With summer approaching and classes wrapping up, book lovers across campus, including myself, are looking forward to having some extra time to read from their ever growing “to be read” (TBR) list. But if you’re looking for something new to read, or simply want to ignore the unread books that are beginning to swallow up your bookshelf, here are five more books to add to your reading list, from my TBR to yours. 

“The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi” by Shannon Chakraborty

When I first heard “The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi” described as a historical pirate fantasy, I was sold. Chakraborty’s newest trilogy follows titular character and retired pirate Amina al-Sirafi across the Indian Ocean, as she goes on one final quest to rescue the kidnapped daughter of an old friend. However, things quickly get messy, and Amina soon realizes she is in over her head. 

What drew me to this novel, besides the piracy, is its focus on an older character. Amina is middle-aged and retired when the book begins, providing a unique perspective in a genre dominated by Young Adult (YA) book protagonists. I’m also interested in the setting –– Amina’s world is a fictionalized version of the Arabian Peninsula, and takes place in the 12th century, a time period I am particularly intrigued by. Moreover, the novel’s impressive 4.37 out of 5 star rating on StoryGraph promises a fun, fulfilling fantasy read. 

“Asiri and the Amaru” by Natalia Hernandez

While I’m not much of a romance reader, I stumbled upon this book after binge watching Natalia Hernandez’s TikToks and was immediately drawn in by the cover. “Asiri and the Amaru” blends fantasy, Peruvian mythology, and romance to create what the author describes as “a cozy Latin Fantasy Romance.” The story follows Asiri, whose magic allows her to speak with animals. When she moves to a new village to avoid her gift being misused, she meets Dario, the village animal healer and her hesitant love interest. As she tries to keep her magic a secret, Asiri and Dario discover a mythological Amaru, a double headed serpent from South American indigenous mythology, which they both are tasked with protecting from their superstitious village. 

“The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store” by James McBride

As a Barnes and Noble 2023 Book of the Year and one of Barack Obama’s Favorite Books of 2023, “The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store” has been on my list for a while. The novel begins with a discovery, when construction workers in Pennsylvania discover a skeleton discarded in a well. From there, McBride explores the lives of the Black and Jewish communities ostracized in Pennsylvania, focusing especially on how their lives and identities intersect and interact. While fictitious, the novel hones in on the real experiences of marginalized people in the U.S., and provides an honest, yet hopeful look at our perceptions of race, community, and reconciliation. 

“How to Read Now: Essays” by Elaine Castillo 

One of my goals this year is to explore more non-fiction options, and so far I have done terribly. If you can’t tell from this list, I tend to favor fiction, so I hope to expand a bit more into the non-fiction books on my TBR this summer. Luckily, I have the perfect option in Elaine Castillo’s “How to Read Now: Essays.” In “How to Read Now,” Castillo interrogates the way we read, questioning our values and biases as readers. She argues that reading can, and must, become more than we have allowed it. To Castillo, reading should be revolutionary, and I’m excited to delve more into what that looks like as I explore her work.

“To Shape a Dragon’s Breath” by Moniquill Blackgoose

Returning to fantasy, because I always return to fantasy, I want to end this reading list with a novel that is quickly growing in popularity. Moniquill Blackgoose’s “To Shape a Dragon’s Breath” is an Indigenous fantasy featuring dragons. Blackgoose’s novel follows Anequs, a young Indigenous girl living on the island of Masquapaug, which has been colonized by Anglish settlers. When Anequs connects with a dragon, a creature that has not been seen in her village for years, she must enroll in an Anglish dragon school to learn how to “properly” raise her dragon. As Anequs struggles to maintain her own agency and culture amidst the colonizing Anglish, she begins to develop a plan to push back against the occupying Anglish forces. “To Shape a Dragon’s Breath” has quickly become a favorite in the YA fantasy sphere, and I’m excited to learn what the hype is about.

No matter what you choose to read this summer, make sure to enjoy and to support your local library while doing it! If you don’t have access to a library at home, the Putnam County Library offers free library cards to DePauw students, and provides access to e-book apps such as Libby so that you can read library books from anywhere!