your imagination and provide a much-needed escape from reality. Whether you’re seeking an emotional rollercoaster, intellectual stimulation, or sheer entertainment, the carefully curated selection of books we have mentioned have you covered! 


Author: Aaniya Akbar
Proofreaders: Shaheer Ali, Hamna Zahid


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Published: 10 July 2023
Last Updated: 10 July 2023
Written by Aaniya Akbar