The beginning of the school year can be extremely stressful, with loads of notes to take, homework to finish and densely written texts to decipher. However, it’s good to remember that every now and then you can take a break and relax. While there’s the option to watch a TV show or a movie, another great way to wind down is to pick up a book.

Believe it or not, there are books out there that can be read for enjoyment and not just for class. To help you find some of these books, here are a few examples from a variety of genres that can help you escape the chaos of the beginning of the year and transport you into an entirely new narrative.

Contemporary “Geekerella” by Ashley Poston

“Geekerella” is a Cinderella retelling in a wonderfully nerdy spin-off. In this version of the fairytale, Elle Wittimer has been saving up to attend a cosplay convention for her favorite movie called “Starfield.” This convention will be particularly interesting because of the controversial casting of Darien Freeman as a lead in the new movie. In the most adorable fashion, “Geekerella” shows so many different levels and kinds of nerdiness set to the tune of a great classic story. If you like retellings, enjoy movies like “A Cinderella Story” or love geeking out in general, this book is definitely for you.

Historical “Salt to the Sea”by Ruta Sepetys

In 1945, toward the end of World War II, the ship Wilhelm Gustloff was sunk in the Baltic Sea, killing over 9,000 of the 10,000 people on board and making it the greatest maritime disaster in history. After being heavily researched by the author, this work of fiction follows four very different people aboard this ship. It shows how they handle the situation and how they hope to survive. It’s a historical fiction that’s very moving, brutal and expertly written.

Thriller “We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart

This storyfollows four friends who call themselves the Liars during the summers they have spent together on a private island. Follow the adventures and ideals of these four wealthy kids as they grow together. It is a very short work, less than 300 pages long, and can be read in one sitting. Not much can be said about this book without giving things away, other than it’s a masterpiece of suspense. If you were to ask someone about what happens in this book, especially the ending, chances are they will straight up refuse to talk or will lie to you about the end to preserve the experience for you.

Psychological “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer” by Michelle Hodkin

“My name is not Mara Dyer, but my lawyer told me I had to choose something…” If you are looking for something that will crawl its way into your mind and occupy your thoughts, this is the book for you. It’s strange and suspenseful, and it will keep you guessing at what’s real and what isn’t. Mara Dyer and her family move to Florida after an accident that involved Mara and resulted in her friends’ deaths. Shortly after moving, unexplainable things start happening. She struggles to determine what’s real and what’s a hallucination from her post-traumatic stress disorder. Written in first person and past tense, the narrator is unreliable, which just adds to the overall deceptive qualities of the book. This book is the first in a trilogy that gets better with each addition.

Fantasy “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo

Not only is this book a great example of original fantasy, but it’s also an incredible heist story that will keep you from putting the book down. Kaz Brekker’s one of the best criminals in the city of Ketterdam, and he assembles a team of six teens to take on an impossible task: pulling off a heist in one of the most secure prisons in the world. Leigh Bardugo is the author of the “Grisha Trilogy,” another series that takes place in the same world as this book. However, the trilogy and the “Six of Crows” duology don’t need to be read in any particular order.

Urban Fantasy “City of Bones” by Cassandra Clare

“City of Bones” has been around for some time now, but this is the book that started a litany of other amazing books. In this novel, Cassandra Clare creates a world where some of the classic mythological creatures like vampires and werewolves are real and live in secrecy among the rest of the world. Along with these supernatural beings are Shadowhunters, people whose job it is to rid the world of demons. The story follows Clary Fray, a normal girl who stumbles into this new side of reality and discovers so much about herself and the dangers of what’s happening around her. Since the release of this six book series, there has been another complete trilogy, two books in another series, a movie, a TV show and plans for future books all set within this world the author has created. Start with this book, and to continue reading these books, just read them all in publication order. The intricacies and humor will amaze you.

Dystopian“Red Queen” by Victoria Aveyard

There are a lot of dystopian books floating out there, but there are rarely any as good as “Red Queen” by Victoria Aveyard. This is the first book of four, and its characters are divided into unfair societal classes according to the color of their blood. While the Reds are the common people and live in poverty, they are ruled by the Silvers, who possess incredible powers. Mare Barrow is a Red, but when she accidentally falls into a situation that should have resulted in her death, she instead discovers that she has abilities of her own, something that shouldn’t be possible. With this discovery, Mare is thrown into a situation where she can either sit on the side and become a puppet for the Silvers or risk her life by using her position to help the Scarlet Guard, the group of Reds determined to rid the country of the corrupt government.

The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch.

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