Design

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. cindy says...

    I LOVE these book related posts but I wish the books would link out to an indie bookstore (like Joanna’s local, Books Are Magic) or sites such as indiebound.org. They may not have affiliate programs, and readers may still end up buying the book on Amazon due to price and convenience, but it would mean a lot to see a major blog like CoJ show support to indie booksellers.

  2. diana k. says...

    I should memorize more poems! In high school I had to memorize the first verse of Kubla Khan and I still have it in me today. It was a small humanities-focused school that was steeped in the Classics and we had to memorize the opening of the Illiad and the Ephebic Oath, which Greek soldiers used to recite before entering battle- while those two are a little fuzzier, their sentiments have stayed with me.

    • Yes! I can still recited “Ozymandius” from memorizing it in 6th grade :)

  3. I love all of those comments! One of the things that I love about this blog (besides all of your great articles) is reading your readers’ comments! You have an incredible group of followers and they inform me all of the time. They make me laugh and feel teary.
    This post reminds me of two wonderful things:
    A few summer vacations, during which my husband and I spent long days on a beautiful beach reading to each other. Great memories! I’ve started my own blog post about that.
    Last week, while at a restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard, I noticed two teenagers with their parents seated at a restaurant with their parents. The boy was reading a book! I’m talking printed, physical, page turning stuff. I haven’t seen a kid reading a book at a restaurant in years. He moved and I caught sight of his sister, who was also reading a book. Almost in awe, I whispered to my husband about it. We smiled and were so happy. Books live on!

  4. Julia says...

    I tell you what: Since reading Cup of Jo I ONLY download your reader’s favorites on my kindle and I was never disappointed. This way I got to read these wonderful books: The Circle, The Language of Flowers, My Name is Lucy Barton, Me Before You, When Breath Becomes Air, The Girl on the Train, A Little Life, and currently David Sedaris’ “Me Talk Pretty One Day”.
    Thank you!

  5. aki says...

    The comment sections of COJ are my go-to place when I need book recommendations and they never fail! I’ve just done Educated by Tara Westover, which was so moving and (interestingly) relatable, and before that I read Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, which I enjoyed thoroughly. I sincerely wish the search bar could locate not just posts by COJ team but reader comments as well!

  6. Julia says...

    Shannon’s Jane Eyre comment – I’m bawling.

  7. Bernie says...

    My husband reads almost exclusively nonfiction and I go the opposite way. This year we decided to each read a book chosen for us by the other, keeping personal taste in mind. I chose American Gods by Neil Gaiman and he picked Arc of Justice by Kevin Boyle.

    Spoiler alert: neither of have read the assigned book yet! Let’s see if our pact can overcome habit before the year ends.

    • Robin says...

      Good choice! Did you read the graveyard book? I can’t take some of gaiman’s books – horror is definitely not for me- but I loved that one. Neverwhere is also pretty perfect.

  8. Ahhhh this post makes me so excited–throughout the years I’ve gotten so many of my book recommendations from the posts and reader comments on CoJ.

    I want to share a quote that stirred me to my core…
    From “Exit West” (a book I know you loved, Joanna): “…that is the way of things, with cities as with life, for one moment we are pottering about our errands as usual and the next we are dying, and our eternally impending ending does not put a stop to our transient beginnings and middles until the instant when it does.”

  9. Michelle says...

    Picking a favorite book is pretty much impossible! I’d be the person lugging a suitcase full of books up the beach of that metaphorical desert island. I’m currently re-reading Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett for the umpteenth time, and it is funnier and more delightful each time. I’m also in the middle of a short book of essays by George Orwell titled Books and Cigarettes (the title was too good to resist). It’s also delightful.

    When my daughter was a few months old and would stay put on my lap, I read her Pride and Prejudice and Matilda. Now that she’s 2 and a half, I’m loving the original Winnie the Pooh.

    Also, I’m immensely proud of myself for getting my husband into Harry Potter when we first started dating. He’s read (and re-read, and re-read) them all!

  10. Nikki says...

    I’ve posted this before but my boyfriend is in a highly deployed unit in the Marine Corps. Our men and women in uniform do a TON of reading during their down time.

    Often when there isn’t much to say and we just miss each other we will read aloud to one another or we will pick a book and read the same chapter each night or two and talk about it. It’s a sweet way to grow closer and hear each other’s voice. Often I will find New Yorker magazine articles he will like and record them for him.

    Sidenote- if you are a wonderful person who sends care packages to our service men abroad (or your church group does) send books. :) Little know fact most prefer less toiletries and candy, but more books and magazines haha.

    • Julie says...

      Oh, I love this! Is there a trustworthy organization you would recommend for sending books?

  11. Martini says...

    If I had two sweet little boys I couldn’t think of anything better to read to them than “Ali Baba and The 40 Thieves / A Thousand and One Arabian Nights” !
    I’m old now, but I still remember as a child in the 50’s how a very dear teacher read them to us each day….IF we had good behavior. Us kids would scold our classmates who might cause her not to read to us…how dreadful a thought! We’d tear up in sadness that we might miss the next adventure of Ali Baba. What escapism for a child…and adults. I imagine what we must have looked like as she read, hands under our chins, mouths agape and eyes huge with wonder. Time of our lives.
    I bet your boys would marvel at them and treasure the memory of them.
    Open Sesame!

  12. Emily says...

    I’ve made my career in books. For 20 years I have marketed and sold them, mainly cookbooks, but recently began work for a publisher who also publishes fiction and YA fiction. I can say that the publishing industry is mostly full of incredible humans who have one thing in common-a love of reading. And it’s a wonderful place to make a life.

    I’m also raising a reader and my number one tip for that–read with your child early and often, then read beside your child, read the books they are reading as they get older and encourage them to read your favorites as they advance in age.

    My favorite novel of all time is Plainsong by Kent Haruf-a gem of a novel that I re-read every ten years or so. Recent favorites include Sing Unburied Sing, whose praises I have “sung” here before. I also LOVE and highly recommend a post-apocalyptic novel called Station Eleven, about how creatives save the world. It’s incredible. Honestly, I have too many favorites in too many categories to name.

    Books have saved my life time and time again and nothing brings me greater pleasure than tucking in before bed with my almost 11-year-old next to me while we unwind with reading for 30-45 minutes. It’s the best way to end a day.

    • Robin says...

      Have you read any Cynthia Voight? Dicey’s song and homecoming are two of her best books. They’re YA but complex and beautifully, simply written. Absolutely worth reading as an adult. Your recommendations made me think of them.

    • Emily says...

      Robin-I loved Cynthia Voight as a teenager. I feel writing like hers is somewhat absent in young adult fiction today. I also loved Chaim Potok at the same age. Such great novelists, both of them.

    • Kent Haruf is a splendid gem…..thanks for the reminder to pick up Plainsong again. Such a wonderful book!

  13. I managed to read 6 books during our family holiday this Summer – probably the most ever (possibly a reflection of travelling with 2 teenage boys!)
    A standout for me was PACHINKO by Min Jin Lee, a historical family saga set in Japan and Korea. – I highly recommend it.

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      Team Pachinko over here too. More people need to discover how phenomenal it is.

  14. Natalie Clapp says...

    I feel like you gals will appreciate this….

    I was walking down Washington (in Crown Heights) and came across a used book sidewalk sale. Saw a copy of Call Me By Your Name. Opened it up and there was THE SWEETEST love letter written from a woman to a man from 1995!!!! She called him “my sweet eucalyptus”. The love letter made it sound like they were new to the relationship and using that book to read together and connect on. He wrote notes in the margins with cliff notes on the back cover for them to discuss. It’s now one of my most prized possessions.

    • Lindsey says...

      Oh my goodness, I LOVE that!!

    • Laura says...

      I found a copy of Late Nights on Air in a used bookstore once with the same thing. It was given by a man to someone who he must have been interested in romantically at the time (not explicit in the inscription, but thinly veiled). Also one of my most prized possessions. I often wonder what became of them!

    • Heather says...

      Oh, what an incredible find! I would cherish that, too!
      I came to the comments section to express how much I love Call Me By Your Name, and found your comment! It’s a book that has stayed with me, long after reading.

  15. Nicole says...

    To echo Sophie’s comment in part: I just started “Calypso”: a collection of David Sedaris’ work. I’m that woman crying and laughing on an MTA commute throughout NYC. I can’t put it down.

  16. Cait says...

    I’m a Gretchen Rubin fan, and as well as enjoying her own books and her podcast, I love how she embraces her passion for children’s literature. So many great classics for children, as well as modern books, are worth reading again as an adult! I’ll always reread the Narnia books every so often, and there are books I read as a teen or even preteen that struck me so deeply that I’ll keep them forever and can’t wait to share with my children, or have already enjoyed reading aloud with them. For parents, a great resource is Read Aloud Revival, a blog and podcast with fantastic recommendations and tips for encouraging a love of literature in your kids, as well as keeping the tradition of reading aloud together.

  17. Meg says...

    That quote from Ru ❤😭

  18. Amanda says...

    I can’t seem to get into fiction most of the time, and non-fiction can get boring, but I’ve been reading Julia Child’s “My Life in France” and it is so nice to read. I read all day for work so it’s tough to get excited about reading when I get home, but that book is so transporting and relaxing that I look forward to it every night.

    • Martini says...

      Amanda, I feel the same about Julia’s book.
      I’ve been savoring it for months now, not wanting it to end. I nibble a bit here, nibble a bit there, enjoying each small bite.
      I bet you’d love “Julia and Julie” if you haven’t already seen it.
      I live near the Smithsonian here in DC and have enjoyed the privilege of seeing Julia’s kitchen there. Amazing! It’s on line also, in case you aren’t able to visit it.

    • Ashley says...

      I LOVED that book — I found it at a goodwill like a week after watching Julie & Julia for the first time (like late year) and tried to not read it all at once — I went slowly so I could savor it. She made me want to move to Marseille!

  19. patricia blaettler says...

    John Cheever is a great American writer. Home Before Dark is a biography of him written by his daughter, Susan. I won’t say more, but if you’re looking for something to read, anything by him would be worthwhile. Not exactly uplifting, but so so beautifully written.

    • Oooh, I love this!

  20. Lori says...

    My favorite book this year has been Legendary by Stephanie Garber. If you love getting swept away, this one is for you. YA Fantasy FTW!
    Or if you’re more of a Jane Austen sort of reader, check out Frederica by Georgette Heyer.
    GAH BOOKS! I love them so much :)

  21. Julie says...

    That holiday book exchange seems like the best of all possible holidays (with the best of all possible families!).

  22. Lauren E. says...

    For the past year and a half I’ve been working very hard at getting a romance novel published. My husband, who loves Dickens and Hemingway and other “highbrow” authors, just finished my second completed manuscript and said, “How lucky am I that I get to go to bed with my favorite author?” :)

  23. Katie says...

    I just read Come as You Are and it was the most encouraging, reassuring, inspiring take on female sexuality. I’m so excited to put what I’ve learned into practice ;)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’ve heard the best things about this book!

    • Abra says...

      YES!! I loved it. Similarly, everything Esther Perel writes and says makes me feel more at peace about sexuality. Her podcast “Where Should We Begin” is earth shattering.

  24. Tori says...

    I am currently reading Michael Pollan’s new book, “How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence” and it is the MOST FASCINATING THING I HAVE READ. It is constantly blowing my mind and has me excited for the future of psychedelics, which I knew approximately zero about before I picked up the book.

    • Claire says...

      Oh, I heard his interview on Fresh Air and it was fascinating! thanks for the reminder on this – I will add it to my list.

    • Meg says...

      Reading this right now too – it’s so so fascinating!

  25. Ha – I was about to comment about what my favorite book is (hard to choose, so I’m picking my favorite of the past few years) and then clicked on your links to books other readers loved….and there it was!

    The Heart’s Invisible Furies a hundred times over!

    • Lauren E. says...

      Just finished it based on recommendations on Cup of Jo! Utterly brilliant. Ireland is one of my favorite places in the world but I had no idea about this side of the country’s history.

  26. Courtney says...

    The next Kate Morton book comes out on September 12th! I can’t wait!

    • Kerri says...

      I’m so excited!!!!

  27. For books you don’t need opinions, what you all need is interest.There is no doubt that the books you have recommended are good but a true reader will crave for what he wants to read.

  28. tracy sane says...

    hello,
    I do apologize up front. this comment is only offered in support of the few remaining indy book sources. please, please, if you are going to recommend a book, please don’t provide an immediate link to amazon. it really is disheartening to consider the closure of independent bookstores simultaneous to the ever enlarging role of an industry killing monopoly such as amazon.

    • Marla says...

      Agreed! Local, independent bookstores are important to the communities in which they are located. They need your support! Buy local!

    • Dani says...

      I actually really appreciate the Amazon links solely because I’m someone who immediately wants to read up on a recommended book’s synopsis and I can’t think of another large database that would have every book mentioned. That being said, I completely agree regarding the importance of supporting our sweet, local bookstores and though the Amazon link lets me learn up about the book immediately, I actually don’t purchase through the site – I jot down all the books I’ve learned of and head to my local book stores :)

    • Rachel says...

      AGREED! Not only does it undercut struggling bricks and mortar bookshops, it is also disheartening to see these links considering the more we learn about Amazon’s unethical treatment of staff, and the way their cost cutting is massively affecting authors’ wages. Please consider linking to other shops or goodreads instead.

    • Molly K says...

      Dani, I love using the Goodreads app to read a synopsis and some reviews (the most-liked reviews are at the top). And I trust the rating of a book more on Goodreads than on Amazon.

      Other bookish apps and things: I use Libby, a free app that allows me to download ebooks and audiobooks for two weeks at a time for free through my local library. There is often a wait for the books I want, but I don’t mind.

      And I enjoy sifting through a handful of book descriptions each day in the Goodreads deals email, which offers ebooks for $1-3. I’ve gotten faster at knowing which ones to skip over and which ones are likely to be my kind of read.

  29. “Books are uniquely portable magic” Stephen King
    My own thoughts…. books help you re -energize, escape, travel in your mind, focus, and I am convinced they help me lead a more balanced happy life. I just read Arcadia, Educated and 6 other novels while on a 2 week holiday in Italy and I feel calm positive and fulfilled. Lauren Groff is outstanding.. as is anything by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Donna Tarte, Julia Glass… also, I really love the ardent biblio on instagram. I have not yet read the fat ” A little life” but I know I will devour it in no time. I did not enjoy “all the light you cannot see ” as much as all your readers, but I can recommend ones like “Between shades of grey ” by Ruta Sepetys. happy reading from France!

  30. vveronika says...

    My favourite book at the moment is Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies. I love finding suggestions by famous people I like. This book was Obama’s favourite for 2015 – I was curious why he chose this one. I think reading a book suggested by him brought a bit closer to him in a way. The book is bold, modern, sometimes shockingly brutal – so Obama prooved again he is a cool guy.

    • Lindsey says...

      One of my absolute favorite books! I read it maybe three years ago and still recommend it all the time. Her prose is so elegant!

    • addie says...

      I loved this book. I read it a few years ago, and I still think about it from time to time. I think this is one I’ll revisit.

  31. Sophie says...

    Seeing my comment in a “best of” COJ post (about books!!) feels like I’ve won an award or something ;) It’s funny, I listened to a podcast with David Sedaris yesterday and thought back to this moment. It’s still a memory very dear to my heart… and I still dream about those fries, lol.

    Anyways, off to create a “recommended by COJ” tag on my Goodreads now – I think it’s officially time!

    • Caroline says...

      Me too! I immediately texted my friend who reads Cup of Jo to tell her! :D

  32. Martini says...

    Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s “Gift From The Sea”, is a gift for every woman.
    From Amazon:
    In this inimitable classic, Anne Morrow Lindbergh shares her meditations on youth and age, love and marriage, peace, solitude, and contentment during a brief vacation by the sea.

    Drawing inspiration from the the shells on the shore, Lindbergh’s musings on the shape of a woman’s life will bring new understanding to readers, male and family, at any stage of life. A mother of five and professional writer, she casts an unsentimental eye at the trappings of modern life that threaten to overwhelm us — the timesaving gadgets that complicate our lives, the overcommitments that take us from our families — and by recording her own thoughts in a brief escape from her everyday demands, she guides her readers to find a space for contemplation and creativity in their own lives. With great wisdom and insight she describes the shifting shapes of relationships and marriage, presenting a vision of a life lived in enduring and evolving partnership. A groundbreaking work when it was first published, this book has retained its freshness as it has been rediscovered by generations of readers and is no less current today.

    • Tina, NYC says...

      Martini, what a beautiful depiction of this book! I have just requested it in my overdrive app from my public library. Thank you!!!

  33. Suzieq says...

    Elinor May’s comment resonates with me so strongly. Nora Ephron audio books saved me during the first stages of my divorce. Even now, two years later, I tear up thinking about her words flowing through my ears as I took long walks, pushing a stroller with my infant in it, surviving.

  34. LB says...

    I recently read Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and this passage really stayed with me (particularly as my little one is about to turn 2 and I think towards the future):

    “Parents, she thought, learned to survive touching their children less and less. As a baby Pearl had clung to her; she’d worn Pearl in a sling because whenever she’d set her down, Pearl would cry. There’d scarcely been a moment in the day when they had not been pressed together. As she got older, Pearl would still cling to her mother’s leg, then her waist, then her hand, as if there was something in her mother she needed to absorb through the skin. Even when she had her own bed, she would often crawl into Mia’s in the middle of the night and burrow under the old patchwork quilt, and in the morning they would wake up tangled, Mia’s arm pinned beneath Pearl’s head, or Pearl’s legs thrown across Mia’s belly. Now, as a teenager, Pearl’s caresses had become rare—a peck on the cheek, a one-armed, half-hearted hug—and all the more precious because of that. It was the way of things, Mia thought to herself, but how hard it was. The occasional embrace, a head leaned for just a moment on your shoulder, when what you really wanted more than anything was to press them to you and hold them so tight you fused together and could never be taken apart. It was like training yourself to live on the smell of an apple alone, when what you really wanted was to devour it, to sink your teeth into it and consume it, seeds, core, and all.”

    • Wow!!! Just put this book on hold at my library. I haven’t an 8 year.old a five year old and a baby and I’m seeing the transition so I think this passage is just so fascinating

    • Erika says...

      Oh, I love this! I read somewhere about mothers being their children’s “touchstones,” and this passage really resonates with that.

    • Shirley says...

      I also just read Little Fires Everywhere and LOVED it! I tore through it in a few days (even with 2 kids who were not at camp!). I could not put it down and am still thinking about it a week later!

  35. I write book reviews (mostly of fiction), so I really enjoy reading nonfiction as a palate cleanser. I just finished Anna Clark’s ‘The Poisoned City’, about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and I highly recommend it. It’s short, easy to understand, and while some of the issues Clark discusses are Flint-specific, most of them can–and will–crop up elsewhere.

  36. Cathy says...

    I have read 71 books this year so far and by far my favorite has been My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan. It’s about a young woman who goes to Oxford looking for a once in a lifetime experience and ends up choosing to experience a lifetime. It is a beautiful story of love and sacrifice.
    My favorite children’s book has always been Mandy by Julie Edwards.

  37. Adore these comments (most especially the last one – though I loved Heart of Darkness;). And love the recommendations. I’m headed back to my library tomorrow…thank you!

  38. Meg says...

    Yes! Give me all the book posts! These bring me such joey. Franny, keep these coming! 💓

  39. Olivia says...

    Harry Potter. Ha!

    You’re just never too old for it. I’ve re-read the series a few times in the past 10 years and the magic of it is never lost on me. Just this week I started the first book over again because work is really stressful and I need to get lost in something before I close my eyes.

    It’s also just the best example of what your imagination can create if you just let it soar.

  40. Can a favorite book-I-am-about-to-read be a thing? That’s what I have: I just got a copy of BLACK AND WHITE AND RED ALL OVER, a memoir in alternating chapters by two Washington Post writers – Martha McNeil Hamilton, a white woman from Houston, and Warren Brown, a black man who grew up in New Orleans. The book is about their lives and friendship, and how the latter evolved to the point where she gave him one of her kidneys(!) in 2001.

    Warren is my wonderful friend’s dad, and as it happens, one of the first long conversations we ever had was about him: We were in a sauna at the same time, and our family talk stretched out for so long that no one knew where we were and they started to panic (surely we hadn’t been in that boiling room all that time?).

    Warren died a little over a week ago, and while I’d known he was an accomplished journalist, I hadn’t known about his friendship with Martha and their book until I read his obituary in the Post. The book sounds like a great read for anyone, but I can’t wait to know more about one of my friend’s lodestars. He was – and she is – extraordinary.

  41. Amy says...

    Omg the Jane Eyre comment! I remember that from when it was originally posted. Shannon, I’m so glad you married him!

  42. Claire says...

    OH MY GOD! Where is my Mr. Jane Eyre?!

  43. Jillian says...

    From a great article I loved about attempts to use virtual reality to make people more empathetic:

    “Fortunately, there is a better version of VR that avoids some of these problems. Affordable, durable, and small enough to hold in one hand, these devices allow you to simulate not only the physical environment of individuals, but also their psychological experiences, and can do this for multiple people, moving forward and backward in time. They enable you to experience the most private experiences of others, both by triggering your own memories and by extending your imagination in radical ways.

    These “empathy machines” are books, of course—as in novels and journalism and autobiography. When it comes to simulating physical experiences, they are not as powerful as certain alternatives. (If you want to know what it feels like to fall into a freezing lake, don’t open up a book; put a bag of ice into your bathtub and hop in.) And it might well be that language offers us a pale imitation of what another consciousness is like, especially when it comes to people whose experiences and beliefs are radically different from our own.

    But when it comes to understanding the lives of others, nothing else comes close.”

    (https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/02/virtual-reality-wont-make-you-more-empathetic/515511/)

  44. J. says...

    I read an article once about a study of some kind on the Harry Potter books and how children who read them demonstrated more empathy, especially towards those who are ‘different’ in some way, and how more broadly, children who experience a lot of books learn how to “walk around in someone else’s shoes” in a safe way– the characters aren’t real, so there is no expectation of how to react, and it’s okay to be fearful, or curious, or sad and demonstrate that in a way that might not be “okay” socially–that they carry with them into adulthood. Anecdotally, I find that I know many deeply empathetic people who aren’t avid readers, but nearly all of the biggest booklovers I love possess unusually deep stores of empathy and ability to understand others, which I don’t think is a coincidence and for which I’m so thankful.

  45. Jillian says...

    My parents gave me a library card as a third birthday present (which I don’t remember), but acted like THIS WAS A BIG DEAL! So I, being 3, decided reading = THE MOST EXCITING. A brilliant rule: each library trip, we could each check out however many books we were old. Genius, because 1) easier for a five year old to choose five books carefully 2) when rounding up the books to return, it was simple to say “you’re 6! there are 6 around here… somewhere” 3) every birthday we would near jump up and down in excitement at getting to get an extra book at the library!!! My sister and I are both voracious readers as adults, and I fully credit that to this idea.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, i love that, jillian!

  46. Kelly says...

    Any other readers out there who like fantasy? The Name of the Wind rivals Harry Potter level magic for me. My girlfriends and I have also recently all gotten into the Stormlight Archive series. After a long day, nothing is as transporting and relaxing.

    Also my favorite life hack to is to sign up for e-books through your local library and then download them directly to your kindle. The wait times can be long but I continually put in hold requests and then get alerts when they’re available!

    • A says...

      Yes, me! I read across most genres but there’s a special place in my heart for fantasy. I liked The Name of the Wind a lot for its craft and worldbuilding, though I didn’t care for Kvothe and the sequel I found disappointing. Jo Walton’s Among Others is a great, Hugo-award winning bit of boarding school fantasy for those growing out of Harry Potter (of course HP remains my all time fave). I just devoured Alwyn Hamilton’s ‘Rebel’ trilogy for a bit of light reading after some heavy non-fiction and really enjoyed it – but would love to hear more fantasy recommendations from other CoJ fantasy fans.

    • Caroline says...

      I agree with A about Name of the Wind – loved the first one, found the second one super disappointing. My ultimate fantasy recommendation is Uprooted by Naomi Novik, sadly a standalone but it is amazing. I also love the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, though she is an expert on killing or torturing your favourite characters so get ready for that. My husband loves everything by Robin Hobb so I am about to give Assassin’s Apprentice a go.

    • Ashley says...

      Brandon Sanderson is hands-down my favorite author, ever. I have so much respect for his world building and plot pacing and character development but mostly I love his trilogies.
      All that being said — I JUST started the Stormlight Archive. One, because it isn’t a complete series yet & i hate waiting! And two, because every time I started it it seemed super dense. So I borrowed the audiobooks & listened to the first two while on a (two month) road trip.
      And now I’m on Oathbringer & am trying to go slow enough for #4 to be published!

    • Jenny says...

      I also love the “Rebel” trilogy. If you love YA fantasy a few others to try are Renee Ahdieh, she’s written two duologies both of which have diverse settings and characters, The Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Garcia and The Elemental Trilogy by Sherry Thomas.

    • LOVE YA fantasy…I just finished “An Ember in the Ashes” (first of a trilogy) and absolutely loved it. I’ve also heard great things about “Strange the Dreamer” and am about to dive in to that one. I’ll keep checking back on this thread and have already added a few of your suggestions :)

    • Kara says...

      LOVE fantasy and sci fi, and always so happy hear suggestions! Some more recent favorites: The Broken Earth trilogy by NK Jemisin, and in the YA category: The Winner’s trilogy by Maria Rutkoski, all of Kristen Cashore’s books, but especially Fire and Graceling, and the new books by Veronica Roth, Carve the Mark and Fates Divide!

  47. Leah says...

    Book posts are my favorite! I love getting so many great recommendations.
    I just finished the Kevin Kwan trilogy, Crazy Rich Asians, China Rich Girlfriend, and Rich People Problems. I was on vacation and they were perfect for reading and relaxation.

  48. Mary says...

    Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T Lee. Absolutely incredible.

    • Nancey says...

      Lucia is still with me, months later. I can’t get her out of my head. Heartbreakingly wonderful book in so many wonderful ways. Just thinking about that book makes me miss it.

  49. Sunny says...

    During college my girlfriends and I started the book club and we exclusively read books written by Asian American writers to hear more of our voices in literature. We discovered so many amazing writers and loved the variety of stories. Just finished reading Do not say we have nothing by Madeleine Thines, and I couldn’t stop thinking about the characters and what happened in China during and post cultural revolution. So much love and heartbreaks in that book. Then my husband brought home a copy of Crazy Rich Asians… to cheer me up. And it definitely made me laugh… which I needed to come out of the other book.

    • Lilly says...

      Have you read Bury What We Cannot Take by Kirstin Chen? It’s a tough but ultimately kind of hopeful, resilient book about that period and I loved it. (Added Madeleine Thines to my own list, so wanted to offer something I enjoyed lately in return!)

  50. Allie says...

    I love Kate Morton! Also, her characters have the most delicious names. I first fell in love w my daughter’s name, Eliza, while reading a Kate Morton book.

  51. Erica says...

    When I was in graduate school for literature and reading for hours a day, often theory or fiction with extremely depressing subject matter (and loving it mostly!) I had a really hard time focusing on pleasure reading…unless it was YA or straight up smut. Not talking romance, which I feel has a grossly underestimated literary value, but essentially pornography in book form. You do what you need to do to take your mind off the pressures of grad school, I suppose! To this day when I’m feeling in a bit of a reading rut I give myself permission to read something light and easy. Often it’s all I need to get back into the habit of reading again. I just absolutely devoured ALL FIVE of the Selection series by Kiera Cass, and it was delightful.

  52. Erika says...

    Top 3 so far this year- in no particular order:

    1) Call Me American: Abdi Nor Iftin- about a Somalian immigrant’s journey to America. He was interviewed for a “This American Life” episode last year as well.

    2) Nocturnes: Kazuo Ishiguro- I’m a sucker for flowing short stories, and these stories were gorgeous. I need to read more of Ishiguro.

    3) Body Full of Stars: Molly Caro May- I’m 14 months postpartum. I nodded a lot, I said “I know!” out loud a lot; I completely embraced the fact that even though I love my daughter more than life itself, having a child will change everything, and it’s okay not to be okay with the constant change (physical, emotional, what have you). [really, I could probably write a Postpartum Book Guide at this point of my life]

    • Rebekah says...

      Do! I’m five weeks postpartum and would love to hear.

    • Chiara says...

      Please do! I’d love to hear your recommendations. I read “Of Woman Born” after my second was born and it hit me so hard. I also recently finished “After Birth” by Elisa Albert, which was good even though I didn’t muh like the narrator.

    • Erika says...

      Oh, I’ll have to check out “Of Woman Born.” I also read “After Birth,” and I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone, but I resonated with the narrator’s frustration as I had an unplanned c-section. I really enjoyed “Operating Instructions” by Anne Lamott. I’ve also been reading a lot more about slowing life down in general- some in regards to parenting (“Simplicity Parenting”) and some in regards to me (eg “Chasing Slow”). This is really more of an effort for my husband and I to slow down and be less consumed with work and activities.

  53. Andrea says...

    I’d watched the first episode of Sharp Objects on HBO and was intrigued so I bought the book and read it in less than two days!!!! OMG, it’s creepy and disturbing and I couldn’t put it down! Way better than the mini series which I find incredibly slow!

    • Tina, NYC says...

      Andrea, I was reading the NY mag recaps and couldn’t take it so I read the book. OMG I couldn’t sleep for a night. Not my cup of tea but it was sooo good!!

      I too Love These reader comments. And I too read things recommended here.

      I loved The Mothers, Exit West, Educated, Tell Me More, When Breathe Becomes Air, The Bright Hour, Sing Unburied, Sing, I am There Yet?, What we lose, Lincoln in the Bardo and so many more.

      For those fiction fans that are looking to find a non-fiction book may I suggest Evicted by Matthew Desmond. Reading It will both educate you and change you.

      The author followed a half dozen people fighting to keep from being evicted from their homes/apartments/mobile homes. frustrated by their daily injustices and larger tragedies, the reader walks in the proverbial shoes and learns so much.

  54. Lili says...

    Recommendation: Hourglass by Dani Shapiro.

    A memoir about a marriage that knocked me off my feet and I’m not even married. So, so worth reading (also it is very short and can be finished in a weekend).

    • L.K. says...

      I also loved this and highly recommend it.

  55. Abra says...

    This post and these comments bring me so much joy and camaraderie! I recently left my job in education where I wore a lot of hats including teaching reading to 5th and 6th graders and coaching reading teachers.

    I thought of book recommendations as my secret power as a teacher. When I felt like I couldn’t connect with a student; couldn’t motivate them; couldn’t build their trust in me, I’d turn to the shelves of the library in our classroom. Sometimes I’d leave the book on their desk overnight with a small note so they’d find it there — a little gift, as all books are — in the morning. There is something about being given a book by someone who cares for you in a moment when you feel vulnerable that can shatter your loneliness. And when you get the recommendation right, when you find the exact perfect match for that young person, It says to them, “I see you.” And after all, isn’t that what we all need?

    I love all the book sharing traditions in the comments! My husband and I keep a shared Google Doc of “Family Traditions,” many of which have come from this space and I finally have one to share back! My mom and dad selected a “Birthday Book” for us kids every year, inscribing messages in the front covers that I now re-read as momentary glimpses into who I was at that time. They remained picture books even as we grew up. Now I return the tradition by buying my parents birthday books (still picture books) and keep lists of books to gift one day when I have my own children.

    It must have been this early tradition that helped me internalize the spark of connection that is felt when someone chooses a book for you.

    I think the Love Language folks should seriously consider making “Book Recommendations” the sixth official Love Language! It would definitely be mine. <3

    • Liz says...

      I love this, all of this, so so much.

    • Brooke says...

      This is so dear Abra!! You sound like such a marvelous teacher and I agree books have really healed feelings of aloneness for me too. I love thinking of books as a love language.

    • Jillian says...

      Abra, I love this so much, particularly this line — “There is something about being given a book by someone who cares for you in a moment when you feel vulnerable that can shatter your loneliness. And when you get the recommendation right, when you find the exact perfect match for that young person, It says to them, “I see you.” And after all, isn’t that what we all need?” Made me tear up!!! What a gift to have teachers, and people, like you in the world.

      I fully agree on the additional Love Language! The best gift I received was from a dear friend who chose 7 books for me that were near/dear to her or that she had read good things about, and even better, she included inside of the first one a list of all the others she had considered!!!

    • Abra says...

      Liz, Brooke, Jillian – thank you so much!! :)

      CoJ, particularly the comments section, truly is the best corner of the internet.

    • Lindsey says...

      Abra, you sound like an amazing teacher! I will never forget how my fifth grade teacher- who I always thought hated me (and all kids–she really wasn’t the nicest most of the time)- gave all the students books for Christmas. Everyone else got pretty simple chapter books, but she gave *me* Little Women. She told me she knew I was at a higher reading level and she saw the types of things I was borrowing from the library and she thought I would really like it. Rarely since have I felt so seen! I’ll never forget that act of kindness- for that’s what it really was! To this day, that book still holds such a special place in my heart.

    • Amy says...

      Abra, from one reading teacher to another, I love this comment. I’m gearing up to come off of a 5 month maternity leave from my classroom, and this reminder of a teacher’s power (my power) is just what I needed to read right now, as I struggle to move past such a special time at home with my kids. Thank you! Also, I’m so curious about your family traditions and picture book recs!! Wish I could see your lists.

  56. Lindsey says...

    I keep recommending Castle of Water to anyone who asks about a good book. It was the perfect summer read!

    I also just reread The Passage because I realized I haven’t read the final book in the trilogy and it’s been too long for me to remember all the details. It’s even better the second time, and for a 700-page book, that’s saying something!

    • Kim says...

      The Passage trilogy is one of my favorites! Justin Cronin is amazing!

  57. Kathryn Schomburg says...

    This post and all of the comments feel like a hug.

    I’ll add my two cents: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery is my absolute favorite book. It’s translated from French and covers unlikely friendships and love and OMG I’m probably going to start reading it again tonight.

    • Bec Barnett says...

      Yes! This book, so good. Also need to reread.

    • amrita says...

      I Loved this book. There is a passage where the younger girl describes how she felt listening to a choir sing, it makes me cry.

  58. Nina says...

    I’m currently pregnant w/my first child, so related to pregnancy, I’ve read and recommend:
    Nuture – Erica Chidi Cohen
    Like a Mother – Angela Garbes
    The 4th Trimester Companion – Cynthia Gabriel

    Other notable 2018 memoirs/non-fiction reads include:
    The Girl Who Smiled Beads – Clemantine Wamariya
    Heartberries – Terese Marie Mailhot
    Motherhood – Sheila Heti
    You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me – Sherman Alexi
    Educated – Tara Westover

    Fiction –
    The 12 Mile Straight – Eleanor Henderson

  59. Annalise Wagstaff says...

    I am in avid reader. 2 books a week is my goal and thanks to my kindle, I usually achieve it.

    BUT….when I was 17 my Mom handed me, “Crossing to Safety” by Wallace Stegner and said, “I promise you will love it.” Within a few hours, I was done. The very next day I read it again and now I read it every summer. My mom later told me that she was coming from a book club about it when realized she needed to walk to the hospital to give birth to me (hello NYC). I guess it was fate!

    • Gail says...

      I just finished it for the first time and I will read it again soon. I keep thinking about the characters.

    • Katie says...

      Truly truly one of my favorites, man it’s so beautiful. I feel like I need to re read against before this summer is over.

  60. Denise says...

    Picking a favorite is so difficult but my 5-star list on Goodreads includes:

    Mink River by Brian Doyle (actually anything by Brian Doyle)
    Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson
    Borne by Jeff Vandermeer
    Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
    Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun by Sarah Ladipo Manyika
    O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
    State of Wonder by Anne Patchet
    The Hobbit & LOTR by JRR Tolkien (always & forever)

    I love all the book recs in the comments here. You commenting people are awesome

    • Tyreena says...

      Denise, Homegoing I’ve heard is great & I just got it from the library.
      Would love to check put your books on Good reads. Is that possible? 😊

  61. Andrea says...

    Literally scrolling the comments in one tab with my library holds page on another tab & Amazon on a third. Am rarely let down by reader recommendations! My only problem is not having enough hours in a day to read them all as quickly as I want to!

    • Ha! This is exactly me right now!

  62. Em says...

    Reader, I married him. — Shannon

    Brilliant! How lovely and romantic!

  63. Nigerian Girl says...

    I can’t pick a favourite book. But my all-time favourite short story collection is Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. I try to reread it once a year to recapture the magic. Lately I’ve read and loved The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante. It blew my mind. I’m now reading How To Love A Jamaican by Alexia Arthurs; it’s absolutely brilliant and engrossing. Unsurprisingly, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee remains the best book I’ve read this year.

    • Tyreena says...

      Ohhh all these sound good! Off to check them all out on Good Reads 😊

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      @Tyreena Yay! Enjoy.

  64. Jess says...

    I just recently got around to reading “Everything I Never Told You,” by Celeste Ng. It is astounding. Literally months after reading it, I still find myself thinking about the characters all the time, and it does such a heartbreakingly beautiful job of illustrating the different roles and perspectives each member of a family (or any group) has. 1000% recommend.

    • Bryn says...

      Celeste Ng is such a wonderful author! I highly recommend her most recent book “Little Fires Everywhere.”

    • Leah says...

      Love love love Celeste Ng. For me, she’s going to be another Ann Patchett – a “must buy the new hard back as soon as it hits the stores” author.

    • Britt says...

      Love these! Everything I Never Told You is one of the few books that I’ve read multiple times and would still read again. The characters that Celeste Ng writes are exquisitely human.
      Wish that this blog had a book club! :)

    • Elizabeth says...

      I ADORED Little Fires Everywhere and Everything I Never Told You. So good!

  65. Amanda says...

    Fav passage from a book ” Repotting a plant gives it space to grow. Repotting ourselves means taking leave of our everyday Environments and walking into unfamiliar territory – of the heart, of the mind and of the spirit. The older we get the more likely we are to have remained in the same space for some time. We stay because it’s secure. we know the boundaries and, inside of them, we feel safe. Our roots cling to the walls we have known. But remaining inside can keep us from thriving. Indeed, without new experiences or ideas, we slowly grow more and more tightly bound, eventually turning into less vibrant versions of who we might have been.
    Reporting means accepting that the way is forward, not back. It means we won’t again fit into our old shells. But that’s not failure. That’s living. “

    • Amara Bray says...

      Wow this resonates with me! Thank you!

  66. I have a few (I actually just posted about some of my faves). One of my all time favorite books though is “Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons.” It sounds like a fluffy summer read and it is a quick fun read, but it’s so much more. It gives such an interesting look into what it was like being a housewife, mother, worker, woman from the 60 through the 90 and how societal changes effected these women’s lives.

    • Meg says...

      I just finished reading this one a week or two ago — so good!

  67. Erin says...

    Jennifer, I love both of those series as well! A few more you may enjoy (if you haven’t discovered them already): the Alex Morrow series by Denise Mina and the Jackson Brodie series by Kate Atkinson.

    • Sasha L says...

      I ❤️ Jackson Brodie. I’ve read the whole series four times.

  68. Sarah says...

    Beartown by Fredrik Backman is such an excellent, well-written, beautiful book. I also recently enjoyed Tangerine by Christine Mangan. Exotic and creepy – in a good way :)

  69. Kelly says...

    From Cup of Jo suggestions, I read the Elena Ferrante, My Brilliant Friend series. The title says it all – truly brilliant. It’s so well written, complex, and just psychologically observant that it reminded me of Jane Austen. That really seems like an inaccurate description and I couldn’t quite put my finger on why until I read a review that said something to the effect of if you imagine Jane Austen getting angry, this is what you get with Ferrante. Can’t recommend this series enough. The other Cup of Jo/President Obama suggestion ;), was Exit West which was so very beautiful, hard-to-read, hard-to-put-down about a couples decision to leave their war torn country and become refugees in various places. Wow.
    The whole world should really read that one. Elenor Elephant is Completely Fine is also a winner. Right now, I’m reading The Last Kingdom because I got addicted to the show and wanted to read the books. For those who like the show, I do recommend reading as it fills in a lot of back story as well as adding some new and interesting characters not in the show’s story. Thanks Cup of Jo for giving us such a thoughtful, intelligent community to connect and enrich our lives! You are doing good work in this world!

  70. Anna says...

    Just a note… please don’t use the book “Educated” to bash homeschooling or school choice. I was homeschooled my entire life and my education gave me professional, internship, and scholarship opportunities that I would not have had access to otherwise. Homeschooling taught me to not associate education with a dedicated time and place, but helped me love learning and seek education opportunities wherever I am. I’m a better scholar (and a better person) because of my mother’s dedication to my education. Bad situations happen whether you’re in public, private, or home-based schools, and I’d hate to see this book used to discriminate against those who make alternative educational decisions.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh for sure! she actually didn’t get homeschooled in the book — they didn’t do school in any way. there’s no discrimination against homeschooling in the book at all. don’t worry about that. your upbringing sounds wonderful!

    • Julie says...

      it definitely has nothing to do with homeschooling! her family is a survivalist family with little focus on education. I walked away feeling great appreciation for all forms of education!

    • Julie says...

      Probably obvious to someone who loves learning as much as yourself, but I’d strongly recommend you read the book!

  71. Elizabeth says...

    This is nerdy, but in the summers when we’re free from grad classes, my boyfriend and I make literary syllabi for each other and then have a weekly “class” where we alternate teaching the other. During our first year of dating, he taught me about some classic American poets (I remember loving Hart Crane) and I taught him about some of my favorite classic plays (A Doll’s House and Hedda Gabler were both hits) . It was great to be able to ask each other questions we might have been afraid to ask in an actual class, and to learn about the material in such a personal way. Also, we always bought wine and fancy snacks for our “class.” We loved it!

    • that’s the loveliest thing I’ve ever hear <3

  72. Bethany says...

    Life After Life is SO GOOD, oh man!

    • CM says...

      Life After Life stayed with me for so long! I am thinking of re-reading it.

    • Sasha L says...

      All of Kate Atkinson’s books are amazing and stay with you.

  73. ali says...

    Well, now I’m tearing up and ordering “The Year of Magical Thinking”!

    My mom was adopted as a baby and just recently found out (at nearly 60) who her birth parents were. I could write a book on their incredible mysterious love story-its unlike any movie out there! Anyway, her mother had her in a Catholic maternity home for unwed mothers, so I’m reading a book called “The Girls Who Went Away”, which is filled with accounts from young, unwed mothers who were sent away to have their babies in these homes during the 50’s and 60’s. It is heartbreaking, beautiful, painful and I have to pause between each story just to take in the feelings it’s left me with. It’s a way for me to understand what my biological grandmother must have went through at that time.

    • You have to read The Waiting by LaGrow! Your mother’s story sounds amazing. This one is about a similar Catholic home/adoption story. Heart breaking!

      http://thewaitingbook.com

    • ali says...

      Thank you, Reem! Just checked it out, I’m in awe of these women’s strength. I’m sending this to my mother as well :)

      Thank you, COJ for being my refuge, the world is a better place because of this blog!

  74. Amanda says...

    My favorite books are all mysteries. I love being able to escape into a world and try to solve cases along with the sleuths! Anything Gillian Flynn, Tana French, Robert Galbraith, and the Mr. Mercedes series by Stephen King. I’m dipping my toes into King’s other novels now…and I can only read them when I know my husband is in the other room :)

    On another note, one passage that always sticks with me as beautiful and true came from A Series Of Unfortunate Events. My father had just died of cancer, and I was struggling to put into words my feelings. I was re-reading the series, and this caught me: “It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.” I wept. I still cry reading it. It feels so personal and lovely to read something that captures your feelings so accurately.

    Hooray for books!

  75. Whitney says...

    Love this! More book posts please!

    I just finished the Neopolitan series by Elena Ferrante. It blew me away and I can’t stop thinking about it. Such a fascinating look into the inner lives of women and the complexities of friendship. Already started reading it again—I wasn’t ready to be done with Naples, Lina, and Lenu!

    Would make a great Cup of Jo book club pick before the series airs on HBO later this year!

  76. Ana says...

    First, I just want to say I love this blog more than words can express.

    This summer I read Trevor Noah’s autobiography (Born a Crime) which I highly recommend! It’s engaging, funny, and illuminating (after reading the book, I now realize I actually knew very very little about Apartheid)

    I recently finished My Sister’s Grave which I thought was well done! Not my all-time favorite but I am reading the next book in the series so that must say something? Also just started listening to The Last Black Unicorn!

    Does anyone have really good psychological/crime thriller recommendations?

    • Mary Beth says...

      I would recommend Mick Herron’s Slough House series. They are quite wonderful. I read the first book Slough House after buying it for 1.99. I loved it so much I proceeded to purchase the next four books for 9.99 each! Herron knows how to tell a story with gorgeous writing and sometimes hilarious British wit. Jackson Lamb is not a character I will soon forget.

    • Tana French! All her books are amazing.

    • Julie says...

      Do you like true crime? Red Notice by Bill Browder is 100% true and it’s an insane story. Reads like a true crime book!

    • Katie says...

      I listened to Born a Crime, read by Trevor Noah, on Audible and it was so good! Also, I agree about knowing very little about Apartheid. I learned a lot from that book!

    • alice says...

      I would recommend ” bad blood” it’s the first book I’ve read in its entirety since my 2 year old was born. The wall street journal’s investigation into the theranos scandal.

    • Ana says...

      Thank you all!!

    • patricia blaettler says...

      I’ll be Gone in the Dark: The Search for the Golden State Killer.
      True story, very well written. Lock your windows and your doors!

    • Emily says...

      Read I’ll Be Gone in the Dark!

  77. Lisa says...

    On Sunday I finished The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and LOVED it – I’ve read about 10 books in the past 2 months and this one is my new summer recommendation for others.

    My favorite book is probably A Little Life, I read it this year and although sometimes hard to read, I still think about it almost every day – a book has never affected me so much! To me it’s a “winter book” though – def not a book you want to read on the family beach vacation. =/

    • Laura says...

      A LITTLE LIFE!! I totally agree with you about that one.

    • Elliesee says...

      I am reading it right now!

  78. Megan says...

    I just finished reading Shantaram (which seems to be pretty love it or hate it, but I LOVED it), which has me thinking about the transportive power of books. I’m now desperate to plan a trip to India! I’d love to read a post with a list of books that take you away and show you new places…some armchair travel destinations once summer trips wind down and fall brings us back to reality :).

    • Danielle Haskoor says...

      Shantaram is one of my all time favorites. I remember devouring reviews after I finished it years ago and was surprised at their polarizing nature. However, there was a line in one review that I’ve never forgotten that said “If for no other reason, you should read this book in order to meet one of the most endearing characters ever brought to life in a novel–a man by the name of Prabaker.”

      Couldn’t agree more!

  79. Marie says...

    For anyone who has children and sometimes remembers and wonders about your former self, Claire Dederer’s book, “Love and Trouble” is a must read. Its laugh-out-loud funny and painfully sharp.

  80. Sasha L says...

    Anyone else love Quiet? About introverts…. That book really helped me understand myself and how to care for myself.

    • Jo says...

      Yes! Very helpful book!

    • Em says...

      Yes same. Sounds dramatic but as i was reading it everything made sense! I hope everyone reads it and understands.

    • Erika says...

      I read this for a bookclub I’m in, and while I didn’t love the book itself- we had the perfect mix of people: 2 introverts/2 extroverts/2 “ambiverts,” and it was one of the best conversations we’ve had in recent memory. I love it when a book can help us become our best selves.

    • Anna says...

      I loved this book too! I’ve recommended it to so many friends.

  81. Blair says...

    I adore books! Books are an essential part of almost every aspect of my life. While some people have comfort foods, I have comfort books. In times of stress, sadness, or anxiety I turn to one of my comfort books as if to an old friend; always returning to life more loved and a little wiser too. When I was a teenage my favorite comfort book was Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer, as an adult its the Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. Though, Beauty by Robin McKinley and the whole Harry Potter series will never ever stop being my best book friends.

    • Julie says...

      I love this. I have my own comfort books too. And I describe the HP books as one of my longest friends. They’ve been with me through everything…my other comfort books, ones I’ve read almost every year since middle school/high school are: A Painted House by John Grisham, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I learn something new about myself every time I read them.

    • Robin says...

      Yes to beauty! One of my all time favourite comfort books. It was the first book I ever bought for myself, in hardcover. Have you read Tam Lin, by Jane Yolen, or Fire and Hemlock, by Diana Wynne Jones? They’re both excellent fairy tale retellings, and great comfort reads.

    • Julie says...

      I would recommend “I Capture The Castle” as a comfort book. It’s so easy to read and nothing much happens but it’s a nice nothing happening. It’s kind of like a delicious bowl of porridge.

    • Kristie Fields says...

      I love everything that Robin McKinley has written, and the Harry Potter books are some of my favorites, too.

    • Katie says...

      Beauty is one of my faves too!! Although I just picked up Deerskin by Robin McKinley and couldn’t get through it.
      Another comfort series of mine is the Betsy-Tacy series about a pair of friends who grow up in 1900, with their little dramas, dreams, and heartaches. They’re so sweet.

  82. Emma says...

    LOVE THIS! Always obsessively read the comments on book posts here! So many excellent recommendations and kindred book-spirits!

    Just read Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans – see
    @thebookpervert on Instagram for details!

  83. Sophie says...

    I loved The Heart’s Invisible Furies. Also, The Woman in the Window (thriller) and The Leavers (heartbreaking but good).

    Ordering Ru today.

  84. Emma says...

    LOVE THIS! Always obsessively read the comments.

  85. Ivy says...

    Ah, the power of books! For my best guy friend’s birthday gift last year, I got him a “Book of the Month” Club. But, since I’m ever-so cheap, I didn’t actually pay up for the legitimate service. Instead, I reached out to 10 different friends and family members of his and asked them each to pick out a book for him (the first and last books were from me). Then, over the course of the year, I’ve given him a book on the same day each month (15th – his birth day). All of the books have a note in them from who selected it, and the best part is I don’t tell him who they are coming from, so each month is a surprise! Honestly, it was monetarily easy on the pocketbook because I would buy them from Amazon or used bookstores. He has LOVED it and shocker, now we’re dating.

    • Megan says...

      This is the BEST IDEA EVER :)!!

    • Gaby says...

      I LOVE THIS. Both your thoughtful gift and the fact that you’re now dating.

  86. Kate Morton is my favorite! Amazing books!

  87. Julie Grube says...

    Oh my gosh, I love this post! I also am a David Sedaris fan and read Calypso last week, as I was nursing my newborn baby. I laughed out loud so many times, it was such a good postpartum read for me.

    I agree with many of the thoughts highlighted in this post- recalling where I was when reading a favorite book can really transport me back to that time! And reading aloud with ones partner is truly amazing.

  88. Hilary says...

    I just finished “The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley” by Hannah Tinti and loved it; the prose is so, so, so beautiful and the plot is smart and compelling. And I always love books in which the characters are flawed and unpredictable, but still sympathetic, and “Samuel Hawley” has just these kinds of characters.

    My favorite book of all time (if I HAD to choose) is “Peace Like A River” by Leif Eager.

    • Rachel says...

      Yes, yes, yes to The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley. I completely agree—the prose, characters, and plot are so well crafted.

  89. I read “A Place for Us” by Fatima Farheen Mirza last week and it was absolutely the best book I’ve read in years. I couldn’t put it down and the best way to describe it is “devastatingly good.” Highly recommend!

    • Emily says...

      I just finished it too and still miss those characters. They were all so compelling and real. It’s been a long time since I read a book that made me cry–in a good, moving way. The author is such a wonderful writer–it’s hard to believe this is her first book!

    • Jo says...

      I just read A Place For Us too, and couldn’t love it anymore than I do. I sobbed, and that doesn’t happen very often to me.

  90. Julie says...

    One of my favorite passages comes from my favorite book, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale-it’s a gorgeous yet visceral gut punch.

    “Then we had the irises, rising beautiful and cool on their tall stalks, like blown glass, like pastel water momentarily frozen in a splash, light blue, light mauve, and the darker ones, velvet and purple, black cat’s ears in the sun, indigo shadow, and the bleeding hearts, so female in shape it was a surprise they’d not long since been rooted out.”

  91. AnnaVera says...

    Circe by Madeline Miller is hands down the best book I’ve read in a long long time. I read the first few pages in the Look Inside preview- and was hooked. It’s utterly transporting. Anyone who loved Greek myths as a child will cherish this book. I thoroughly recommend it.

    • Allison says...

      I finished it a few months ago, and can’t get it out of my head – it’s the worst book depression I’ve ever been in. How am I supposed to read anything else??? Do you have other recommendations on mythology that you’ve enjoyed?

    • Annavera says...

      I know exactly what you mean! I read and reread D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths as a child, but not much since. I will try her first book,Son of Achilles, butI’m worried it won’t be as good…

    • Allison says...

      I started The Song of Achilles after finishing Circe, and while it wasn’t the same, it still earned a special place in my heart. I started off listening to the audiobook, which was wonderful, and then switched over about halfway through. I hope you enjoy it!

  92. Jessica says...

    My friends and I started a text book club! Each month, we take turns picking a book. It can be read or listened to. Sometimes we text about the book, sometimes we don’t. It’s really about flexibility and about encouraging each other to make time to read.

    Some months we don’t all finish the book, and twice we’ve skipped a month, but overall it motivates us to read things we wouldn’t normally choose, challenge ourselves, and enjoy new books!

  93. Sarah L. says...

    My favorite books of the past 5 years: “All the Light We Cannot See,” by Anthony Doerr; “Canada” by Richard Ford; “Sweettooth” by Ian McEwan; “The Underground Railroad” by Colton Whitehead and almost anything by Philip Roth. I generally read contemporary American/British fiction, though I do dip into memoir at times. “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed is a great read, as well.

    • Brooke Anderson says...

      Seriously, everyone NEEDS to read The Underground Railroad!! Just read it, people. Especially us Americans.

      Follow with the authors Toni Morrison (Beloved and/or A Mercy); Alice Walker (The Color Purple); and Octavia Butler (Kindred).

  94. I love this post! In fact I can relate to the last comment so much that my best friend and I started a podcast about “good terrible books and terrible good books.” We call books like “Heart of Darkness” white whale books — those that you’re always hunting but never manage to harpoon. But for the pod, we read more of the romance-novel types :)

    It’s called That Book and you can find it wherever you get your podcasts, if you’re curious to hear our take on some fun reads!

    • Ooh, I need more book podcasts of people discussing books they’ve read. (I feel like so many book podcasts out there are interviews with the author, which I do enjoy, but my favorite ones are those of people just talking about the story.) Joanna & team, a list of book podcasts would be greatly appreciated by readers, I think! (My recommendation: Overdue Podcast. So good!)

  95. Althea says...

    I recently re-read all of Harry Potter (I read the original ~10 years ago) and it was so, so magical, all over again! In some ways, it was even more magical; there are so many details that foreshadowed the plot. I find returning to all favorites when I’m in a “reading rut” really helps.

    • Libbie says...

      I was growing up as the Harry Potter books were coming out. Each summer, I’d reread the series before the newest book came out, just for a refresher. It is now a summer tradition for me to reread them all again. I have to say they are still as magical as they ever were! <3

    • Amy G says...

      Yes!!!!! I just re-read them as well!!!! This time I re-read with a focus on watching Ron and Hermoine’s relationship and Harry and Ginny’s relationship grow.

  96. Hannah G. says...

    On reading poetry: my parents gifted my daughter a collection of AA Milne poems, “Changing Guard at Buckingham Palace.,” for her first Christmas (she was 6 weeks old). It is almost two years later our most beloved book as a family. She asks for “poh-em” every night before bed. Poetry may seem odd as a first pick to start reading to your newborn, but I can tell you it was so easy and soothing in those hazy days to read children’s poetry allowed. It takes very little thinking and no special character voices 😉 Another favorite is, “You’ll be Good, I’ll be Night,” a collection of fun nonsense poems.

    • sasha L says...

      I love You’ll be good……. It’s just such a charming book.

    • Mary Beth says...

      I am almost 70 years old and I still remember Disobedience. The opening line James, James Morrison Morrison… as a young child, I loved the idea that James was ordering his mother to never go ‘down to town without me’. I still own the A A Milne books from my childhood!

    • Hannah G says...

      Mary Beth, I love that! My Grammy still has all of her copies as well, she’s 78 this year 😊

    • Chiara says...

      I’ve got a couple of Dennis Lee illustrated compilations and my son picks a few poems every night to read after our story. I love it so much, especially since I’ve never been really good about reading poetry. It’s so fun just to play with language and hear myself read them out loud.

  97. Sunflower says...

    I love reading and am so thrilled to share the amazing world of words with my future lil’ one due in a few months. There is a certain vibrancy to literature and poetry; it brings meaning to those emotions I haven’t quite figured out how to articulate otherwise.

    Question though! I hope to read to my child from day one. When they’re a tiny newborn, what do you read aloud? Can you simply read your own books knowing that just hearing your voice narrate is enough? I feel sorta silly reading “The Hungry Caterpillar” countless times when they likely wouldn’t know the difference between that and whatever is on my nightstand. When do you “graduate” to board books or the oh-so-lovely children’s classics?

    • Em says...

      Congratulations! When I was pregnant this time last year with my first, my husb. would read baseball encyclopedia entries (!) to the bump and me (this would inevitably excite the baby and put me to sleep). Now that we have sweet Anne, we’ve read so many board books since day 1. Especially during the day. But my favorite moment is each night after “Goodnight Moon” (that book is seriously baby magic) when my husb. reads to her from Kipling’s Just So Stories while I nurse and she drifts off to sleep. I guess my answer is, Any and all, any time. Read, read, read, read!

    • Wendy says...

      A family friend who is a nurse said in the NICU they recommend rhyming verse for newborns. I read a good deal of Shel Silverstein to my daughter before graduating to board books more often.

    • Jill says...

      The first book I remember reading to my son when he was tiny was The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson. I never got tired of the rhyming story, and the rhythm seemed to hold his attention. I can still recite most of it without looking! He’s just turned 11 now and is a huge reader :)

    • Kelly O says...

      You can read anything! I have an almost-9 month old and started him out on a Teddy Roosevelt biography that I was reading, then moved on to novels that I loved as a child – like Stuart Little and A Wrinkle in Time. At that stage, they really just like hearing the rhythm and sound of your voice – and will sweetly curl up on you and fall asleep (it’s the best). Not to mention it creates a lovely routine in their world, helps to build their language skills and will (hopefully) ignite a lifelong love of books! Once they’re out of the new-newborn phase and start to grab and eat them – it’s all about the board books! And right now we’re in a too-wiggly-for-longer-stories and too-much-teething-for-delicate-pages phase, but sometimes I get a sweet collection of moments where he slows down enough to pay attention to something more storybook length before bed. Have fun with it and see what works for you guys!

    • Morgan says...

      Great question! I am a speech-language pathologist and a really famous study by Hart and Risley (1995) states that it is the quantity of words heard over quality to develop vocabulary skills in children. Read what you enjoy to start, you will have years with board books. The more words heard, the better. Part of the magic of reading literature aloud is that the grammar in the written word so easily surpasses conversational speech and is therefore a gateway to learning more complex language. A great book I read this summer is The Read Aloud Family and it discusses the strength of read alouds for children (and adults) of all ages. There are also sections of book recs by age group.

    • Christina says...

      There’s a great article from the NYTimes “How to Raise a Reader” https://www.nytimes.com/guides/books/how-to-raise-a-reader
      According to the article, “You can read anything to a newborn: a cookbook, a dystopian novel, a parenting manual. The content doesn’t matter. What does matter is the sound of your voice, the cadence of the text and the words themselves. Research has shown that the number of words an infant is exposed to has a direct impact on language development and literacy. But here’s the catch: The language has to be live, in person and directed at the child. Turning on a television, or even an audiobook, doesn’t count. Sure, it’s good to get started reading aloud the children’s books that will be part of your child’s library. But don’t feel limited. Just be sure to enjoy yourself.”

  98. Lauren says...

    I just finished Ottessa Moshfegh’s book My Year of Rest and Relaxation, and while I was already a fan of hers, I can’t stop recommending it to friends. Such an endearing and sympathetic anti-hero of a main character and an overall thought-provoking take on mental health.

  99. Jess. says...

    Oh, my goodness. Jenna’s comment. Yrsa Daley-Ward is spectacular. I seriously contemplate going back to school so I can get a degree in education and teach her work. I follow her and Nayyirah Waheed on Instagram, and they blow my mind.

  100. Amy says...

    I stopped reading poetry when I left school. I had hated taking something so nebulous and trying to make sense of it. Now that I’m older that’s exactly what I love about it. Of course we can analyse poems to death if we choose, but speaking them aloud, letting the sounds of each syllable that was agonised over by the poet trickle (or bellow) out of my mouth is a great joy. I may not get it on an intellectual level but somewhere in my mind there’s a me that it all makes sense to. And she feels calm and soothed and knows that everything was, is and will be fine.

  101. Danielle says...

    Similar to the White Elephant idea above (which I love), I gave each of my bridesmaids last year a book that reminded me of them<3

    The best book I've read in the past couple of years is The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng. Nothing else really comes close, but I've also enjoyed Beartown, Eleanor Oliphant, Lilac Girls, A Gentleman in Moscow….

    As always, my favorite type of post/comments on CoJ!

  102. Love talking about books, could do it forever!
    I’m currently reading some mysteries, The Killing Habit by Mark Billingham and the newest Peter May novel.

    I still wish that CoJ would link to book vendors other than Amazon from time to time. CoJ has such a huge reach, think how amazing it would be to send business to some independent bookstores!
    Powells.com for example, or any of the Indiebound.org shops.

    • Eloise says...

      I’ve seen CoJ link to Books are Magic, in Brooklyn, on occasion. (I think.)

    • hear hear! I am forever trying to support local and small booksellers — not enough of them left. breaks my book reading heart!

    • lesley says...

      they do link to books are magic regularly. they also link to powells in this post.

    • AMB says...

      Agreed, Rachel! It would be so wonderful to draw attention to some independent booksellers! CoJ has such a large influence–products featured on this blog sell out in hours–that even an occasional post that links to not-Amazon booksellers would greatly increase their visibility and sales! (Something Amazon is definitely not missing out on).

  103. Becky says...

    My favorite book is the The Brain that Changes Itself. It’s about the wonders of neuriplasticity and the amazing challenges your brain can rise above, with real case studies to drive the point home.
    I cant remember a time in my life when I wasnt reading. Even in college during finals week I would always find time to read. I’m in restless period where I cant find anything good to read but I feel the universe is telling me to pick up a David Sedaris book. So I will!

    • Amy says...

      That book helped me recover from a breakdown in my early 20s. Noone had ever told me before that I could help my brain get better through hard work and paying attention. It transformed my life and most importantly have mehoe that has stuck with me through the mental health trials I’ve had since. A great follow up is The mind and the brain by Sharon Begley and Jeffrey Schwartz .

  104. Sarah says...

    New favorite is “The Suicide Club” by Rachel Heng. It’s her first book and is vaguely sci-fi, but mostly just beautiful and moving. The story is about life, loss, and what it would mean if we could live forever. Highly recommend.

  105. Cynthia says...

    What a snobby cashier!!

  106. I vote for a Cup of Jo book club! It would be so fun to read alongside this amazing community and discuss in the comments! :)

    • Misha says...

      I LOVE this idea. This community is so incredibly smart I would probably grow just by osmosis. : )

    • Jena says...

      I would be so thrilled to be part of this!! Please, let’s do it!

  107. SV says...

    Best books I have read recently:

    Barkskins, by Annie Proulx: an epic about the forest industry, the natural world, and human impact on indigenous peoples and the environment told through one family’s history. AH-mazing.

    The Mars Room, by Rachel Kushner: a really well written, spare but engaging book about incarceration in CA women’s prison.

    Paul Takes the Form of a Real Girl, by Andrea Lawlor: This book is funny, weird, queer, and different from anything else I have read. Like Ovid’s Metamorphoses or a similar fairytale vibe but set in 1990s SF and elsewhere.

    Speak No Evil, by Uzodinma Iweala: A Heartbreaking, tender, and beautiful book about a young man coming to terms with his sexuality against the backdrop of high school, suburbs, and parental friction.

  108. Cooper says...

    The book passage that continues to stick with me is from My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout:

    “Do I understand the hurt my children feel? I think I do, though they might claim otherwise. But I think I know so well the pain we children clutch to our chests, how it lasts our whole lifetime, with longings so large you can’t even weep. We hold it tight, we do, with each seizure of the beating heart: This is mine, this is mine, this is mine.”

    I read Strout’s companion book this summer, Anything is Possible – also amazing!

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      I know, right? Two amazing books. Strout is one of my favourite authors. Try reading Olive Kitteridge if you haven’t already. It’s phenomenal.

  109. Kate says...

    There’s a new Patrick DeWitt book and also a new Kate Atkinson one coming out this year, and I can’t wait! So far this year my favorites have been American Street by Ibi Zoboi, The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani, No Way Home: A Memoir of Life On The Run by Tyler Wetherall, Circe by Madeline Miller, and The Power by Naomi Alderman. Very happy that my favorites all happen to be by women this year – that wasn’t on purpose when 2018 started but as we’ve gone on this year, now it kind of it :)

    • Sasha L says...

      New Kate Atkinson!! Oh goody.

  110. Whitney says...

    I just finished the Neopolitan novels by Elena Ferrante and was blown away. As in, I started them over immediately because I cannot stop thinking about Lina, Lenu, and the way Ferrante writes about the complexities of being a woman. And bonus: they were total page-turners in my experience!

    A Cup of Jo book club on them would be fun and interesting. Especially before the series begins on HBO later this year.

    • MB says...

      I loved these books so much. I had such strong feelings towards the characters. I loved them, then hated them and then loved them all over. In a way, it reflects very much how I grew out (and sometimes back into) my own childhood friendships–despite profoundly caring about those people. And the final book(!!)….my heart hurt.

    • Laura says...

      I’m glad you mentioned these! I read the first two and felt like I needed a break. Now that it’s been a while, I’m going to go back and pick up the third! I did not realize HBO was creating a series based on them…interesting…

    • Whitney says...

      The first one was the slowest, in my opinion. Once you get past the character/neighborhood intros it really picks up.

      And reading that interview now, thanks for sharing!

  111. Chiara says...

    I love a good book and am guilty of stocking my shelves with books I don’t usually have the energy to read. Especially since becoming a parent, I find romance novels to be the way I can unwind with a book that doesn’t take too much mental energy. BUT I’m pregnant with my third baby right now and I don’t know what it is, but suddenly I am devouring books that would normally languish on the shelf. Two book recommendations from the past few years are
    1) “The Memory Palace” by Mira Bartok
    2) “Prodigal Summer” by Barbara Kingsolver

  112. Kara says...

    I was an education and English major in college so I am a huge advocate of reading to babies and toddlers! My oldest daughter is an amazing reader and I credit reading to her every night since she was a baby.
    Also, when I am looking for something new to read, I go to the website of my alma mater and see which ones my former professors are using for their classes!

  113. Rachel says...

    I have a specific question about reading around babies that I am hoping someone can answer. I once read that the single best thing you can do ensure you raise a reader is read yourself. I imagine watching my parents read and going to the library to pick out books with them and totally agree. I started using a kindle years ago but since having my son I have been questioning that decision. Will he see me reading or will he see me looking at a screen? Do I need to ditch the kindle?

    • I read a lot from my Kindle app on my phone, and if my kids (6 & 3.5) see me with it, I make sure to tell them I’m reading a book and what it’s about (in language they can understand). I also go to the library with them, read books to them, and get real books from the library and read them, too.

    • Natalie says...

      It sounds like what you read referenced what is called “book experiences”. In my research on literature and language development, I learned a child should have 5000 book experiences (about 3/day) by age 5 to be prepared for kindergarten. These can include reading a book, looking at a book, seeing someone (you) reading, etc, not just being read aloud to. If you are worried about him seeing you on a screen, explain to him that your kindle is like a bookshelf, it has all of your books on it and you can pick one and read it right there :)

  114. SKB says...

    Tommy Shelby reading poetry…. SWOON!

  115. katie says...

    I absolutely loved The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. I’d say it was one of the better books I devoured in the last 5 years. If you like Kate Morton, you might want to give Louise Penny a try, although I highly recommend reading them in sequence. I adore the fictional town she created.

    • Hannah G says...

      I love Louise Penny! Her books make me feel like I’m wrapped up in a cozy blanket and surrounded by people who understand me.

  116. Nicola says...

    I have been recommending ‘Elinor Oliphant is completely fine’ by Gail Honeyman to anyone who will listen. The best book I have read in quite a few years, and her first one! Very like the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry book by Rachel Joyce, also so good. Elinor will stay with me forever though.
    Love anything by Maggie O Farrell, especially Vanishing Act of Esmee Lennox and The Hand that First Held Mine.
    I LOVE to read, I use the library and always have a stack by the bed. I grew up on Marian Keyes (she is a hero of mine) and remember vividly almost wetting myself with laughter when I first read Bridget Jones by Helen Fielding.
    I can’t wait to work through some of the books mentioned!

    • Brooke says...

      Just finished I am, I am, I am by Maggie O’Farrell and LOVED it. Must read her other works too!

    • Lynn says...

      I loved Eleanor! I just put Unlikely Pilgrimage on hold based on your rec!

  117. Meg says...

    I just started The Heart’s Invisible Furies this week, so I’m excited to see you recommending it! I had a stressful week and needed some alone time so last night I went out to an Indian restaurant by myself and sat and read it and ate chicken Vindaloo really slowly. It was great!

    • Nancey says...

      I love this!

  118. Jennifer says...

    I love these posts! I agree with the other comments about having so many favorites it is hard to choose – but one of my all-time favorites is Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. So, so good. In the past year I have also begun reading murder mysteries, which I had never really done before, and I have really enjoyed them! They are typically written as a series, and the continuity of characters and stories is fun. Two favorites have been the Bruno, Chief of Police series by Martin Walker and the Dublin Murder Squad series by Tana French.

  119. Alice says...

    Similar to Shannon above, I used to give all of my boyfriends a copy of my favorite book The Unbearable Lightness of Being as a gift early on in the relationship. I think I gave out four copies of this book. My now-husband is the only one who actually read it!

    Exchanging books is now an important part of our gift-giving. Occasionally, we’ll pick a book together and trade off reading chapters and jotting marginalia for the other to read. I’m now pregnant with our first child and hope to continue this tradition with our son.

  120. Una says...

    Here is a BIG vote to make books a more regular feature on COJ!

    As for my own recommendation, I finally have a “favorite” book (isn’t that such a difficult question to answer??) : Brother of the More Famous Jack by Barbara Trapido. So quick – both in it’s wit and the tiny stabs to the heart. Also unapologetically British in the best way possible. The first time I read it I finished the last page and then restarted the first!

    • Brooke Anderson says...

      Just ordered a used copy of this based on your glowing review :)

  121. Yes to alllll the book posts!

    I will always and forever recommend Tana French to anyone who hasn’t read her yet — my favorite writer on earth. She’s coming out with a new book this year and I CAN’T WAIT. Not just for mystery lovers, either — I’m not particularly a mystery lover but I love her stuff. It’s so much more about the characters than anything else.

    The two you recommended are both now on my list.

    The best book I’ve read so far this year is The Song of Achilles, and I can’t wait to read her next book Circe, out earlier this year.

    Other than that, I’ve been reading a lot of old faves — something about being pregnant is making me want to return to things I love. That includes Laini Taylor, Leigh Bardugo, Maggie Steifvater, and Patrick Ness for amazing fantasy series, E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars, and of course, The Book Thief.

    Also — I’m in the process of making a baby registry and so far it consists almost exclusively of books :D But I’m open to any more children’s book recommendations!

    • Ali says...

      Tana French is great, I’ve read them all and have put a hold on her new book at the library, so hopefully I’ll be the first to get it! I liked Circe too. I haven’t read The Song of Achilles though, so I’ll add that to my library list.

    • Chiara says...

      A couple of books with female characters doing normal things I’ve enjoyed for young children (I don’t know all the authors off hand)
      Red is Best
      Zoe’s Year (this one might be out of print, but is so sweet and simple with really lovely plasticine illustrations. I like books with short sentences for babies because you can actually get through a whole book)
      Miss Rumphius
      Lots of Robert Munsch books have female protagonists and they are soo funny.

      I know you didn’t ask for female protagonists specifically, but this is a criteria I think about a lot with children’s books.

    • Circe has become a favorite book. Easily the best I’ve read in the last five years. I leave it on my nightstand so I can re-read marked passages regularly!

    • ANDREA says...

      Meh, also an English major. You don’t have to be mean to clerks to show your reading cred.

  122. Heidi says...

    I absolutely love the White Elephant book exchange idea! Going to use that idea this upcoming holiday season!

  123. Alyssa says...

    A friend on Facebook recently told me that if you have a library card, you can download the Overdrive app, sign in with your library card and check out audiobooks for free! I’ve been listening to Amy Poehler’s Yes Please on my drive to work each morning and love it!

    • Chiara says...

      My library has another service called hoopla where you can do the same thing and you don’t have to wait on hold for books. The selection is usually different, so I always check both when I’m looking for a specific book.

  124. Andrea says...

    I’m always on the lookout for books to read. I’ve gone to stalking book shop lists from Ireland and Australia.

  125. Claire says...

    I love this! Books connect so many people… My now-fiancé on our first real date gave me a copy of The Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring because although I love the movies, I never read the series. In the book he wrote, “‘All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost’. Let’s start this adventure!” I fell in love on that first date.

  126. Jocelyn says...

    Currently reading Manhattan Beach and loving it!

  127. Sasha L says...

    Does anyone else keep a Pinterest board of all the books they’ve read? I’ve been doing so for a long time and it’s handy for when I can’t remember a title and I also scroll through just to feel accomplished and happy. I love some of those books so much, just seeing them on my board makes me smile. Seeing a bunch of books that I read at a particular time also helps me remember the past. Easy to come up with a fast recommendation too, or find a particular author that I want to read more of.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s such a great idea!!

    • I use Goodreads to keep track of my books, but this sounds like a good idea, too!

    • Em says...

      Try using Goodreads! You can post reviews of them as you read too, see what others have said, and find book recommendations. It’s one of the few forms of social media I use :)

    • That’s a great idea! Also, I would highly recommend using Goodreads if you don’t already. It’s a great way to keep track of books you’ve read and books you want to read.

    • Isabella says...

      Same! I do this on my public library’s website. You can save books in lists – ‘For Later’ “In Progress” or “Completed.”

    • Brooke says...

      This year I moved all my book lists to a spreadsheet using Google Sheets.
      I customized a template they had and I LOVE IT. I have different sheets for “Books to Read” and a sheet for each year. On my yearly sheet I have columns for the author, title, status (Not Started, Done, In Progress), and analysis (where I give a mini review of my response to the book). This is great because I use the Sheets iPhone app and get the biggest thrill updating it whenever I finish another book.

      Here’s a pic of my 2018 spreadsheet: https://imgur.com/a/AKS2yk6
      Here’s how I keep track of what I still want to read (currently have 90 listed!): https://imgur.com/a/Hw9dFeF

    • Em says...

      Maybe Cup Of Jo could have a Goodreads page?
      Would be cool to all share on there.
      There are so many great comments on here.

    • Leah says...

      I do! I have a love reading board for each year – 2016, 2017 and 2018. That way when I’m requesting books from the library, I can look back and make sure I haven’t read it. I also have a board for book recommendations, book reviews, book lists, etc. for when I need inspiration.

  128. Katie says...

    My darling husband has been reading A Wrinkle In Time aloud to me for the past few weeks. I’m nine weeks pregnant and there’s nothing that makes me feel better than listening to him every night. I don’t last beyond a couple pages (the first trimester exhaustion is no joke), but feeling that our little one and I are so cared for is the perfect way to end the day.

  129. Zoe says...

    Currently loving and slowly drawing out every moment of All the Light We Cannot See. It’s so beautiful that I am loving taking my time. I missed it when it first came out but luckily scored a copy at the thrift store.

    I also just bought We are in a Book for my 2.5 yo niece. Can’t wait until she gets it in the mail! Thanks for the recommendation, K!

  130. Sasha L says...

    I’m reading King of the World, a Father’s day gift recommendation here from Alex. Wow, it’s a fantastic read. Not a boxing fan (it’s a bio of Mohammed Ali) but it’s about so much more than that, race, racism, the mob, Nation of Islam…… Man, I am hooked.

    I love COJ for so many reasons, and book recommendations from the team and readers is right at the top of my list. Love all the cool discussion about books in general too. Books are one of the best things in life.

  131. I just finished In the Distance by Hernan Diaz. It’s absolutely captivating; I experienced every emotion. (I wish I was still in it.)

  132. On J. Marie’s comment — I was once flying home for the weekend, I think I was about 23, and had been flipping through fashion magazines on the flight. When we landed and were lined up in the aisle waiting to deplane, a middle aged man made a snarky comment about me reading something he deemed frivolous. I sputtered something about having majored in English, and my stressful job and some other defenses of taking a couple of hours to read a magazine, but you know what…I am still angry about it more than ten years later. I actually think of it more often than I care to admit. If I could go back in time I would turn to him, look him in the eye, and say “IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS WHAT I READ.” Because it isn’t, and we shouldn’t have to defend ourselves to strangers. I guarantee if I had been a man reading something equally frivolous he wouldn’t have said a thing.

  133. Carly says...

    Liv’s comment quoting “Ru” made me well up, and buy the book. I can’t wait to get home and smell my daughter’s little head. All the feels.

  134. Claire says...

    “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.”

    Basically tripped over myself rushing to YouTube to watch this,

    • Verona says...

      Lol, me too!!!

    • Jennifer Wilson says...

      Same! :)

  135. Lisa says...

    I just got my kids library cards (they’re 2.5 and 8 months). The librarian was so amazing about it and the toddler LOVES going to the library to take books out (but we haven’t gotten to the stage where we have to return them yet. I’m intrigued to see how that turns out).

    One of my favourite quotes is from “The Chosen” by Chaim Potok. I read it over twenty years ago and it still stays with me
    “Human beings do not live forever, Reuven. We live less than the time it takes to blink an eye, if we measure our lives against eternity. So it may be asked what value is there to a human life. There is so much pain in the world. What does it mean to have to suffer so much if our lives are nothing more than the blink of an eye?

    I learned a long time ago, Reuven, that a blink of an eye in itself is nothing. But the eye that blinks, that is something. A span of life is nothing. But the man who lives that span, he is something. He can fill that tiny span with meaning, so its quality is immeasurable though its quantity may be insignificant. Do you understand what I am saying? A man must fill his life with meaning, meaning is not automatically given to life.

    It is hard work to fill one’s life with meaning. That I do not think you understand yet. A life filled with meaning is worthy of rest. I want to be worthy of rest when I am no longer here.”

    • Amanda says...

      Wow, what a powerful passage!

  136. Rachel says...

    I just re-read the Anne of Green Gables series this summer because I start my master’s program in the fall and I wanted to do everything that I wouldn’t have time for once I start. I’ve read it at least three times since I was in junior high and it’s what I come back to every time that I need something that is just a happy ending without huge Tragedy.

    • I am listening to the audio book on Audible read by Rachel McAdams! It is lovely.

  137. Meredith says...

    Currently reading “A Little Life” (while I pump at work every day) and “The Heart’s Invisible Furies” (the rest of the time)—both Cup of Jo book recs! “A Little Life” is destroying me in the best way; it’s challenging material but so well written. When I need something new I scroll through the comments sections of old posts and look for someone recommending a book I already love; I immediately request any others they list from the library. It hasn’t let me down yet! Love your book posts!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s a great way to find a book! i agree that people generally have specific book tastes — with some of my friends, we don’t agree on any books; with other friends, we love all the same ones. so interesting!

    • Keryn says...

      I’m also reading A Little Life after a recommendation from this blog! I cannot put it down although it’s so heartbreaking at times. Such an amazing book.

    • Kirstin says...

      I have been scrolling through this list looking for someone who is reading ‘A Little lIfe’… it’s killing me – my heart is breaking but I don’t know if it is despair or with growing love and kindness… ah what a perfect piece of everything in 720 abslutely perfect pages. Life is a mess!

  138. Loved the comment about poems.

  139. Samantha says...

    Any time I am looking for a new book to read, I come to Cup of Jo and find something, and I always (ALWAYS) end up loving it. I will periodically go through the comments of different posts and add a bunch to my Kindle wishlist so I have a bunch of suggestions stocked up :) Thank you all fellow smart readers for the endless amazing recommendations!

  140. Meg says...

    “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.” …so beautiful. Mama super powers.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      heartbreaking and beautiful.

    • Laura says...

      Hi sorry I can’t find the comment you refer to – what is the book called please? Thank you!

  141. Carol Hinz says...

    I just read and loved CONVENIENCE STORE WOMAN by Sayaka Murata. It’s brief and completely absorbing!

    • Nancey says...

      Heard such good things about that, it’s on my list.. along with a million other things..

  142. Barbara says...

    A Gentleman in Moscow is the best book and I can’t believe it wasn’t mentioned above.

    • Alexandra says...

      I LOVE this book!

    • Barbara says...

      Agreed! Also, my name is Barbara too so I wish I could love your comment. What a fantastic book!

    • laura says...

      Ah I can’t say I loved this book! It did have its small, intimate moments which made it all worth the read, but I can’t say I liked the novel collectively. Would love to read differing opinions about about why other people liked it.

  143. Sara says...

    A couple of favorites:
    I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
    Okay for Now, by Gary Schmidt

    Also, I’m a speech-language pathologist and I can’t tell you how important it is to read with babies and kids! You don’t have to read every word or even finish the book, just look at the pictures together, talk about them, ask and answer questions, and read the same books over and over. I always give a few board books as baby gifts and they’re so appreciated!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that, sara, thank you! i find it so sweet hear what kids are thinking about books — sometimes it’s so different from what is actually happening or what you’re thinking. once, we were reading a book about an elephant zooming down a steep hill on a bike, and he covered his eyes. i said to toby, “why is he covering his eyes?” and toby said, “he wants privacy.” so, so cute. and helpful to talk about!

    • Una says...

      I Capture the Castle stole my heart a long time ago, and it is as delightful with the 10th reading as with the first!

    • Chiara says...

      I Capture the Castle!! I read that a bunch of times when I was a teenager and loved it then haven’t thought about it since. Thanks for the reminder, I think I’ll take it out of the library. The character inspired a lot of my journaling habits. I even tried to learn short hand for a bit, but never persisted enough to succeed.

  144. Rosalie says...

    I really loved Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratcett. My cousin Nebi lent it to me while we were on a road trip 20 years ago and I can still remember laughing out loud while reading it. Right now I’m all about Kate Morton. I just finished The Forgotten Garden and The Distant Hours and loved them both.

    • Kristin says...

      Yes. Good Omens and then Pratchett’s books. I read my daughter’s copies, and it is so hard not to underline parts of them. Pratchett’s social commentary is spot on, and it is often hard for me to believe that he isn’t still alive and writing what I am reading about what is happening in our country today.

  145. Nancey says...

    Favorite book? That’s like asking which is your favorite child. I have favorite books A MONTH. Top five of all time?
    1. A Prayer For Owen Meany- John Irving
    2. Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott
    3. Kate Christensen, yup, every single solitary one.
    4. Summers With Juliet – Bill Roorbach
    5. Everything Here is Beautiful – Mira T. Lee
    6. Tiny Beautiful Things – Cheryl Strayed
    I couldn’t stop at 5.

    I read #5 this year and it blew me away, The Animators was wonderful as well -that was recent, and Abandon Me by Melissa Febos took my heart and held it for awhile and only gave me back a piece of it. Halsey Street is another current favorite.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      these all sound so good!

    • Eloise says...

      Bird by Bird is THE BEST. I re-read it often. It’s in my Top Five, along with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (the first “grown-up” book I ever read); Dear Mr. You, by Mary Louise Parker (surprised me; it’s now my “go to gift” book); Independence Day by Richard Ford; Never Let me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and (I also can’t stop at 5); A Little Life (which is super heavy and not everyone’s cup of tea) and; almost anything by Pat Conroy, but I recommend starting with Prince of Tides. Can’t wait to puruse the comments for more recommendations later.

    • Samantha says...

      A Prayer For Owen Meany is probably my all time favorite as well!

    • Nancey says...

      Oh my Goodness! Independence Day by Richard Ford!!! I am adding that to my list, I cherished that book. I wish they hadn’t made a movie with Will Smith named the same thing because they are so not the same thing.

    • Eloise says...

      Nancy, Did you read The Sportswriter (the precursor to Independence Day) and Lay of the Land (no where near as good but still satisfying)? I couldn’t get through “Let me be Frank with You, though, which made me sad. You may also like Rabbit Run (and the sequels) by John Updike. I should have put it on my list.

    • Nancey says...

      Eloise, yes I loved, loved, loved The Sportswriter! Lay Of The Land, let’s put it this way…. I finished it, nuff said. Let Me Be Frank With you did NOTHING for me! we are book twins. I will try Rabbit Run, I thought you were going to recommend Rabbit Cake by Anne Hartnett which was BEYOND good.

    • Eloise says...

      I’ll check out Rabbit Cake. Thanks!

    • Jo says...

      A Prayer For Owen Meany is one of the most outstandingly well-written books I’ve ever read. I love it with my whole heart.

  146. Caitlin says...

    I started A Little Life off the recommendations here and I bolted from that book halfway through and will never look back—I didn’t see any kind of redemption within the emotional, physical, and sexual torture of the book’s characters.

    A book that I recommend over and over again is The Flamethrowers—it’s a weird, intimate portrait of identity and love tied to the 1970s art scene. I loved it. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Little Failure had me oscillating between heaving sighs and gut-busting laughs. It’s another read that I feel never got enough love!

    • Eloise says...

      I loved “A Little Life.” Hard to read, but stayed with me. I tried “The Flamethrowers” but didn’t get very far. I’ll give “Little Failure” a shot.

    • Caroline says...

      I read A Little Life and wished I hadn’t! One of my friends who was going through a tough time was about to start it and I strongly recommended that she NOT read it. It’s so tough and I felt if you were already feeling low then it would not help.

    • kirstin says...

      I am 3/4 of the way through A Little lIfe, and whilst it tears me apart I also feel like my heart grows bigger through the experience. However weirdly enough, last week I walked out of the theatre toilet cubicle with it in my hand and was instantly grabbed by another woman – we spent the next 30 minutes discussing this book – she’s a wonderful Director and so I left with her personal email address. Then yesterday in a cafe the waitress came up and interrupted my meeting, and said “How are you? You’re reading that?(pointing the A Little Life) – Are you ok? ” – it was the most beautiful interaction between two strangers. She really was concerned that the book has the potential to break you up, but also, well it’s the deepest and most touching study of us humans. My meeting was with a different theatre Director, and he was amazed that this single book could have had such an effect (I’d just been discussing the encounter with the famous director). The waitress gave me her name and told me to come back and see her when I finished. BOOKS are the world… I would never consider getting Netflix.

  147. Sarah says...

    Love this! I’m about halfway through Exit West, based on Joanna’s recommendation. I’m really enjoying it – such an interesting premise! When I finish that, I have Crazy Rich Asians on deck on my kindle, after a verrry long wait for the library ebook to come to me. This summer I’ve been reading a lot of YA and British chick lit (also borrowed via library ebooks) because it is engaging and doesn’t require too much of an attention span, which is perfect for this busy summer. I do most of my reading on the metro and at the gym. What I wouldn’t give for a few days at the beach with a good book!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “What I wouldn’t give for a few days at the beach with a good book!” = yes x a million

    • Betsy says...

      I bought the book Crazy Rich Asians at a library’s used book sale last year.

  148. Julie says...

    I am obsessed with reading, I heart the Cup of Jo book posts. So yes, for Cup of Jo posts about books, I go bananas!!!

    • Carrie says...

      SAME. These posts always send me to Amazon, scouring all the books mentioned. Cup of Jo readers have such good taste!

    • Yes! Can we request a monthly books post? Maybe a simple format with a) what we’re reading, b) what we loved, c) what we didn’t like so much, d) what we want to read next? It could also be cool to have a if you like ___, you might like ___.

    • Laura says...

      I’d like to put in another vote for more frequent book posts. I like Claire’s idea of a monthly book-related post (maybe even a bi-weekly one?). Is a Cup of Jo book club an option? We could read a book a month, with a post at the beginning to announce the pick and one at the end to discuss it. It would be fun if each of the CoJ team members shared their thoughts, and then the discussion could continue in the comments. I would totally participate!