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15 Great Reader Comments on Books

Are you reading any good books these days? Whenever we post about anything related to reading, our comments section goes BANANAS. So, to continue our best comments series, here are 15 smart gems on everything from how to read to babies to the most frequently recommended books…

On connecting through reading:

“When we first got together, my partner and I each swapped five books that were important to us. We also wrote a little paragraph for each book, to explain why it was so important and where it fit into our life story. I would recommend it to any new (or old!) couple, because it gives insight into who your partner was, and is, but also who they would like to be.” — Caroline

“My husband and I read out loud to each other every night. We’ve devoured everything by David Sedaris, James Herriot’s books, All the Light We Cannot See and so many others.” — Kate

“I was dating a guy who found out that my favorite book is Jane Eyre. One night out of the blue, he said he wanted to discuss something with me, and promptly whipped out a copy of Jane Eyre. He had been furiously reading the whole thing just so we could talk about it together because he knew I loved it. Reader, I married him.” — Shannon

On the transporting power of stories:

“One of my favorite memories happened in Portland, Oregon, on my first ever solo trip. I went to Powell’s and bought a book by David Sedaris. I opened it as soon as I sat down at a burger restaurant. The burger was delicious, and I still dream about the fries, but the best part was that the book was so funny I started laughing out loud – and soon after, actual tears were streaming down my face. I kept turning the pages with my greasy fingers and wiping my face with dirty napkins trying not to laugh too loudly.” — Sophie

The Year of Magical Thinking was published shortly before my husband became terminally ill, but I didn’t read it until he died. While the year that followed was a blur, I can remember almost every single word of that book. There were times when I felt as if I were reading my own words. Recalling it now, I am transported back to that time when I lived in my bed, surrounded by books and magazines so it would not seem empty. I hardly remember getting up and making sure my children were fed and off to school, but I remember reading that book. I will always be thankful for it.” — Elinor May

On the gift that keeps on giving:

“I have a large family, and for the holidays each year we do a ‘white elephant’ style book exchange. Everyone gets their favorite book from that year and writes a note about why they’re giving it. After much picking, unwrapping and stealing, everyone ends up with a great book to start the new year.” — Mariah

On reader recommendations:

“I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read Beloved by Toni Morrison, but this is the first time I’ve read it since becoming a mother and it’s an entirely different book now, because I’m an entirely different person. That’s the great thing about an amazing novel, you can read it over and over and get something new out of it.” — Lisa

“I am forever in love with Kate Morton’s books. Has anyone else read them? She is such a sneaky author, always leading you one way before a final mind-blowing twist, her character development is fantastic and her plot structure, generally switching between a couple different story/timelines, keeps you on your toes. I had to pry myself away from The Lake House last night at bedtime. I’ve loved all her other books, especially The House at Riverton and The Secret Keeper.” — Amanda

Educated is the best book I’ve read this year. Harrowing, painful, empathetic, beautiful. In places it hit close to home, because I was homeschooled by extremely religious parents, but there is something in her survival story that almost anyone can relate to.” — Julie

On the magic of poetry:

“My six-year-old daughter and I memorized the Yeats poem, ‘When You are Old,’ by listening to Cillian Murphy recite it on YouTube. His voice (and insanely handsome face) made it an incredibly easy task for both of us. Lucy now performs it regularly for teachers, neighbors in the elevator, grocery store cashiers, at bedtime, and she uses the same inflections as the Cillian Murphy version. It’s so charming.” — Mandy

“I’m a pretty avid reader but have spent the last thirty-odd years of my life shunning poetry because I didn’t think I liked or understood it. I just discovered it again reading Bone by Yrsa Daley-Ward, which is beautiful and chilling. Poetry is great for the in-between moments to carry in your purse; they’re easy to pick up and put down in the course of the day.” — Jenna

On the most beautiful words you’ve ever read:

“From Ru by Kim Thúy: ‘I never had any questions except the one about the moment when I could die. I should have chosen the moment before the arrival of my children, for since then I’ve lost the option of dying. The sharp smell of their sun-baked hair, the smell of sweat on their backs when they wake from a nightmare, the dusty smell of their hands when they leave a classroom, meant that I have to live, to be dazzled by the shadow of their eyelashes, moved by a snowflake, bowled over by a tear on their cheek. My children have given me the exclusive power to blow on a wound to make the pain disappear, to understand words unpronounced, to possess the universal truth, to be a fairy. A fairy smitten with the way they smell.'” — Liv

On reading to kids:

“In Italy, we have a nationwide program called ‘Nati per leggere’ (‘Born to read’), which promotes reading to children from the very first months. Our pediatrician even wrote ‘Start reading books aloud’ as a prescription when they were newborns. We started giving them board books to handle, to help the baby become familiar with books and consider them just as engaging as toys.” — Valeria

We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems breaks the fourth wall and is hysterical. Kids love it, and for the adult reader, the self-awareness of the characters and the awareness of reading it cultivates in the child are really cool.” — K.

On the thrill of a good, ol’ book:

“My husband and I were buying books for our upcoming vacation, and his selections included A Passage to India and Heart of Darkness, while mine were all romance novels fully adorned in magenta pink covers. The sales associate looked at our books and asked me if I didn’t want some higher quality literature. My response: ‘As an avid reader who was also an English major, I’ve already read both of my husband’s book selections and I can assure you that I am going to enjoy my vacation reading time much more than he will.’” — J. Marie

What’s your favorite book? We’d love to hear. Tons of readers have also raved about this and this.

P.S. A terrifying book and five favorite graphic novels.

  1. Angela says...

    Has anyone made or considered making a giant shared Goodreads shelf of all the recommendations from the comments on here? I can imagine it would have quite a few followers based on these comments :)

  2. Beth says...

    To whomever recommended John Boyne’s “The heart’s invisible furies,” a million times thank you! Summer is my heavy reading time and of the 15 novels I read between may 1 and Sept 1, this is my fave. And I am only 3/4 of the way through it. Love these comment sections THE MOST .

  3. Liz Aviles says...

    The Heart by Maylis de Kerangal is the best book I’ve read this year. Translated from French, it tells the story of a human heart and the lives it touches as it travels from the body of a young man to the woman who receives it as a transplant recipient. It’s absolutely lovely, heartbreaking, and poetic. It will be the book I exchange at my first ever “white elephant” swap this year (what a wonderful idea!). I read about it on Bill Gates’ wonderful blog where he often recommends books.

  4. I just finished reading Many Lives, Many Masters. Usually I’ve ADD and tend to do multiple things between reading, however this book was so fascinating that I couldn’t put it down. I started reading it at around 6pm, took a quick break for dinner and finished it by 1am. Everyone must read this book.

  5. Laurie Alvarado says...

    Hi Tina! I got into audiobooks a few years ago and my morning commutes have never been the same. Two audiobooks of my first audiobooks that are still my favorites are Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl and Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz. Garlic and Sapphires is so funny and I absolutely loved it. Julia Child is just so fascinating and I loved this one as well. As someone who has had her fair share of dental work done, best of luck to you!!

    • Tina, NYC says...

      Thank you so much Laurie for the great recommendations and your well wishes! Dare I say I’m actually getting excited for my dental appointment.

  6. Betsy says...

    I just finished How to Murder your Life by Cat Marnell. It was so intense.

  7. Cassy says...

    I have often described my relationship with my oldest child as oil and water; we just don’t understand each other, our brains seem to operate on different levels. He has a scientific mind whose natural grasp of science surpassed mine by the time he was 6. He learned to read young, and well above his grade level, just to read science books. Most of his questions (and he asks a lot and almost all about science ) I answer with, “I don’t know,” “Let’s Google it,” or “Ask daddy.” His questions often make me feel stupid, I feel I should know the answers; I’m educated. I have a Master’s in literature! but he hated fiction and we had no common context in which to connect conversation. Then I homeschooled him for fourth grade and I assigned him to read “Holes” by Louis Sachar. Imagine my surprise when I found him a few days later reading it in his bed with a flashlight at 11 p.m. He said,” I’m so tired and I want to go to sleep but I just can’t stop reading! It’s so good!” I handed him back his flashlight, wished good reading, and made sure not to wake him up in the morning as I got my other children ready for the day. After dropping my youngest off at preschool, I woke him up and we talked not just about the book. Now we talk about books frequently and have been able to branch out into other topics since we can refer back to common stories to gain common understanding. Books emulsified my relationship with my son and it is wonderful.

    • Rachel says...

      My son had his first “I can’t put this book down and I know it’s way past my bedtime” experience with Holes in 4th grade too! First time he thought of himself as a reader. He demanded that I read it too so we could discuss it. He was right. It’s a great book!

  8. Kelly P says...

    I just listened to Cillian Murphy reading When You Are Old and now I’m crying at my desk. It absolutely took my breath away. This is quite surprising since I (supposedly) hate poetry. Maybe I just need Cillian Murphy to read poetry to me in order to love it?

  9. Tina,NYC says...

    Dearest readers and CoJ team,

    I love all your recommendations and have been requesting on my library’s overdrive app. I just wish I had more time to read but I steal away from daily activities to read.

    Question for you all, I have an epic 5 hour dentist appt in 2 weeks.

    Any Audio books/long podcasts you would recommend? No horror/psychological suspense would be my only limitation. Just read Sharp objects and didn’t sleep for two days. Great read just not for me.

    I want something I can get lost in with good story told by some great voices. I Wont be able to concentrate too hard since I will be somewhat uncomfortable.

    Thanks!!

    • Molly K says...

      I recommend Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout. It felt like sitting on a bench people-watching, but you really get deep into the characters’ stories. I found it engrossing, because the details Strout includes and her honesty about what goes through the thoughts of humans made it feel genuine. I listened to it using the free app called Libby. With that app though, a popular book will likely have a waiting period before it is available.

    • Laurie Alvarado says...

      Hi Tina! I got into audiobooks a few years ago and my morning commutes have never been the same. Two audiobooks of my first audiobooks that are still my favorites are Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl and Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz. Garlic and Sapphires is so funny and I absolutely loved it. Julia Child is just so fascinating and I loved this one as well. As someone who has had her fair share of dental work done, best of luck to you!!

    • Meredith says...

      Perhaps try Modern Love the podcast? They are short stories picked from the New York Times column by the same name. Some episodes are heavier than others, but it’s super easy listening. It’s my favorite thing to listen to when I’m driving back and forth between Nashville and Birmingham.

    • adrianne says...

      I love Dax Shepard’s podcast, “Armchair Expert”. I was so pleasantly surprised by his insights to relationships and how funny and lovely he is with all his guests. His podcasts are on the longer side, with most being about 2 hours, so they’re great for long drives (or dentist appointments). They’re all wonderful, but my favorite is probably his first episode with his wife, Kristen Bell. Hope this is helpful!