Look, they don’t call him a genius for no reason; every ARMY knows that BTS’s RM is a bit of a bookworm! Namjoon has given us some really great recommendations and insight into his tastes over the years, and they’re always added to our never-ending reading list! A lot of these books tackle really important topics, from the troubles of youth to mental health issues, from gender inequality to the history of South Korea. We have to say thank you to Namjoon for broadening our horizons!
Another thing that we need to say for sure is that Namjoon’s taste is excellent. Pure chef’s kiss, no notes. Some of these we’ve read, some are on our shelves TBR, and some are just sitting on our Amazon wishlist for now, but all are excellent. The reading list we’ve compiled is a mix of books Namjoon has been spotted with, has personally recommended to ARMY, and a couple that BTS reference in their music!
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Content warning: Some of these books contain content warnings which we have specified for each book. The Honey POP encourages mindful reading and always checking the author’s website for any additional content warnings.
I Want To Die But I Want To Tteokbokki By Baek Sehee
We’re starting with one of our faves! A very intimate journal of therapy sessions, I Want To Die But I Want To Eat Tteokbokki is a discussion of persistent, chronic depression that provokes a lot of self-reflection whilst also offering some insight into South Korea’s complicated relationship with mental health.
Grab your copy here.
Content warnings: Accounts of mental illness including depression and panic attacks, body shaming, fatphobia, suicidal thoughts, dysphoria.
Demian By Hermann Hesse
This is the first book on this list that inspired some of BTS’ work! Namjoon has cited Demian as an inspiration countless times on VLives and in interviews. Demian had a huge influence on Bangtan’s 2016 album WINGS, and both the book and the album tell stories of the transition from youth to adulthood. WINGS is one of the most iconic eras in BTS’ history and it took their fame to new heights, so this book is the perfect chance to explore that further, and also to just reminisce!
Extra trivia: Hesse himself was deeply inspired by psychoanalyst Carl Jung who, in turn, inspired BTS’ Map of The Soul album. We love it when things come full circle!
Get your own copy here!
Content warning: Bullying, alcoholism, war, suicidal thoughts and attempt, misogny, death.
Kitchen By Banana Yoshimoto
Fast forward to the Love Yourself: Tear era and you’ll find Namjoon reading Yoshimoto’s Kitchen. This is one of the shortest books on Namjoon’s reading list, so this could be a great place to start! Kitchen is split into two stories about the relationship between love, grief, and food.
Check it out and order your copy of Kitchen, here.
Content warning: Death; including death of a parent, transphobia, grief, hate crime, dead-naming, suicidal thoughts
Kafka on the Shore By Haruki Murakami
If there could be a popstar who is a bigger fan of Murakami than Harry Styles, it would be Namjoon. RM has been spotted with or has recommended countless books by renowned author Haruki Murakami. Whilst Norwegian Wood is the first Murakami book that Namjoon read, we’ve chosen to spotlight Kafka on the Shore on this list.
And the reason why? Because Namjoon references it in one of BTS’ best b-sides, ‘Butterfly.’ It could be argued that the whole song is a reference to the magical realism of KOTS, but there’s a section of Joon’s verse that we simply cannot ignore: “I don’t know if this is a dream or reality, My Kafka on the Shore, Please don’t go to the forest over there.”
Join RM and add this to your TBR, here!
Content warning: Animal cruelty, incest, animal death, rape
Metamorphosis By Franz Kafka
Speaking of Kafka, Namjoon is a pretty big fan of his book Metamorphosis too and took it with him to In The Soop season 1. The book is an exploration of the loneliness and isolation we face in society, told through the story of a man turning into a beetle. Yes, as in the bug.
You want it? You got it, here.
Content warning: Body horror, animal cruelty, animal death, suicide, physical and emotional abuse, abandonment
Midnight Library By Matt Haig
Namjoon and Taehyung discuss Midnight Library in season 2 episode 1 of In The Soop! If you have fallen out of love with reading or feel overwhelmed by the prospect of getting back into it, we recommend starting with this book on Namjoon’s reading list! Midnight Library questions what is meaningful and how our lives would change if we made certain decisions differently.
Add it to your own library, right now!
Content Warning: Mentions of suicide, overdose, and mental health issues.
Human Acts By Han Kang
Human Acts is based on the 1980 uprisings in Gwangju, South Korea. The book contains a lot of violence and is not an easy read, but we would definitely still recommend it if you feel able. Gwangju is also j-hope’s hometown, which he of course references in BTS’ track ‘Ma City.’ He even says “062518” at the end of his verse, which is a sequence commonly used to refer to the uprisings (062 is Gwangju’s area code, and the uprisings began on May 18th).
Get your own copy, here.
Content warning: Violence, death, graphic descriptions of injury.
Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 By Cho Nam-joo
Kim Jiyoung might be the story of one woman, but it’s also the tale of every woman. It documents the discrimination and oppression, big and small, that women face not just in South Korea, but all over the world. The book sparked a lot of discussions on gender inequality and was considered pretty controversial after its release in 2016, but it’s a thought-provoking book that’s well worth the read!
It’s available right here!
Content warning: Misogyny, sexism, sexual harassment, mental health issues including psychosis.
Me Before You By Jojo Moyes
Finally, some romance on this list! Me Before You is the story of wheelchair-user Will and his caregiver Lou. If you’re somehow reading this list but don’t want to sink your teeth into a book just yet, you could instead watch the popular movie adaption of Me Before You starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin. Warning, it’s a tear jerker!
Check it out, here!
Content warning: Euthanasia, suicide, suicide attempt, illness, car accident, death of a loved one, grief.
The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas By Ursula K. Le Guin
Recognise the name Omelas? That’s because it’s the name of the hotel featured in BTS’ music video for ‘Spring Day.’ The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas was republished with The Real & The Unreal. Omelas is a fictional town where the citizens live in perpetual happiness and opulence, except for the misery inflicted on a single child.
‘Spring Day’ is one of the most evocative songs in BTS’ discography for its cultural impact and the important stories it tells. Like BTS’ ‘Spring Day,’ the book explores grief and the unequal relationship between youth and the people in power.
Treat yourself here!
Content warning: Child abuse, confinement
Almond By Sohn Won-pyung
This last book is another one of our favorites on this list, and another one from In The Soop, as Namjoon and Yoongi are both spotted with it. Almond is an exploration of emotion and humanity told through the eyes of teenager Yunjae. Yunjae has the condition alexithymia, which affects our ability to understand human emotions, both our own and others.
Join Namjoon and Yoongi, and get your copy here!
Content warning: Violence, death, murder
So we’re all in agreement that Namjoon has great taste, right? We love when our faves help us broaden our horizons and explore new things, so THP ARMY are very grateful to RM for all these recommendations!
Have you read any of the books on Namjoon’s reading list? Which of these should ARMY tackle reading first? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter @TheHoneyPop! We can be found on Instagram or Facebook too!
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