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6 Books that Taught Me More than I’d Learn in a Whole Semester

by  | August 22

As an ~Older Millennial~ whose high school and even college days are long behind her (but not that long, okay), I confess I get a tiny little bit nostalgic during back to school season. Who among us did not look forward to the stylish new wardrobe, pristine packs of school supplies, and invigorating sense of possibility? It’s what carried us through the first few days of what would invariably become a grueling semester of quizzes, tests, term papers, and more tests. That’s when the rose-colored glasses come off and I remember that while adulting isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, at least I get to read what I want. And truth be told, I’ve probably learned more real-world lessons from these 6 books than I would in a whole semester of school….

My Friend Anna

My Friend Anna

by Rachel DeLoache Williams

You should run a background check on all new friends.

You know what school doesn’t prepare you for (aside from, like, how to file your taxes or manage a 401(k), which would have also been super useful)? CON ARTISTS! My Friend Anna is the true story of how fake heiress “Anna Delvey” (a.k.a. Anna Sorokin) befriended Vanity Fair photo editor Rachel DeLoache Williams, only to scam her out of $62,000. Not only is it a juicy, fascinating read by itself, but it serves as a lesson in why you should never trust anyone ever!

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The Last House Guest

The Last House Guest

by Megan Miranda

Staycations are criminally underrated.

Spending your summer vacation in a beautiful resort town in Maine is fun. Also fun: Surviving that vacation! Unfortunately, Littleport summer resident Sadie Loman isn’t so lucky in Megan Miranda’s thriller The Last House Guest. When Sadie’s body is discovered, her best friend—local girl Avery Greer—becomes a top suspect in her suspicious death. Prepare for a wild ride that may just remind you of why you get pleasure from chillin’ safe and sound at home....

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The Royal Runaway

The Royal Runaway

by Lindsay Emory

When your fiancé leaves you at the altar, his brother is totally fair game.

Look, none of us went to school for a MRS degree, so we had to learn about love and marriage the old-fashioned way: by consuming lots and lots of pop culture. That’s why I’m comfortable dubbing Princess Thea, the heroine of Lindsay Emory’s The Royal Runaway, my new relationship authority. Does she wallow briefly after her loser fiancé jilts her on their wedding day? Yes, deservedly so. But then she snags herself a WAY better fairy-tale ending—with his BROTHER. Who’s BRITISH. And a SPY. Iconic.

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The Turn of the Key

The Turn of the Key

by Ruth Ware

If something seems too good to be true...it probably is.

In hindsight, I used to worry WAY too much about getting into the “best” college. Why? Because absolutely NOTHING can prepare you for a dream job turned nightmare. Take it from The Turn of the Key’s Rowan Caine, who gleefully accepts a position as a live-in nanny for a perfect family in a stunning smart home, realizing too late that she’s made a huge mistake. Now she’s awaiting trial for the murder of a child, desperate to prove her innocence. Remember, kids: A normal job is all you need!

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Love at First Like

Love at First Like

by Hannah Orenstein

Fake engagements are complicated, but full of potential.

There’s projecting your best self on social media and then there’s, uh, pretending to be engaged to your fake fiancé on Instagram. You won’t learn how to navigate THAT sticky situation in a classroom, I can tell you that. Luckily, Hannah Orenstein’s Love at First Like is a handy guide for anyone else who, like heroine Eliza, accidentally posts a photo of herself wearing a beautiful ring, enlists a real guy to play along, and ends up falling in love for real. As you do.

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Swimming for Sunlight

Swimming for Sunlight

by Allie Larkin

We don’t deserve dogs.

You don’t have to be a genius to know that dogs are better than people. That’s obvious. But a little refresher never hurts, and Allie Larkin’s sweet novel Swimming for Sunlight will cheerfully oblige. Feeling lost after her divorce, costume designer Katie Ellis and her loyal canine, a Very Good Boy named Bark, move back to Florida to stay with her grandmother. Over time, Katie realizes that Bark’s fearfulness could be a reflection of her own anxieties, and together they start to heal.

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Heather Waters is the senior manager of content verticals at Simon & Schuster, where she runs the Tips on Life & Love blog. She enjoys reading everything from romance to true crime to political memoirs, and in her free time you can often find her binge-watching Netflix, refreshing Twitter every 10 seconds, and listening to the latest episode of the podcast My Favorite Murder.