Apache Literary Taste

Caroline Li, Staff Writer

Arcadia High School (AHS) students can access a myriad of books and academic resources at our very own school library. Outside of assigned reading and SAT or AP prep books, AHS students are voracious readers with a diverse appetite that ranges from manga to memoirs; here are the top ten most popular books checked out at the AHS library throughout January and what our students think about them.

  1. It Ends With Us

By Colleen Hoover

Please consider carefully before reading if you are sensitive to topics of abuse, domestic violence, rape, and assault.

Cycles exist because they are excruciating to break. It takes an astronomical amount of pain and courage to disrupt a familiar pattern. Sometimes it seems easier to just keep running in the same familiar circles, rather than facing the fear of jumping and possibly not landing on your feet.

My mother went through it.

I went through it.

I’ll be damned if I allow my daughter to go through it.”

Colleen Hoover, affectionately known by her fans as “CoHo,” is a TikTok sensation and The New York Times bestselling author whose books have been making their rounds through young adult and teen communities. Her books often discuss topics including but not limited to domestic abuse and violence, which may be disturbing to some readers. Although Hoover’s explosive success and alleged romanticization of abuse, trauma, and violence have received a fair bit of criticism from the book and publishing community, she at one point held six of the top ten spots in The New York Times bestseller list. In It Ends With Us, protagonist Lily Bloom struggles to extricate herself from her abusive boyfriend, Ryle Kincaid. Having grown up watching her father physically and sexually assault her mother, Lily struggles to take a stand and break the cycle, a common occurrence for individuals who find themselves manipulated and gaslighted by abusers.

“Lily is slay,” said junior Emma Chua, who had previously explained the entire plot of It Ends With Us to me through a series of Instagram voice messages. “I hate almost everything about that book, but it made me cry.”

Those who liked It Ends With Us might enjoy other works by Colleen Hoover, The Love Hypothesis, or One True Loves.

  1. Horimiya: Hori-san and Miyamura-kun Vol. 05 (Manga)

By Hero

“If the world was going to end tomorrow, I’d tell you I like you. Then I’d turn to space dust.”

Considering the rising prevalence of K-pop, anime, and East Asian culture in the West, seeing manga on AHS’ top ten books of the month doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Horimiya is a slice of life (a genre characterized by characters interacting in mundane, everyday life situations) romcom about high school students Kyoko Hori and Izumi Miyamura. Hori, a popular and excellent student, meets the reserved and laid-back Miyamura outside of school, after which the two enter a blossoming friendship and romance.

“I enjoyed Horimiya, as it teaches valuable lessons about friendship and looking past differences while exploring the drama and excitement of teenage romance,” said senior Ellice Kang who watched the anime adaptation of the manga series. “I like that slice of life is somewhat relatable.”

If you enjoyed Horimiya, you might like Nichijou, Wotakoi, Your Lie in April, The Way of the Househusband, or Toradora.

  1. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder

By Holly Jackson

“What’s wrong with me? … I might seem like the ideal student: homework always in early, every extra credit and extracurricular I can get my hands on, the good girl and the high achiever. But I realized something just now: it’s not ambition, not entirely. It’s fear. Because I don’t know who I am when I’m not working, when I’m not focused on or totally consumed by a task. Who am I between the projects and the assignments, when there’s nothing to do? I haven’t found her yet and it scares me. Maybe that’s why, for my senior capstone project this year, I decided to solve a murder.”

Five years have passed since Sal Singh, Pip Fitz-Amobi’s kind-hearted childhood friend, allegedly killed his girlfriend and then himself. In A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, we follow Pip’s story as she delves deeper into this “open and shut” case, determined to uncover the truth and prove Sal innocent—and that the real killer is still at large.

If you enjoyed A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, you might like The Rest Stop, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, or Gone Girl.

  1. Ender’s Game

By Orson Scott Card

“Perhaps it’s impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be.”

Andrew “Ender” Wiggin’s fighting doesn’t end on the battlefield; having grown up with a sadistic older brother and an obsessive overprotectiveness over his younger sister, Ender battles the forces of loneliness, legacy, and fear—all while having to defend his planet from alien attacks. Critically and publicly acclaimed, Ender’s Game has won the 1985 Nebula Award for Best Novel and the 1986 Hugo Award for Best Novel.

“Ender’s Game is such a wonderful, well-written novel that takes you on a journey through a young boy’s life,” said freshman Wesley So. “One thing I particularly liked about the book was how Orson Scott Card was able to create situations and plots that got you on the edge of your seat after every chapter!”

If you enjoyed Ender’s Game, check out the sequel, Speaker for the Dead, or books like Dune, Skyward, Divergent, and Ready Player One.

  1. Blue Box, Vol. 01 (Manga)

By Kouji Miura

Students who enjoy sports with a dash of romance (or romance with a dash of sports) might enjoy Blue Box, a manga series that’s a mixed bag of badminton, love, and stunning artwork. In it, high schoolers Taiki Inomata and Chinatsu Kan find themselves living in the same house and having to navigate the narrows of academics, athletics, and affection—together.

If you enjoyed Blue Box, you might like Haikyuu, Kuroko no Basket, or Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club.

  1. Not Here to Be Liked

By Michelle Quach

“Is it possible to be hungover from too much boba?”

Many high school students struggle to find time to squeeze activism into their overflowing schedules—and when they do, the term “performative activism” pops up thanks to the ease of sharing and liking informative posts on social media in order to conform to the norm or appear morally superior. Not Here to Be Liked explores the nuances of high school activism through Eliza Quan, an overqualified candidate for editor-in-chief who’s prepared for the position since day one. The book follows the drama that unfolds after she is beaten by Len DiMartile, a fresh newspaper recruit who Eliza believes only won based on his looks, likeability, and gender. As her troubles (accidentally) go viral, Eliza finds herself becoming the face of a new feminist movement just in time for her to realize that she has feelings for her supposed enemy, Len.

If you enjoyed Not Here to Be Liked, you might like Moxie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, or The Fault in Our Stars.

  1. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba―Stories of Water and Flame (Manga)

By Ryoji Hirano

Demon Slayer is a manga series by Koyoharu Gotouge detailing the adventures of Tanjiro Kamado and his younger sister, Nezuko, after their family is massacred by demons. The internationally bestselling series is known for its vivid fight scenes and darker subject material, with its final volume having sold over 5.17 million copies

Stories of Water and Flame is an illustrated manga set in the Demon Slayer universe. It was written by Hirano Ryoji and features two additional spin-off stories surrounding characters Giyu Tomioka and Kyojuro Rengoku.

“I like Demon Slayer’s unique art style and…story,” said junior Amritha Kumaran. “Every character there has a purpose and moves the plot forward. The main trio of the group is always fun to watch be happy whenever they win their fights.”

If you enjoyed Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba—Stories of Water and Flame, you might like My Hero Academia, Jujutsu Kaisen, Attack on Titan, or Fullmetal Alchemist.

  1. Crying in H Mart: a memoir

By Michelle Zauner

“Hers was tougher than tough love. It was brutal, industrial-strength. A sinewy love that never gave way to an inch of weakness. It was a love that saw what was best for you ten steps ahead, and didn’t care if it hurt like hell in the meantime. When I got hurt, she felt it so deeply, it was as though it were her own affliction. She was guilty only of caring too much. I realize this now, only in retrospect. No one in this world would ever love me as much as my mother, and she would never let me forget it.”

Michelle Zauner’s Crying in H Mart is a critically acclaimed memoir about cancer, loss, and family. In it, Zauner explores her relationship with her late mother, how grief forced her to reflect on her connection to Korean culture, and her gradual understanding of her mother’s past actions. It is an option for English 10 Honors students to use as their outside reading literature assignment, which is how many students were introduced to it. Overall, the unique title tends to pull readers in first, followed by lyrical and emotion-heavy prose.

Crying in H Mart was actually part of my outside reading book list for last year’s English class,” said junior Kevin Nakaishi, who was already a fan of Zauner (aka Japanese Breakfast) and her music when he read the book. “I immediately chose to read it after seeing [its] author…I had been a fan of Japanese Breakfast for some time and had no idea that she had written a book. For fans of her music, the book provides backstories to many of her songs, so it is fun to see how her lyrics relate to the book. Crying in H Mart also portrays her life as a struggling artist, which is really inspirational, especially knowing her success today. Even if you are not a fan of her music, the book tells a powerful story about mother-daughter relationships, Asian Americans, coping with loss, and the aspirations of a young musician. Almost anyone can relate to some aspect of the story, which makes it such a moving read.”

If you enjoyed Crying in H Mart, you might like I’m Glad My Mom Died, Notes on Grief, or Dad is Fat.

  1. After the Shot Drops

By Randy Ribay

“Wallace lets out a sarcastic laugh. ‘He ain’t your friend. He up and left you to go play ball with some [rich] white boys. He doesn’t care about you. Bunny Thompson’s looking out for Bunny Thompson. That’s it, Nas.”

With great power comes great responsibility: something Bunny, Wallace, and Nasir understand intimately. When Bunny leaves town on an athletic scholarship, the town obsesses over him, all the while turning a blind eye to the suffering of those nearby: Wallace, who’s getting evicted; Nasir, who’s still reeling from Bunny’s betrayal. After the Shot Drops is a novel that questions the way we allow power to monopolize our attention and values. 

If you enjoyed After the Shot Drops, you might like The Lemonade War, A Man Called Ove, or Where Reasons End.

  1. We Were Liars 

By E. Lockhart

“She confused being spartan with being charitable, and gave away her possessions without truly doing good with them. She confused being sick with being brave, and suffered agonies while imagining she merited praise for it. She confused it with intelligence, and made people laugh rather than lightening their hearts or making them think.”

It’s not hard to see why We Were Liars is topping AHS checkout charts; it has everything from love and friendship to suspense and betrayal, with a foreboding sense of mystery that grows more apparent with each turn of the page. The story takes place between four friends who find themselves on an island, and if reality TV has taught us anything, it’s that friendship and private islands don’t mix. If you’re interested in reading We Were Liars, it’s best to go in blind.

If you enjoyed We Were Liars, you might like The Wives or The Villa.


And that’s it! Keep in mind that this list is a representation of the most checked-out books from the AHS library in the past month; as such, it is by no means a comprehensive compilation of the entire student body’s reading taste. Many AHS students make the trek across Duarte road to frequent Arcadia Public Library, while others may prefer buying over borrowing—regardless of where we get our books, these are just a few of the many, many stories waiting to be picked up and thumbed through. So the next time you swing by A-Building or find yourself with nothing to do during lunch, drop by the AHS library. And before you head to bed that night, maybe, just maybe, you’ll find yourself immersed in one of these worlds.

As for books not on this list, this is what some of our students have been reading and snippets of what they have to say about it:

Junior Emily Luo recently read and enjoyed Killer Instinct by James Patterson, a crime thriller packed with intrigue about the events following the murder of an Ivy League Professor. “It was cool and had lots of psychological stuff,” she explained.

“I recently read and enjoyed Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons by Marilyn Hacker,” said senior Phoenix Chen, “because it made me feel uncomfortable and that led to some serious introspection. Books that make me think a lot are good…The cover design is also very praiseworthy.”

Senior Jackie Chen has read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse and Everyday by David Levithan. Siddhartha is a novel about Siddhartha’s experiences with asceticism, knowledge, and the teachings of life, while Everyday is best summarized by the book’s tagline: “Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.”

“I’m currently reading Dune, by Frank Herbert,” shared senior Jared Carter. “I really love it for so many reasons. The writing is really good, every sentence is eloquently written. The effort put into worldbuilding is astonishing and extremely elaborate. The story itself has so many really cool and deep themes and ideas that make you really think. Overall, it’s done so well and every time I sit down to read it I’m completely absorbed and present in the world and the story.”Senior Olivia Widjojo mentioned that she liked Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, a multigenerational historical fiction novel about a Korean family immigrating to Japan and finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction. The book tackles the hardship, racism, and discrimination plaguing Zainichi Koreans (Koreans who immigrated to Japan before World War II ended in 1945), who continue to be the most targeted minority in modern Japan.