Caroline’s Five Favorite Books

Cup of Jo editor Caroline was a book editor for years and still reads a book a week. Bottom line: She knows her stuff. I love her recommendations, so here, she shares five of her favorite books (and please share yours!)…

Let me begin by saying, I could NEVER choose just five favorite books. That is like asking me to pick my favorite child. But of the many books I’ve loved, here are five titles that are worthy of favorite status. (Bonus: They’re all written by women!)

SELF-HELP by Lorrie Moore
Despite the title, this is not a self-help book, but a collection of nine brilliant short stories. I’ve loved everything Moore has written, but this is the one that first got me hooked. It didn’t matter that I was going through a horrible breakup at the time, that my job was miserable, that I was totally broke…you get the point. I stayed up too late reading these sharp, vulnerable, tragic-yet-hilarious tales and hoped it would never end.

I love smart, funny books written by smart, funny women (Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Lena Dunham…) But for me, no one compares to the acerbic wit of Fran Lebowitz. This volume combines the two bestselling essay collections Metropolitan Life and Social Studies, in which Fran shares her hilarious insights on everything from polite conversation to baggage claim to people who are overly tan. It’s like listening to a curmudgeonly person complain in a really funny way. Not to be missed. (Bonus: Scorsese did a documentary about her a few years ago, and it’s amazing.)

In a nutshell, Anna Quindlen makes life seem more good and less scary. I’ve read this memoir a few times now, and it’s become a tradition to look through it every year around my birthday. Anna, like Oprah, seems to know ALL OF THE THINGS and has an incredible gift for presenting them eloquently and wisely. This book reads like a wonderful conversation with a friend, that will soothe and inspire you time and time again.

WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This essay, based on the TED talk Beyoncé famously sampled, should be required reading for all human beings. The books is tiny—only 64 pages—but packs more humor, wisdom and good common sense in those pages than any other in recent memory. Read it for yourself, then give it to everyone you know.

This book was a big deal when it published back in 1999. It took me years to actually pick it up, largely because I took the “hunting” and “fishing” parts too literally. (What can I say? I was young then.) But when I finally did read it, I fell in love. The novel’s narrator, Jane, explores life as a teenager, dating in your 20s, career, heartbreak…She is alternately the person you’ve been, the person you are, and the person you’re glad you don’t have to be anymore. A wry and wonderful read.

What are some of your favorite books? Have you read anything good recently? Please share!

P.S. The best scary book, and a graphic novel I loved.

(Photo via Caroline’s instagram)

  1. Courtney says...

    Cup of Jo should start a monthly book club, or some sort of column that spotlights new books! Also, I am an avid reader, but I also am a sucker for a pretty cover. You should post about beautiful books or how to incorporate books in home decor! :]

  2. Sophia says...

    My two favorites that I’ve read this year are Queen of the Tearling and Thousand Splendid Suns.

  3. Suzann says...

    Thanks for the recommendations! After consulting a list of recent Pulitzer prize winners, just finished March by Geraldine Brooks, which tells the story of the Little Women’s dad serving as a military chaplain and rubbing elbows with the John Brown, Ralph W. Emerson, and the Thoreaus. Painless history, romance, and every sentence reads like poetry. ‘Also enjoyed Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings, as well as All the LIght We Cannot See(again, if you’re a sucker for beautiful language!)

  4. Claire says...

    I just wanted to leave a quick thank you note to Caroline– I recently finished the last book on my nightstand pile and remembered that when I originally read this post I intended to try some of your recommendations as soon as I had room for more unread books in my life.
    I had already read and enjoyed a couple on the list so I knew I could trust your choices. I have just ordered the Fran Lebowitz Reader and Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake.
    I have read this blog since 2009 when Joanna hadn’t had children yet and I was still living and feeling stuck in my life in the UK. Now I have lived in Norway and The Netherlands for the past five years and I still love the blog and everything about it but I feel that it is now Caroline’s posts who speak more to me as someone without a husband and kids. It took a lot of foresight to diversify a personal blog in this way, and partially because of that it remains one of my absolute favourite places on the Web.

  5. Amanda says...

    If you enjoyed The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing, I recommend Margaret Atwood’s latest short story collection, Stone Mattress. Almost all the stories are narrated by a woman and discuss similar topics like age, relationships and loss– and the title story is *fantastic*.

    Also, I would love it if Cup of Jo started a monthly book club! I always enjoy the recommendations shared on here.

  6. Aga says...

    This should be a monthly column! Caroline’s Monthly Book Picks, or Books of the Month. I love hearing what others are reading and what they recommend!

  7. Melissa says...

    i would love to know the top 20 books as well. I’m ‘that weirdo’ who reads (and loves) every book Jo posts. I’m a fussy reader. But you ladies have impeccable taste, imho.

  8. kim says...

    I saw Self Help and I knew I was in good hands. Can’t wait to pick up Quindlen–I feel like I’m a fan but I can’t remember anything specifically I’ve read.

    Agree–make this a series!

  9. Great post, Caroline! Based on your suggestion I picked up “The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing” and I can’t put it down! Thank you. This is a GREAT post and I would love to see it become a series.

  10. Thank you! I just picked up Quindlen’s book at the library, and I dreaded having to put it down at the end of my lunch break. What wise words. I can see reading her essays over and over again, as Caroline recommends. Can’t wait to go through this whole list this spring, thanks!

  11. I absolutely adore the following books; Jodi Picoult’s Mercy, its so sad but wonderfully written. Maggie O’Farrell’s The Distance Between Us, a beautiful book that I really enjoyed. John Green’s Paper Towns (yes a teen book, he wrote the fault in our stars)I absolutely loved this and couldn’t put in down. I couldn’t tell you why it spoke to me in the way that it did, but I recommend it to everyone.

  12. ! I love Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing and feel that is so under-appreciated! I love the comment from another reader about she buys copies at used bookstores and gives them to other women because I DO THE SAME THING! Excellent choices.

  13. This is a great list!!! This would be amazing if Caroline could give more book advices. Like once a month, what was the best book she read this month for example. I am always looking for ideas!

  14. At the moment The Goldfinch is my favorite novel. As a kid, Love you Forever, the Anne of Green Gables books and The Giver were favorites.

  15. GIRL ON A TRAIN!!! So good

  16. My favorite book is easily 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I’m obsessed with magical realism and 100 Years is definitely the most beautiful example that I’ve read. The ending is so wild and violent in a natural disaster sort of way. It is forever in my mind and I see it in nature all the time.

    I’ve read a lot of good books lately that I would confidently recommend to anyone. I’m currently reading S by JJ Abrams, which engaging and fun. I loved Deep Down Dark by Hector Tobar. It details many of the amazing moments of the 33 Chilean miners who were burried (and rescued!) in 2010. And if you have a lot of time and want your heartstrings tugged, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is remarkable.

  17. M says...

    Thanks so much for sharing this list!! I can’t imagine what it must be like to be able to read a book a week. As a former book editor Caroline must have some advice on how to read. By that I mean – I have a giant list of books I’d love to get through but always end up watching TV or a movie instead. I’d love to hear her tips and thoughts on making time to read and also how she quiets her mind enough to get into a book.

  18. I am a huge fan of Steinbeck, and have read all of his work. However, my all time favorite books are the Little House books. I guess I love American literature

  19. I spent yesterday afternoon at work listening to the TED Talk “We should all be Feminists” and Beyonce’s “Flawless”. Then I picked up the book and finished it that night. Its amazing, but went too quick. Rereading tonight!

  20. Hooray for posts about books!!! Keep them coming! PS — are you on Goodreads?

    To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite and I love Jane Eyre, too. These are pretty run-of-the-mill favorites, though.

    One lesser known favorite: last year I read Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis and it blew my mind. It’s a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche. His understanding of women…just wow. It was his last novel and many regard it as his best. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

  21. I’m adding all of these to my to-read list! I recently read “Undaunted Courage” about Lewis & Clarke and it was incredible!


  22. Hi! Please share more books, Caroline! I already love your taste based on your favorites, so I bet you I’ll love all of them! I am always looking for wonderful, cool and interesting books but never know whom’s recommendation to trust, there are so many best-of lists out there! Could you guys do a monthly blog feature? We could have a book club with Caroline! You could be our Oprah! YAY!

  23. Thank you for the recommendations! I’ve needed something new and refreshing to read and these sound like something right up my alley.

  24. I love the Melissa Banks Book!

  25. JO– As a fellow ballet enthusiast, I thought you would enjoy “Astonish Me” by Maggie Shipstead. Cannot recommend it enough– I just finished it in two nights and wanted to start reading it again.

  26. More book posts, please!

    I also read about a book a week (last year my # was 64 books for the year!) and people think I’m nuts, but really I couldn’t survive without them.

    Caroline, you seem to be more inclined to non-fiction, while I am more fiction-oriented, so I don’t know if you’ll love my list, but here it is.

    I can’t do top 5; I can only do top 11. In no particular order, except the last 2:

    Harry Potter, obv
    The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chobsky
    Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt
    The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint Exupery
    The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
    A Wrinkle in Time, Madeline L’Engle
    The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffeneger
    The Stand, Stephen King
    The Book Thief, Marcus Zusak
    In the Woods, Tana French
    The Likeness, Tana French, my favorite book of all time (though read In the Woods first!)

    p.s. I also would like to be friends with you.

  27. All of my favorite books and movies have come from your recommendations. I can’t wait to read some of these books! I agree, make this a regular post

  28. I just read the Orphan Train and LOVED IT. Powerful story. I also loved love loved Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell. Beautiful memoir of two women’s friendship.(And puppies!)

    • I totally agree! Orphan Train was one of the best books I’ve read in years. I’m going to check out Let’s Take the Long Way Home, thank you for the recommendation.
      Check out, The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. It’s my favorite!

  29. Thanks Caroline – want to add my vote to make this a regular series on the blog – just in case this is a democratic process (winkey face)

  30. I want to read all of these! The last book I read was The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez, and I really enjoyed it.

  31. To repeat others, DEFINITELY read Americanah by Adichie. Also I just read The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. It was SOOO good. Both of these books are incredible.

  32. Some (relatively) recent favourite reads for me: Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo; Life After Life by Kate Atkinson; and Your Voice in my Head by Emma Forrest.

    And I noticed another reader mentioned Judy Blume…one of my all-time favourite books is Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read it in the past 30-ish years. :)

  33. Broken For You by Stephanie Kallos, I recommend this book to EVERYONE:) Here is an excerpt from a review: National best seller and Today show Book Club selection, Broken for You is the story of two women in self-imposed exile whose lives are transformed when their paths intersect. Stephanie Kallos’s debut novel is a work of infinite charm, wit and heart. It is also a glorious homage to the beauty of broken things.

    Anything by Elizabeth Berg, and the magic of Alice Hoffman!!

  34. I want to know about the book she’s holding in the photo.

  35. This is great! I added them all to my wish list!

  36. I love love Adichie’s books… do read Americanah if you get a chance. Also Thing Around Your Neck.

  37. mo says...

    I was very surprised to see The Girls Guide to Hunting & FIshing on this list. I did NOT like it! It would be on my top five list of books that I hope you never waste your time on. That’s how much I hated it! Overall it was pretty boring and there is a chapter in the middle of the book that makes no sense, it’s randomly about other characters that were never mentioned before or after. Like a short story that doesn’t belong there… that really bothered me. I never understood why so many people like this book.

  38. Anything by another Lorrie. Laurie Colwin! Also loved “Lost Hearts in Italy” by Andrea Lee; White Teeth by Zadie Smith and the Neopolitan novels/triology by Elana Ferrante.

  39. I just requested all of these books at my library. I am in need of some good reading suggestions. Caroline should post the book she is currently reading. One a week is so ambitious!

  40. LOVED this post, LOVE these books, and second Lauren Fraley’s comment- would LOVE to see this as a regular segment! Thank you.

  41. I recently discovered Rosamunde Piltcher with The Shell Seekers… I felt in love with this book.

  42. I loved Bon Appetempt: A Coming of Age Story with Recipes. I read it in two days which is really rare for me!

  43. I love your blog and read it daily! I recently read “I knew you’d be Lovely,” a book of short stories by Alethea Black and loved it. When I finished I immediately wanted to read them all again. I just finished “Where Love Goes,” by Joyce Maynard for the second time.Now I’m going to read “Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing” again after 25 years. Thanks for the idea.

  44. I freaking love Caroline. I just gotta say it. Her writing is so witty and candid – it’s such a breath of fresh air (not like yours isn’t Jo, it obviously is!). Joanna, wonderful picking! She just seems like the perfect addition to this delightful online space. You two make a fabulous team!

  45. Self Help and The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing are such favorites of mine as well. Can’t wait to check out the others on the list.

  46. This piece was so thoughtfully and beautifully written, Caroline. Thank you for sifting through what must be a long list (a book a week!!!) to share la crème de la crème. I can’t wait to read each one of these books!

  47. I second all of the recommendations of The Thirteenth Tale–I’ve read it many times and it’s still delightfully spooky. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is fantastic, atmospheric, complex, and unnerving. But my all-time, tell everyone I know to read it favorite is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The movie couldn’t even come close to this unique, devastating, wonderful story. Makes me cry every time I read it, but in the best way. So many good books out there!

  48. Dang Caroline, you really sold me on these books. Def going on my wishlist/library list. I have a question are you still into physical media or are you a digital girl, inquiring minds wanna know?

  49. Caroline’s picks make for the perfect summer reading list! Thank you so much for sharing!!

  50. One of my recent favorite reads is Kafka on the Shore by Murakami!

  51. I agree it’s impossible to pick favourites but some of my comfort reads (which I return to again and again) are ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Persuasion’ by Jane Austen; ‘Coming Home’ by Rosamunde Pilcher and ‘Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe’ by Fannie Flagg.

  52. I love Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie! Americanah is definitely in my top 5 favorite books. I’ve also loved The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss, What is the What by Dave Eggers, For Whom the Bell Tolls by Hemingway, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, and anything by Willa Cather! I’ll stop there… ;)

  53. I LOVE book posts!! Going to put all of these on my kindle right now! Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of my favourite authors along with barbara Kingsolver, love them!

  54. I’m excited to put some of these books on my to-read list! Love book recommendations :)

  55. Thank you, Caroline, for pointing out books that aren’t on (what seems like) everybody’s book list right now!! What breath of fresh air! – and I agree with the commenter(s) who suggest making this a regular (monthly?) feature! Maybe “On Caroline’s Nightstand” or something like that.

    You go, Caroline! x

  56. My favourite book of all time, and this will never change, is History of Love. I reread it every year.


    – A Complicated Kindness ( Toews)
    – The Paris Wife (Mclain)
    – The Lacuna (Kingsolver)
    – Any Madeline L’Engle book: but particularly, A Ring of Endless Light (YA, but so, so good)
    – Mary Oliver poems
    – Ishmael (Quinn)

  57. OMG. Book recommendations are my absolute favorite posts.
    Is Caroline on Goodreads? I want to follow her. lol
    I hope this becomes a regular feature.

  58. The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton! After I read it I saw myself quoting ideas from famous philosophers in conversations and felt really badass and smart-sounding. And after reading it, it just makes you feel better in general about life with its ups and downs from the earliest “self-help” writers

  59. after reading all the comments it looks like I’m going to have to get myself a copy of the girl’s guide to hunting and fishing! I agree with everyone that this should be a regular series.

  60. I just bought all five on Amazon… Keep em coming!

  61. Loved Girl’s Guide to Hunting & Fishing! maybe I should re-read it! Thanks for the Adichie rec, too. I adored her book Americanah.

    I also love Anna Karenina, The Age of Innocence, The Fault in Our Stars, The Brothers Lionheart, The Bean Trees, and anything by George Saunders.

  62. This is a great idea. I find myself honestly just crashing in front of the TV every night after getting home from work and putting the kids to bed…. this would be much more fun once I get into a good book again. Thanks for the suggestions!

  63. Oh! The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing! That had such a huge impact on me when I read it as a highschooler in the early 2000’s. The part about the woman who dates an older man I remember so vividly. And there is one line ‘men want to sleep with women with large breats, but fall in love with women with small breasts” or something like that. At the time, with newly giant boobs that I hated, I took it as definitive proof of my inadequacy. Hahah. It is funny the ways that we interpret literature when we are young.

  64. Thanks very much to Caroline for the suggestions — Caroline seems so sweet and I would love to be her friend!! I am reading (and loving so far) “The Girl You Left Behind.” Other recent favorites are: The Light Between Oceans, Now I See You and Girl on the Train.

  65. Oh gosh, I devour books at a similar rate to Caroline, so I LOVE posts like this. Some of my favorites that I’ve read recently are Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward (I’ve been recommending this to absolutely everyone lately), Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple, The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz and Americanah by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie. My all-time favorites include (but are certainly not limited to) 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and The Beans of Egypt, Maine by Carolyn Chute.

    Whew. That was actually really hard to limit myself. I could talk about books for ages!

  66. lb says...

    Oh, I love The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing! I also love one of your favorites Joanna, The History of Love.

  67. I too would enjoy a regular book recommendation post. Currently, I am in the early pages of The Goldfinch, but would strongly suggest The Lucana (Kingsolver) or Cutting for Stone (Verghese). Two really great reads!

  68. I am really loving all of these Caroline posts :) she just seems so relatable to me but my friend Emily and I do love you, Jo!

    Last week, I literally picked up The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing on a whim. So strange, and now it’s next on my list!

    I am really a Harry Potter girl at heart and always will be. However, lately I’ve loved The Goldfinch (same as everyone and their mother), Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead (I literally had what felt like a hangover for a couple days from that book. The last sentence, oy). I also really love Eat, Pray, Love, Mrs. Dalloway, and The Great Gatsby will always leave a hole in my heart. Such a strange assortment, but I just really love all types of books!

    I feel a little late to the party, but I’m currently reading The Book Thief and I cannot put it down. It’s amazing.

  69. JT says...

    I agree with Caroline that its too hard to pick five favorite books, but some of my favorites include:
    The Red Tent- awesome historical/Biblical fiction
    The Color of Water- Fantastic Autobiography/biography
    Let’s Pretend This Never Happened- Hands down the funniest thing I have ever read
    The Hound of the Baskervilles- Love all of Sherlock Holmes but this started my obsession
    Tuck Everlasting- Much loved book from childhood, I have the overwhelming urge to read this every summer

  70. I love this post! Mainly because I love reading and getting book recommendations. So hard to choose but some of my favorites are: love in the time of cholera (Garcia Marquez), history of love (Krause), corelli’s mandolin (long last name I cant spell), what is the what (eggers), and this is how you lose her (Diaz). All so good that just listing them makes me want to re-read:)

  71. Pretty please keep this up! Even if it’s just a “shelfie” of each month’s reads (perhaps with a recommend/do not recommend suggestion.)
    I’ve been reclaiming reading as a love of mine after grad school (I had to remind myself it was something I did because I enjoyed it before it was something I did because my courses mandated it) and I’m one of the book-per-week elite, but I sometimes find the bookstore (so many choices!) overwhelming after almost a decade of professors telling me what to read.

  72. Thanks for these! Recently I’ve liked How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, Euphoria by Lily King, The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker (I think you have to be a bit of an english lit nerd for the last one).

  73. I’d love to know Caroline’s tips for reading a book a week!

  74. I have soo many favourite books but one that stands out amongst the pile is Too Loud a Solitude by Bohomil Hrabal. Reading the book makes my heart sing. Beautifully written.

    Sample of the first few lines..

    ~ Thanks Caroline for your book recommendations. And Joanna for having both books and grammar in your blog!

  75. Caroline, thanks for sharing. Do you have a account? that’s where I go when I want to find what to read and I’d love to follow your reviews, especially if you read so many!

  76. I loved the Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing – I’ll definitely have to look into the others. Some on my list would be: Gone With the Wind, Lamb by Christopher Moore, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde…

  77. Hi Caroline, I have to thank you as I saw Joanna post your book recommendation for dept. of speculation which I just finished. It was so so beautiful. I’ve only read one of these and will add the rest to my list based on loving DOS.

  78. What a great list…there are so many books I want to read! One of my all-time favorites is definitely The Catcher In The Rye! :)

  79. YES!! I second the online book club idea. I tried to start one in the fall with my lady friends and it totally fell through after the first selection (it was Lolita). Please make this or regular recommendations a thing.

  80. I’m always looking for good books to read and have spent countless hours reading book jacket covers to walk out empty handed…Caroline should post monthly what she has read and loved!

  81. I would HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt. It is about friendship, love, art, and children. And oddly the narrator is a man, but this is written by a woman.

  82. This is absolutely perfect! I just opened my kindle (sorry, Caroline!) to check your blog for book recs bc I’ve been so pleased in the past! I cannot wait to read my way through the list!


  83. Thanks for this! I heart Caroline :)

  84. I recently finished a few books that I absolutely loved – Me Before You (Moyes), The Vacationers (Straub), We Were Liars (Lockhart) and The Fever (Abbott)…Would love to see a book recommendation post become a regular thing too!

  85. This is awesome – thanks for pulling together, I always love Caroline’s recommendations!

  86. Great suggestions from everyone!! I need to grab a pen & notepad to write down some of them!

    This may sound silly but I just finished reading “Are you there God, It’s me Margaret” by Judy Blume. I never read it as a kid and now that I have a little girl, I wanted to read it. I seriously think all moms with daughters should read it as a reminder of what a sixth grade girl thinks! I’m even trying to convince my husband to read it.

    Ok moving on to a more adult books. Some of my most recent faves The Light Between Oceans, Big Little Lies, Me Before You, Wild and so many more!

  87. I agree, regular column! The best part about these book posts is trolling through the comments and adding everyone’s recommendations to my library holds :)

    All the Light We Cannot See was fantastic, and I’m in the middle of The Bone Clocks now.

  88. This would be a good regular monthly post please! :)

  89. Jo, let’s start a book club! I know I’d love it, as well as a number of my friends who read your blog and are avid readers. I’m currently working through The Secret History and it’s good but intense! I wanted to check it out before reading The Goldfinch to see what Donna Tartt’s all about. All of Caroline’s recc’s are now on my Amazon Wishlist!

  90. What a great post! AND all were available as e-readers from NYPL! I just checked out a couple and added the rest to my wait list. yay new books!

  91. Love these recommendations and love that they’re all women writers. When I was in college at the New School I took a class on women writers. We read stuff from Jamaica Kincaid, Annie Proulx, Annie Ernaux and others. It was one of my favorite classes and was so fun to talk over what we’d read with the other women in class (surprisingly an all women class). Thank you for these!

  92. lauren, you must be excited for the documentary! and omg laura I LOVED THAT BOOK.

  93. Just this morning, I checked out a few lists of must-read fantasy novels, and was so disappointed by how male-oriented the lists were. This all-female list was just what I needed! (Doesn’t matter to me that this isn’t fantasy – all books are good).

    I agree with all of the commenters who have praised The Thirteenth Tale, what a page-turner! Also love Special Topics in Calamity Physics, which is unsatisfying in the very best way

  94. Love this! Lorrie Moore (especially Self Help) is one of my favourite short story writers. In a similar vein, I am just a big a fan of Megan Mayhew Bergman’s Birds of a Lesser Paradise and Rebecca Lee’s Bobcat and Other Stories.

  95. I just started reading The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing! Books I read over and over are Mind Kaling’s is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (heartfelt and hysterical), Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity (also heartfelt and funny, great for music lovers), Robb Sheffield’s Love is a Mixtape (another great one for music lovers, and completely heartbreaking. I still sob when I re-read it), and I will forever love Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea (named my son after the main character!). And what I talking about, I have not read anything as many times as I have read Pride & Prejudice. That said, I would love to see more recs from Caroline!!

  96. I haven’t read any of those books. That is not good!! I do, however, want to read We Should All Be Feminists.
    My favourites consist by Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, and ah so many pop into my head.

    // – a book blog

  97. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. Awe love this book! The bond between sisters and what they have to go through. Don’t judge the book by it’s cover.

    – Enjoy

  98. I agree, regular column, please! I’m always at a loss as to where to get book recommendations so this would be super helpful.

    My favorite book of all time is Slouching Toward Bethlehem (I didn’t even know there was a Didion bandwagon when I first read her in college), and my recent favorite is All the Light We Cannot See.

  99. I just bought all five of these on Amazon. You are both wonderful role models for everyone! Thank you for this most excellent post.

  100. I love this list! I’m currently reading The Girl on the Train per Caroline’s suggestion (in a blog post last week) and I can’t stop. Please make this regularly!

  101. ginny, that’s one of my mom’s favorite books, too.

  102. Sorry for commenting again ;-) but also! If you haven’t read the classics, Love on the Dole and How Green Was My Valley they are both heartwrenching and brilliant!

  103. I love all of these…but my favorite for the past several years has been Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible.

  104. Great post! Have to admit read it in super quick time so I could get to the comments for more suggestions! I second Wolf Hall (would also recommend another Mantel, A Place of Greater Safety, set in the French revolution it’s a wrist breaking epic). Donna Tartt’s The Secret History was my favourite book for most of my early 20s. And ANYTHING by British author Rose Tremain -I am a massive fan girl- start with Restoration or The Colour but seriously everying she writes is great. Thanks for a great post and great comments CupOfJo!

  105. I would love to see a list of Caroline’s favourite classic novels!
    Great post :)

  106. Like @bananastand I love Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Interpreter of Maladies”. Ms. Lahiri is one of my favorite writers and I am currently reading her most recent novel, “The Lowlands”. I recently read Anya Von Bremzen’s memoir, “Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking” -part cookbook, part memoir, and part history lesson it is easily in my top five books. I’ve never read anything like it and I highly recommend it. As for classics, John Steinbeck is my absolute favorite author. I read “Travels with Charley in Search of America” on my honeymoon a couple of years ago and absolutely loved it. His writing is so poignant and thoughtful. Plus it reminds me of where I’m from -Northern California. Looking forward to reading some of Caroline’s recommendations!

  107. I love this post! I agree with all the commenters above, let’s make it a series. I like how it has a kind of theme or maybe more genre specific (all female authors, lots of short stories). Can’t wait to read these books and read future recommendations, as well. I just bought the book Lena Dunham mentioned in her interview with you that inspired her to write her only piece of fan mail (Love Poems by Nikki Giovanni).

    Adding these to my list stat!

  108. Yay! Adding all of these to my library hold list.

    I recently had to come up with my top 5 ever and Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing is in my top 5, too. I love it so much I buy all of the copies I find at used book stores and hand them out to other women.

    My other 4 (and I agree, it’s not fair to have to choose) were The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Cloud Atlas, Jitterbug Perfume, and The Time Traveler’s Wife.

    Agree we need a regular posting on this topic!

  109. This is such an awesome feature! Please keep it coming! I learned about Bad Feminist from Caroline, which has become one of my favorites.
    I am reading Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm right now – its a subtle thriller and so unique. I’ve also loved Jesmyn Ward’s memoir and fiction as well as Leslie Jamison.

  110. I’m with everyone else–I love good book recommendations, and it’s always such a joy to see fellow readers chime in with their favorites!
    I’ve hit the jackpot recently, reading some really amazing sci-fi by Brandon Sanderson, but I also really loved The Thirteenth Tale (I’ll recommend this to everyone till the day I die!) and more recently, The Swan Thieves, by Elizabeth Kostova. Her debut was The Historian, and this sophomore novel was just as intriguing and just as….beguiling? I couldn’t put it down. I missed a day of work just so I could curl up on the couch with it.
    Caroline, do you keep all the books you read, or are you a library junky? I love them all so much, I try to buy them to read, so I can reread them over and over. Plus I love to see my shelves fill up!

  111. I recently read three classics that I loved: “To kill a mocking bird”, “The catcher in the rye” and “East of Eden”.

  112. I am going to read all of those! I recently read Station Eleven and loved it, and now I am reading Big Little Lies and love that one too.

  113. Wonderful! I’m always excited to get a list of recommended books. Caroline’s descriptions were so fun too! I bet she could make the dictionary sound like a thrilling read.

  114. These are great recommendations. Two of my all-time favorites are Love In The Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marques and Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

  115. I haven’t heard of any of these before, so my reading list just got a little longer. Thanks for the amazing suggestions, Caroline!

  116. I love when you post about books! its my favorite addiction. Curious to know if you are Caroline are on Goodreads? Would love to follow you there if so. Thanks!

    ps. i just finished reading Ordinary People.. so classic.

  117. Thank you for the recommendations. Always on the hunt for something delicious to read, ESPECIALLY if it’s written by badass women. Would love to see C’s favorite books/recommendations as a regular feature as well.

  118. I once heard Lorrie Moore read at a writer’s conference in Chicago. The auditorium was packed, and when she finished, there was this collective gasp. Best reading ever. She’s amazing. Also, if you love Melissa Bank and Lorrie Moore, you should be reading Pam Houston! You’d love her.

  119. LOVE this! I would absolutely love to see this as a regular feature. I am always looking for new good read recommendations from people whose taste I trust!

  120. I second what Lauren said. Please make this a regular feature! I also agree that it would be great to follow you guys on Goodreads. I love using that site.

  121. Caroline, I love that you love Lorrie Moore. She is by far one of my favorite authors. Glad she made your list!

  122. I immediately went online for my library and put all of the books “on my shelf” to read at my own pace. I’m so excited! I agree, this should be a regular segment on here. Great idea.
    A book previously mentioned on an interview on Cup of Jo was Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. I read that, loved it, and went on to read Wild and then see the movie with my sister (with Reese Witherspoon). Not long after seeing Wild, my sister lost her mother in law to cancer. I had no idea that the story of Wild would hit so close to home at that time for us. Cheryl is a beautiful and fierce writer, her work is definitely worth reading!

  123. Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, One Day by David Nicholls (MUCH better than the movie!) and his latest effort “Us”.

  124. Awesome! I grew up reading Anna Quindlen’s column in Newsweek and LOVED Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake. She is the best. So excited to her on this list. Great post!!

  125. I LOVE Lorrie Moore. She writes the kind of books that I want to push into strangers’s arms after I finish. I’ve added “The Girls’ Guide…” to my list. Can’t wait to read it. Thanks, Caroline!

  126. @carolineno, i’ve heard great things about wolf hall!

  127. Joanna, do you have a Goodreads account? It’s the most awesome way to keep track of what you and your friends have read/are reading/want to read. I’m kind of obsessed. You should check it out! I’d love to follow you on there.

  128. My favorite book is Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. It is a collection of beautiful short stories, and the last story… wow… it has stayed with me since I read it in seven years ago. Has anyone else read it and knows what I am talking about?

  129. I agree with Lauren Fraley – please make this a regular feature! I’m a librarian and HUGE reader and I love to hear what others are reading :)

  130. I agree with Lauren, LOVE the idea of you making this a regular thing. I have taken book suggestions from Cup of Jo in the past and have never been disappointed!

  131. I just tore through the Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante (My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay) – the most engaging and accurate depiction of female friendship I’ve ever seen. I should have paced myself – the fourth and final novel in the series doesn’t come out until September and I don’t know if I’ll survive the wait!!

  132. @Madeline, those are two of my favorite books, too! I love The Secret Place (Tana French) right now, as well.

  133. Love the sound of these recs, thanks. Have got the Adichie queued up, loved Americanah. My Kindle is packed full of ladies, also. Enjoyed Roxane Gay and Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed recently, and the Kim Gordon memoir. A favourite I keep thinking of (I never reread books, maybe I should!) are the Merivel books, so funny, highly recommend. Also thinking about tackling Wolf Hall after loving the BBC adaptation recently. Mmmmbooks!

  134. I’m so excited to check out some of these! To Kill a Mockingbird is better every time I read it (and I’ve read it a lot since I’ve taught it to high school students for the past nine years!). I also couldn’t put down The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. It’s such an interesting story about storytelling and it has a cool gothic feel to it.


  135. Thanks!! Please make this a regular thing :)

  136. My favorite book of all time was The Goldfinch, absloutely incredible. I am now reading The Bone Clocks and absolutely love it. Great suggestions Caroline!!!

  137. I would LOVE to see Caroline do this regularly, especially since she’s a “volume” reader and cranking through a few books every month! PLEASE PLEASE make this a regular round up!

  138. I’m reading Kim Gordon’s memoir, Girl In A Band. It’s not as good as I was hoping, but still worth it.

  139. This is a great list. “Self Help” is one of my absolute absolute favorite books of all time but I was so disappointed by Lorrie Moore’s latest short story collection “Bark” — it just wasn’t as engaging and compelling and a lot of the stories felt sort of unfinished and phoned-in. And under-edited, maybe.

  140. i can’t choose favorite books. i like books. but the more recent books that i’ve enjoyed in the last year or so: Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed, This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper and Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

  141. Thank you so much for sharing, Caroline! You seem like such a genuine girl and we would be good friends :) I have not read any of these and just added them to my Goodreads account!

  142. The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing IS MY FAVORITE BOOK EVER. I’ve reread it so many times. LOVE it. Thanks for the other suggestions!