What are your favorite books?

Recently I’ve been hunting for a new great book. Happily, I just stumbled upon the new website, What should I read next? You type in a book you like, and then it gives you recommendations of similar books.

My favorite book of all time is The History of Love, a novel about an old man remembering his love affair. It’s so heartbreakingly beautiful that I underlined entire passages so I’d never forget them. At one point, I literally hugged the book as I read. What books do you love?

(Photo by Barca)

  1. Harriet says...

    Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys.

  2. Laure says...

    Have you seen the movie adaptation of the History of Love by Radu Mihaileanu? I have just seen it in Austria and I preferred it to the book.

  3. Michael says...

    Also, 3 great novels set in and about Manhattan, the first in the 80s, the second the 90s, the last in OOs (warning – one of these is perhaps the most hated American Novel of all time. But that doesn’t keep in from being great). Each is more insane than its predecessor:

    Bonfire of the Vanities
    American Psycho

  4. Michael says...

    The Trial. The Castle. 1984. Crime and Punishment. Solaris.

  5. One of my favorite books of all time is “Don’t lets go to the Dogs tonight” by Alexandra Fuller, and “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese and “A heartbreaking work of staggering Genius” by Dave Eggers. Also loved, of course, “Love in the time of Cholera”, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

  6. Whoa, I just saw this. The History of Love is my all time favorite too!!!! I’ve read it so many times and just find something new and lovely each time. One year I gave it as a Christmas gift to all the wonderful women in my life.

  7. city of glass by paul auster, siddhartha by herman hesse, 100 years of solitude bu gabriel garcia marquez, calvin and hobbes by bill watterson.
    i read the history of love so many times, its all wrinkly and water-curled. (rain? tears?) i recommend reading the “history of love” parts, the little metaphor-stories, separately for a new look

  8. The last great book I read that landed on my elusive “Favorites” shelf was The Time Traveler’s Wife. What a sad, exciting, romantic, amazing story. It is brilliantly written – she manages to convey the viewpoint and personality of two characters at various points in their lives, and though the story line jumps back and forth in time, she manages to weave this flawless, amazing plot.
    Such a great book.

  9. Thanks for the heads up on the book website. I’ll head over there.
    Great blog, keep up the good work!

    Amber Genise

  10. Thanks for the recommendation, Joanna! This book suggestions website is really good.

    I have a lot of favorite books: Wuthering Heights (Emily Brönte), Del amor y otros demonios (Gabriel García Márquez), Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) and Interview with the Vampire (Anne Rice), just to name a few. :)

    • Julianna says...

      Can you share a few more please? Your last two are two of my favorites as well!

  11. says...

    in no particular order:

    on the corner of bitter and sweet
    the bronze horseman
    island of the blue dolphins (great children’s classic)

  12. Anonymous says...

    Oh my gosh I just cannot believe no one mentioned Out of Africa! It is hands down, my favorite book of all time, and that’s saying something as I have many. It’s beautiful, lyrical, and prosaic.
    That being said, from my childhood I too also love for all time:
    Little Women (I would read this over and over again)
    The Little House and Green Gables series
    Recently I loved:
    The Dragon Tattoo, Hunger Games, and Lise See series
    Right now I’m reading Les Miserables (as I just became an eBook reader) and always love classics, any and all of Jane Austen’s
    Thanks for the suggestion of History of Love, don’t know how that’s escaped my notice. Also thanks for the What To Read Next site.
    Happy reading!

  13. I love The History of Love, but my favorite book is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (Nicole Krauss’s husband). I got the books at the same time not realizing they were married, and I saw some definite similarities in their style (even though they’re very different as well). I wish I’d read The History of Love before Foer’s book, as everything pales in comparison to Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close :)

    Also, check out Tree of Codes by Foer. It’s a really artsy book where he cuts out words from another book to make his own story with the words left on the page. And the original book? Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz, which plays a role in The History of Love :)

  14. Anonymous says...

    Martha Beck’s Expecting Adam was my favorite read of the year. Also The Brain That Changes Itself was very good. I also loved An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison. It was a slow fiction year for me I guess. I have A History of Love and am going to move it to the top of my pile. :)


  15. Goodness, there is so much useful information above!

  16. Joanna M. says...

    Thanks for all the great suggestions! I just picked up a History of Love. A few that no one has mentioned yet are House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III (the movie was also good, but definitely read the book first), The Secret History by Donna Tartt, and Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum (if you liked Sarah’s Key, you will love this one too).

  17. I got through 1/2 the list so far and am shocked that no one said The Birth House by Ami McKay! It’s absolutely fantastic.

    The book Those Who Save Us is also great. It’s a WWII fiction.

    I just bought History of Love and can’t wait to read it now!

  18. Anonymous says...

    The Catcher in the Rye
    The Great Gatsby
    all books by Jodi Picoult!!
    The Glass Castle
    The Perks of Being a Wallflower
    A Thousand Splendid Suns
    The Five People You Meet in Heaven
    Tuesdays with Morrie
    The Last Lecture
    Water for Elephants

  19. I just read the History of Love and I am pretty sure I hugged it multiple times while reading it. It now hangs out on my nightstand just as a reminder of how beautiful it is!
    Next to that book, my most favorite is The Power of One by Bryce Courtney.

  20. Tinkers by Paul Harding became my favorite book instantly. I have never seen the English language strung together so beautifully, describing such insignificant things in immortal ways.

    It took me twice as long to read because I would reread a section up to four times because of how beautiful it was! I closed it at the end only to flip right back to the beginning again. I highly recommend it.

  21. Give Extremely loud and incredibly close by Jonathan Safran Foer a try, it’s been my fav for over a year!

  22. Ahhhh and how could I leave out The Elegance of the Hedgehog and Pillars of the Earth? Silly silly me!

    Plus one I didn’t see mentioned at all:
    Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisa Pessl. Love.

  23. I’m on board with Water for Elephants, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, The Life of Pi, The World According to Garp, and anything by Michael Chabon (esp Kavalier and Clay).

    I’m going to give an extra special mention to The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon— so so brilliant and beautiful– probably a tie for my all-time favorite with The History of Love and Gone with the Wind.

    For humor— try Lamb or A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore. He is hilarious.

    I’m currently reading “The Woman in White” by Wilkie Collins; written in 1860, it is really intriguing and I am loving it. This book was mentioned in The History of Love so of course I had to check it out.

  24. I loved The History of Love, and another one of my all-time favorites I recently finished is Mama Day, by Gloria Naylor. It surprises you with laugh-out-loud wit and is also heartbreakingly beautiful.

  25. For something like The History of Love:
    “Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name” by Vendela Vida
    For something a little different:
    Charming Grace or Sweet Hush by Deborah Smith
    You should read Bossypants for sure, although listening to it could very well change your life…

  26. I adore reading! I will have to check out this website!

    I absolutely loved Eat, Pray, Love. I’m reading currently “Same Kind Of Different as Me”, and it’s amazing!

  27. i love so many of the books mentioned here that i totally feel encouraged to try the ones listed i haven’t yet read.

    Also: maybe i am the last person to know that foer and krauss are a couple but it just totally blew my mind.

    it also blew my mind last week when someone told me that foer lives a few blocks from me in a totally interesting looking building that i am have admired many times not knowing he lives there.

    maybe i get my mind blown easily. Anyway, very good reading suggestions! Just wanted to say thanks!

  28. Clair McLaughlin says...

    I have just read “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” by Muriel Barbery, it was so good and so beautifully written, that I don’t want to read another book just yet – just to keep the memory of it for a while!

  29. Anonymous says...
  30. I’m currently reading The Namesake, and it’s just adorable. It’s about an Indian family that names its child after a Russian author.

    • Michael says...

      That was amazing, heartbreaking movie.

  31. Anonymous says...

    Also loved “The Glass Castle”. On behalf of my country, I will suggest some great ones by Canadian authors – “The Girls” by Lori Lansens is fantastic – a lovely story about conjoined twins – sisters. Also great is “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel – and “A Fine Balance” by Rohinton Mistry

  32. My favourite books are The Time Travellers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Atonement by Ian McEwan, To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee, Lord of the Flies by William Golding and High Fidelity by Nick Hornby.

    They’re all either ones I could go back too time and again, or just loved.

    If you haven’t read Time Travellers Wife, I’d really recommend it, though I think I cried my way through the last three chapters! Which I’ve never done before.

    At the moment I’m very slowly reading One Day by David Nicholls, which I’m really enjoying, and I plan to read Little Women next. I never read it when I was a kid and I always wanted too :) So at 26 I decided I would just do it!

    Hope you find something good to read next.

  33. My favorite books are: Firelord by Parke Godwin, The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, and Till we Have Faces by C.S. Lewis. I have lots of passages underlined in those three.

  34. I adore History of Love! I saw that a few people mentioned Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, I just wanted to mention it again to back up the recommendation, one of my top 3 favorites! Also, Love in the Time of Cholera is probably my favorite of all times!

  35. I adored Time Traveler’s Wife by Niffenegger. I cried for 30 minutes straight.
    Giovanni’s Room is such a heartbreakingly beautiful novel by James Baldwin.
    Finally, I couldnt put down, What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt.

  36. My favorite book is Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen. I also enjoy the Barbara Kingsolver books, with The Poisonwood Bible being my favorite. I also recommend Ishmael by Daniel Quinn and The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert. Happy reading!

  37. bridge says...

    My current favourite is One Day by David Nicholls – it dips into the life of 2 friends on the 15th of July every year. I can’t recommend it enough so easy to read and so absorbing.

    P.s : I just bought a history of love after reading this :)

  38. i love pride and prejudice and i have read anne of green gables a hundred times… her rose-colored look on life is sweet and inspiriing

  39. I agree with whoever said The Glass Castle, it is a good book. But my favorites are The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, The Time Traveler’s Wife, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and I’m currently reading Firefly Lane which is very good.

  40. Kelsey says...

    Most recently I have loved The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (nonfiction that reads like fiction) and Room – I started Room in the morning and couldn’t put it down until I finished that afternoon!

    Happy summer reading!

  41. Clara Becker says...

    My all time favorites are Everything is Illuminated, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The last book I first read a few years ago. I borrowed by friend’s copy and he and his brother had underlined their favorite parts. Now I own my own copy and have passages underlined also. Many of my friends have read it and I always encouraged them to mark their favorite passages. Rereading the book is a fantastic experience because I get to see what parts made and impact on others (they all mark in different colors!). Also, I have a HUGE soft spot for the Harry Potter books.

  42. Alice says...

    I am currently reading-
    “This is where I leave you” by: jonathan Trooper- it is laugh out loud good and

    “The lace makers of glenmara” by: Heather Barbieri- also very good!

    hope that helps :)

  43. “A History of Love” is beautiful indeed, but my favourite is my husband’s novel “A Description of the Blazing World.” I’m not biased or anything :)

  44. you must read “The Book Thief” it is one of the best books I have ever read! it is by Markus Zusak. I also loved “the history of love”, but had to reread it to fully grasp it.

  45. The Shadow of the Wind
    (by Carlos Ruiz Zafon)

  46. I loved ‘The History of Love’ too….I choose it for my book club and was surprised when some members didn’t like it!? I also liked ‘The Glass Castle’ and her second book ‘Half Broke Horses’ was good too! I would recommend: Piano Man’s Daughter by Timothy Findley.

  47. These recommendations are inspiring! Just wanted to chime in with the names of a few favorite small publishers/book series:

    New York Review of Books Classics & Children’s Classics (e.g., The Enchanted April, anything by Jessica Mitford, etc.)

    Persephone Books (e.g., Miss Buncle’s Book, Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day, Few Eggs, No Oranges, etc.)

    Bloomsbury Group books (e.g., Henrietta’s War, Let’s Kill Uncle, Miss Hargreaves, etc.)

    I recommend pretty much any book in these lines. Great, quirky stuff.

  48. I just finished The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt and it was great! Love the plot, the narration and style.

  49. DG says...

    The Housekeeper and the Professor – Yoko Ogawa
    Franny and Zooey – JD Salinger
    The House of the Spirits – Isabel Allende
    Birds of America – Lorrie Moore
    Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – Annie Dillard
    The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer – Neal Stephenson
    Hannah Coulter – Wendell Berry

    Trust me on these recommendations. They do not come lightly.

  50. Ooohhh, here is an exceptional must read:

    The River Why by David James Duncan.

    I’ve never laughed aloud so many times during a book. Or felt that deep pang in my heart as often.

    Also, A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken is the best, best love story (unreal!) that one could ever even imagine!

  51. just wanted to chime in and agree with the first commenter – if you loved The History of Love, you will also love Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. it is so wonderful! I think I have to go read it again.

  52. great recommendations! i will check them out. a friend just started a book club – so it is interesting to read books that i wouldn’t normally choose for myself. favourites of mine include: geek love, st. lucy’s home for girls raised by wolves [author’s first book! she has a second out now – swamplandia!], she’s come undone [a tattered paperback that was passed around from friend to friend – so good] + of course, any book by david sedaris!

  53. I am currently reading Smart Girls Like Me by Diane Vadino – I bought her book from her at the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn. I’m really, really, really enjoying it:
    “Diane Vadino is an exhilarating talent . . . This is a slight, beautiful novel that makes you wish there were more smart girls like her writing books.”—Nylon

    “A raw and honest glimpse of single life. The witty, poignant Vadino writes exactly how Smart Girls think.” —Entertainment Weekly

    “[T]o maintain your dignity while giving into your chick lit urge . . .With seriously good writing by this McSweeney’s alum, Smart Girls is as fun and relatable as one of those silly pink books . . .” —Marie Claire

  54. I’m also looking for a few good summer reads–thanks for this post! Some faves of mine:
    Sloane Crosley’s “How Did You Get This Number?”, “The Emperor’s Children” by Claire Messud, “Netherland” by Joseph O’Neill, Evelyn Waugh’s “Vile Bodies”, Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” & “The End of the Affair” by Graham Greene.

  55. Anonymous says...

    I just finished reading Sarah’s Key – which has been made into a movie coming out later this year with Kristin Scott Thomas (trailer on It was very good and an easy read. Although it was sad and I had to go buy Tina Fey’s book to cheer me up afterward!

  56. Jessica says...

    Read Evening by Susan Minot. You will love it.

  57. THANK YOU FOR THIS WEBSITE! I could not be more excited! xoxo

  58. If you like Tiny Fey, you will like her book, Bossypants. I can’t stop laughing, then reading my favorite parts aloud to my husband! Its so goooooood!

  59. Ooooh I missed this post! So nice all these advices from everyone! you should see our bookshelves, no room left…at all! We went to the lecture of J.S.Foer a few months ago and he spoke so kindly about the talent of his wife! I just finished her second book. Also beautiful!

    the authors that have had a big impact on me are Stefan Zweig (especially his short stories “Letter from an unknown woman” for example or “the chess player”…). I also adore the book “Immortality” from Kundera, and my all favorite (a lot of french people have this book as favorite): “Belle du Seigneur” d’Albert Cohen.

  60. the brief and wondrous life of oscar wao

  61. I just ordered the History of Love on Amazon! It looks amazing – I’m so excited to read it!

    I recently read Little Bee by Chris Cleave. Such an amazing story. I highly recommend it!

  62. Hate to be a cliche…but Pride and Prejudice is at the top of my list…also Howards End. LOVE your blog!!!! Its the best way to start my day!! :)

  63. oh sigh! history of love is one of my favs too. i would read it as slowly as possible and some excerpts over and over, then close the book and sigh (out loud). my husband would make such fun of me. i did the same thing with time travelers wife (though i did more crying with that one).

    i’m pregnant now with my first child and though we won’t find out the sex till the birth, Alma is high on the list of girls names. sigh!

  64. Glass Castles was such a beautiful book and so wonderfully tragic. I have many favorites, which include Into the Wild, The Great Gatsby (a classic!) and The Art of Racing in the Rain (a novel told from the perspective of a dog) to name a few.

    I’m so happy to hear you’re doing another EmersonMade giveaway. I love every item, but I think my favorite is the Straight Leg Old Schools jeans. I love the fit and the color :)


  65. The Time Traveler’s Wife. The words are so beautiful I wish I could be the one who wrote them myself!

  66. One of my favorites is A Moveable Feast! I’m reading The Paris Wife now which is a novel about Hadley Hemingway, his first wife and their life in Paris.

  67. I love this post! I am getting so many good suggestions. Operating Instructions is hilarious.

    My favorite reads this past year have been Cutting for Stone, The Hunger Games trilogy and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

  68. Books I´ve enjoyed (some of the I´ve seen listed above):

    – Middlesex
    – Midnight´s Children
    – Lolita
    – The Buddha of Suburbia
    – The Blind Assasin
    – Enduring Love

    May I also recommend the great chilean writer Roberto Bolaño, especially his book The Savage Detectives, it´s just mindblowing.

  69. “Three Comrades” by Erich Maria Remark, “Great Gatsby” by Scott Fitzgerald, “Steppenwolf” by Herman Hesse, “Crime and Punishment” by Fiodor Dostojevsky, “Master and Margarita” by Michael Bulgakov.
    these books are magical!!