Books to read during remote learning

Sallaria Ansong

The start of a new school year usually means an abundance of late-night studying, homework, and extracurriculars. Unsurprisingly, free time to curl up and unwind with a book is scarce. Plus, no one wants to waste time on a lackluster and overhyped story. In light of this, here is a list of great books that won’t let you down- even in the middle of remote learning.

Under fair use from Goodreads

“A Song Below Water” series by Bethany C. Morrow

This ethereal fantasy is about a girl named Tavia. Though she is already oppressed by her society, being one of the few Black people in Portland and a girl, Tavia has a huge secret: she is a siren with powers growing within her. However, once Tavia inadvertently lets out her magical voice, Portland is no longer a safe place for her. While sometimes it seemed like the story lacked focus on Tavia’s identity as a siren, the inclusion of politics gave the story some edge and complexity.

A tasteful mix of contemporary social standards and injustice with interwoven mythical elements, “A Song Below Water” is an exquisite, whimsical read that will take your mind off Zoom and transport you into a new world. 

This book is available on the Digital Library of Illinois

4.5/5 stars

Under fair use from Goodreads

“It’s Kind of a Funny Story” by Ned Vizzini and Rachel Cohn

Ned Vizzini’s “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” highlights the growing stress and pressure faced by the young generations today. Craig Vilner, an ambitious teen who is accepted into “Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School,” is overwhelmed with loads of pressure from the intense competition, and he ultimately attempts to commit suicide. In light of his mental illness, Craig admits himself to a mental hospital where he meets a variety of different people and realizes that someone always has it worse than he does. The other patients Craig meets are a bit over-exaggerated, but nonetheless, bring more perspective and representation to the story. 

With raw and emotional bits of light humor, Vizzini delivers a touching story of a young teen’s inspirational experience. 

This book is available on Sora.

4/5 stars

Under fair use from Goodreads

“Flawed” by Cecelia Ahern

Taking place in a dystopian society that values perfection over everything, this novel draws readers into a powerful journey of a young girl against an oppressive society. Celestine North lives the perfect life – perfect family, perfect grades, perfect boyfriend – until one day, she makes a spontaneous decision that could turn her into an outcast. 

Celestine’s obstinate will and her fight against submission in society propel the plot at a perfect pace. While the beginning of the book was slow and a bit bland, Celestine’s hardships bring a hint of emotion and take readers through an extraordinary fight against injustice. 

This book is available on the Digital Library of Illinois

4.8/5 stars

Under fair use from Goodreads

“The Truth About Forever” by Sarah Dessen

Written by notable YA author Sarah Dessen, “The Truth About Forever” is an inspiring read about a girl learning to break out of her perfectionism. Macy Queen is living with survivors guilt over her father’s death, and to assuage her grief, she lives as the “perfect” daughter, spending her Friday nights with SAT flashcards and volunteering at the library while her genius boyfriend is at brain camp. But when Macy is forced to face the unexpected, like her new catering job with the immaculate Wish catering company, Macy realizes that she and her mother have stopped living their own lives since the death of her father. Dessen’s light hand at a tender, slow-burn romance between Macy and the tattooed Wes fosters Macy’s growth as a character since both understand the grief that comes with the loss of a loved one. 

“The Truth About Forever” highlights the importance of moving on and living on your own accord. 

This book is available on the Digital Library of Illinois

5/5 stars

Under fair use from Goodreads

“One of Us Is Lying” by Karen M. McManus

Five students were in detention; only four make it out alive, making each of these students suspects for murder. McManus’s high school murder mystery highlights the drama and insecurities of students today through her use of multiple perspectives and accumulating apprehension. Moreover, each character is based on a common stereotype, yet each has a complexity that develops throughout the story.

With an engaging plot and suspenseful mystery, anyone would love this book. 

This book is available on Sora.

4.7/5 stars

Under fair use from Goodreads

“Before I Fall” by Lauren Oliver

This book is an authentic coming-of-age story about Samantha Kingston, the typical cruel popular girl who occupies the top spot in the social pyramid. Samantha dies in an accident on “Cupid Day” but she oddly wakes up the next morning and relives the last day of her life 7 times. Realizing that the small actions give her more power over her fate, Sam starts to build a strong and mature persona rather than the petty and narcissistic queen bee she started as. As stereotypical and cliche parts of the book could be, seeing Samantha make amends and become an exemplary role model makes “Before I Fall” an enjoyable read.

From the raw and honest character development to the vivid plot, this book is a must-read. 

This book is available on Sora.

4/5 stars

Under fair use from Goodreads

“I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter” by Erica L. Sanchez

Sanchez delivers a heartfelt novel about loss and grief in a Mexican family. “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter” is about a girl named Julia who loses her older sister, Olga, to a bus accident. Overcome with her family’s dependence on Julia to hold her family together, Julia faces constant criticism and pressure to live up to her sister’s standards. To learn more about her sister’s past, Julia, along with her best friend, seeks to uncover her sister’s story and legacy. Though the story was heartbreaking and relatable, Julia’s character is slightly arrogant and sullen, making it hard to relate with her and her journey. 

An emotional story about breaking out of cultural traditions and the pressures of holding everything together, “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter” is a great book to try out. 

This book is available on Sora.

3.8/5 stars

Under fair use from Goodreads

“10 Blind Dates” by Ashley Elston

“10 Blind Dates” is a hilarious and light-hearted story about a girl named Sophie who overhears her boyfriend’s intentions to break up with her. To cheer Sophie up, her huge and boisterous family sets her up on 10 blind dates over the holidays. While some parts of this book were predictable, Sophie’s close relationship with her family and sister gave this book some warmth and tenderness. 

The light humor and unexpected romance make this book a fun and delightful read. 

This book is available on Sora.

5/5 stars

All of these books can be found in the Digital Library of Illinois by signing in using your library card. Share your favorite books with us by leaving a comment, DMing us on Instagram @theconantcrier, or tweeting us @ConantCrier.

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4 Responses

  1. isha778@yahoo.com' Cyst R. says:

    I’ve never read any of these books before! I am glad you wrote this article along with where you can find these books online. I couldn’t figure out what to read. You are amazing!

  2. pateln24@yahoo.com' Cyst R. says:

    My favorite book is “Before I Fall”.

  3. 142022@g.sd54.org' #BeforeIFallFan says:

    OMG! I am a FAN of “Before I Fall”.

  4. nana.patel.09@gmail.com' causi. N says:

    Can’t wait to start reading these books!

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