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6 Books We’re Reading This Spring

Normal People by Sally Rooney

And now, for one of our favorite topics: books. What are you reading these days? There is no shortage of amazing books right now and we are here for it. Both fiction and nonfiction, from hilarious to poignant, here’s what we’re reading right now…

Spring Books 2019

Caroline:

Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl
Confession: I don’t care about food. Don’t get me wrong — I eat food, I make food. Sometimes, I’ll get unnaturally excited about a bucatini cacio e pepe. But I am not one of those people for whom reading about flavors and textures and ingredients holds any weight. That’s how good Ruth Reichl is: she’s a writer, who just so happens to focus on food. And anything she writes, I will read. Reichl’s latest memoir chronicles her time as the editor-in-chief of Gourmet, and covers everything from wavering over accepting the job to not knowing how a magazine works to worrying how to be a boss to the very real guilt of balancing career and parenthood. She approaches every subject in her frank, friend-who-tells-the-best-stories-and-keeps-no-secrets way. The result is compulsively readable, much like — sorry, can’t help myself — a dish you want to gobble up.

Southern Lady Code by Helen Ellis
At first, I did not want to read Southern Lady Code. The cover was cute. It came recommended by people I trust. But I am not a Southern lady, and I feared the humor would be lost on me. I could not have been more wrong. Southern Lady code is “the technique by which, if you don’t have something nice to say, you say something not-so-nice in a nice way.” This essay collection had me howling — truly howling — with laughter. One evening while reading, my boyfriend put the newspaper down to say, “WHAT are you laughing at?” which prompted me to read an entire chapter aloud. Ellis describes everything, from puzzles to airplane etiquette to riding the subway with a panty liner stuck to her back, in a way that is very, very funny. Run, don’t walk.

Spring Books 2019

Joanna:

The Farm by Joanne Ramos
Full disclosure: I just started The Farm last night, but you know those books that immediately draw you in and suddenly you can’t think of anything else? Joanne Ramos, formerly a staffer at the Economist, wrote this debut novel — a cracking, chilling but also human page-turner about Jane, a Filipino immigrant, who goes to “The Farm,” a retreat where for nine months, you get organic meals, daily massages and big money. The catch? You can’t leave the grounds, you’re constantly monitored and you’re cut off from your regular life, while you focus on producing the perfect baby — for someone else. If you liked The Handmaid’s Tale, I think you’ll love this book. Can’t wait to read it in bed tonight.

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
A few weeks ago, when I wrote about my newly discovered love of short stories, I was thrilled when people chimed in with favorite collections. The author that got the most shout outs was Jhumpa Lahiri. (“I’ve found my book soulmate,” said Nigerian Girl; “Yes, yes, a thousand times yes to Jhumpa Lahiri,” added Alina.) Lahiri won a Pulitzer for her first book, Interpreter of Maladies, and a movie was made from her novel, The Namesake — but I decided to start with her 2009 collection Unaccustomed Earth. Like most of her writing, Lahiri focuses on the Bengali immigrant experience in America, zeroing in on themes of belonging, family and home. As commenter NK said, “What is most impressive to me is there’s often nothing exceptional about the setting or person. But man… she gets it.” A big thank you to those who recommended this beautiful book.

Jenny:

Normal People by Sally Rooney
This is one of those novels that a) you don’t want to ever end b) when it ends, you can’t bring yourself to read anything new because you want to live in the story for as long as possible. Rooney, who is 28, broke onto the scene two years ago with her critically acclaimed (and wildly popular) Conversations with Friends. Her second book follows two Irish high school kids who hail from different worlds: Connell is working class and popular, Marianne is wealthy and weird. Once they head to Trinity College in Dublin, the ever-present tension of these basic truths informs their love story as it evolves from secret and sexual to deep and beautiful to intense and life-saving. I handed the novel to my 17-year-old daughter the second I finished; a day later, she passed it on to her 15-year-old sister. So, we all got to live together in Rooney’s world for at least a little while.

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
Yale Tishman has his life all planned out — he’s the director of a small gallery at Northwestern University, about to make a puts-you-on-the-map acquisition; he’s in a long, stable relationship with the publisher of Chicago’s leading gay newspaper. He even has his dream home picked out, and spends several memorable (and heartbreaking) scenes gazing up at its windows picturing his promising future. But this is Chicago in the ’80s, the height of the AIDS epidemic, and the scope of the disease’s destruction is cruel and unavoidable. Makkai alternates between Yale’s story and the story of his friend Fiona, whose brother (Yale’s friend) dies of AIDS before the book begins. Both threads explore the privilege and burden survivors experience when they become responsible for carrying on someone’s memory. The Pulitzer Prize finalist was my first Makkai book (others swear by The Hundred Year House) and I won’t forget it any time soon.

What are you reading right now? Have you read anything great lately? We’d love to hear…

P.S. 15 reader comments on books and more amazing books you may not have read yet.

(Top photo by Stella Blackmon. Book photos around NYC by Lulu Graham.)

  1. Michelle says...

    Interpreter of Maladies is by far Lahiri’s best collection of short stories. I still find myself re-reading them every so often. She remains one of my favorite authors.

  2. Alina says...

    I’m so pleased that you loved Unaccustomed Earth as much as I did. It’s such a beautiful and real portrayal of being human. Thanks for the shout out haha.

  3. I have seen “Normal People” on so many people’s reading lists. That does it, looks like I have to read it now. Thanks for the suggestions!

  4. Just finished Calypso by David Sedaris and am making my way through the Outlander series. I’ll definitely start Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens based on all of these reviews!

  5. Lisa Swope says...

    Rooney’s book is next on my TBR list actually. Currently reading Gary Dickson’s An Improbable Pairing, set in Paris in the 60’s no romance can go wrong with the place or the era! It’s great, and I recommend it!!

  6. Michelle Jacques says...

    Tempted to do the Rory Gilmour reading list challenge. There’s a list on Buzzfeed here: https://www.buzzfeed.com/jennaguillaume/how-many-books-from-gilmore-girls-have-you-read

    Also could we have (another?) post just about poetry collections that people recommend? I’ve just borrowed selected poems of W.B. Yeats from the library which I’m very excited to dip into.

    Thanks all – love the book related posts soooo much!

    • Crystal Zane says...

      Did you look at that list? It’s pretty ambitious to take that on…. 🤨😉😗

    • Margaret says...

      Well if that’s what it takes to get into Yale! Ha ha.

      I recommend the poetry of Mary Oliver, Helen Dunmore and T.S. Elliott.

  7. Alexandra H. says...

    I love reading – yea! I am actually reading The Great Believers right now and am loving it. I also recently finished ‘Where the Crawdads Sign’ and fell in the love the writing and the plot is expertly delivered.

  8. Michelle Jacques says...

    Part way through this book and it’s good so far:
    I’ll Be Right There by Kyung-Sook Shin, Sora Kim-Russell (Goodreads Author) (Translator)

    How friendship, European literature, and a charismatic professor defy war, oppression, and the absurd

    Set in 1980s South Korea amid the tremors of political revolution, I’ll Be Right There follows Jung Yoon, a highly literate, twenty-something woman, as she recounts her tragic personal history as well as those of her three intimate college friends. When Yoon receives a distressing phone call from her ex-boyfriend after eight years of separation, memories of a tumultuous youth begin to resurface, forcing her to re-live the most intense period of her life. With profound intellectual and emotional insight, she revisits the death of her beloved mother, the strong bond with her now-dying former college professor, the excitement of her first love, and the friendships forged out of a shared sense of isolation and grief.

    Yoon’s formative experiences, which highlight both the fragility and force of personal connection in an era of absolute uncertainty, become immediately palpable. Shin makes the foreign and esoteric utterly familiar: her use of European literature as an interpreter of emotion and experience bridges any gaps between East and West. Love, friendship, and solitude are the same everywhere, as this book makes poignantly clear.

  9. Danielle says...

    I love Unaccustomed Earth so much- really I will devour anything by Jhumpa Lahiri. Most of these are on my holds list which is alright because I am currently in the throes of “Ferrante Fever” and am about to start the 4th and final book in the Neopolitan series. I had a few false starts with My Brilliant Friend but I am now firmly engrossed.

    I wanted to add that I was skeptical of the eBook experience for so long but it has really increased my reading habits. It’s easy to have multiple titles on trips and nice to read in the dark when my husband is sleeping. I’ve seen the Libby app mentioned several times. My library also has Hoopla which has fewer titles but there’s no hold wait. The exception being that there is a limited number of borrows per day for your library system. So you sometimes have to wait until the next morning to borrow something.

  10. I love all of the book recommendations, excited to read Normal People first and then move on to Unaccustomed Earth. The last fiction book I read was When All is Said by Anne Griffin. A story that takes place in one day at a bar in Ireland as a gentleman looks back on his life and toasts the people who made the most impact.

  11. Kohinoor says...

    Book posts are my favorite! I’m currently lost in The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. It’s about the Greek figures Achilles, Patroclus and Helen of Troy. A few 5 star reads that I can’t stop thinking of are A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne, Killers of the Flower Moon, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Jaswal Kaur and An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

  12. Joana says...

    I so relate to Jenny’s experience of reading Normal People and passing it on – I’ve been fully consumed by the story and the intensity of the attraction, discovery, love, intimacy… and on finishing reading (in less than 36 hours) I am gasping for air and wanting to share the book to ‘live’ the story all over again with friends. One of the best books I’ve read ever.

    Another vibe but highly enjoyable: We are completely besides ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler. Incredibly sharp writing and anything but a functional setting.

    The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris really touched me and got me re-reading The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank.

  13. Crystal Zane says...

    I very recently finished Before We Were Yours and then next read Where the Crawdads Sing… they were both so amazing with strong characters and so well written… they were sort of complimentary of each other that it was a good pairing to read together. I highly recommend both books!

    • Kate says...

      Yup, Where the Crawdads Sing was absolutely beautiful.

  14. Maria says...

    I’m reading “Her Body and Other Parties” by Carmen Maria Machado, which I strongly recommend!

    • Ana says...

      oh I LOVED that book. And I think I first heard of that author here on cup of jo!

  15. katherine says...

    I freaking love Jhumpa Lahiri. I had an amazing college professor who taught about Lahiri stories and novels in all three courses I took from her!

  16. Kate says...

    I LOVED The Beast Player, by Nahoko Uehashi – it was randomly recommended in a book shop and it was like a combination of Harry Potter and Spirited Away, but with a female protagonist. So good! I also just finished rereading the His Fair Assassin trilogy by Robin LaFevers. Teenage assassin nuns in medieval France, obviously.

  17. Sophia says...

    Great post- I found out about Normal People (and honestly all the best books I’ve read in the past 2 years) from a podcast called Literary Friction: two hilarious, brilliant women, Carrie and Octavia interview authors and discuss books and make recommendations. They did a great interview with Sally Rooney a while back and after I devoured both of her books! Highly recommend it for a good listen and consistently great ideas on what to read next.

  18. Anna says...

    Awesome. Just got an e-reader yesterday (a Kobo. If you’re interested in avoiding Amazon and lining Jeff Bezos pockets)and downloaded The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory. Was wondering what else I should add.

  19. Anna says...

    Awesome. Just got an e-reader yesterday (a Kobo. If you’re interested in avoiding Amazon and lining Jeff Bezos pockets)and downloaded The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory. Was wondering what else I should add.

  20. TIP: I usually go to last season’s (or a previous year’s) book recommendations and put the books on my library queue…this way, no wait :)

  21. CoJ did a post on this one a couple of months ago, but The Unwinding of the Miracle by Julie-Yipp Williams was incredible.

    I highly, highly recommend it :)

  22. YAY thank you! Always excited for book roundups, and my list has been waning currently, so this came at a great time. You sold me on all of these; all are now on my to-read list.

    A couple that I’ve read recently that I liked: Chemistry by Weike Wang & Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot. :)

  23. A little bit out of topic, but I know you (at Cup of Jo) like to talk about book covers. I can’t overlook how different the book covers are depending on the language of the book. I live in Canada in a french-speaking province, and when I walk past a english library, I’m impressed/overwelmed by the colors and patterns and giant titles (and even, sometimes, TEXTURED letters!). French books covers are very sober (boring?), and I wonder WHY? (I have some theories of course). I just though perhaps you would like to take a look on the subject, I’d love to read about it! (sorry for poor english)

    • Vivian says...

      Jhumpa Lahiri actually wrote a book called The Clothing of Books on the subject of book covers. It is interesting to read how an author feels about their own books having different overs.

  24. Emily says...

    My four friends have a different kind of book club (much like what you have with COJ staff). We have a text chain of what we’re reading and anytime one of us hits on something fantastic, the rest of us read it too. Then we meet every four months or so to talk about 3-4 books. It’s like we do the leg work of weeding out mediocre stuff and nothing’s more exciting than when another person chimes in with something like “finished it! That ending!!!!!!” We’ve grown to know what each other likes (I skip any thrillers) and I’ve never read so many wonderful books in my life. Maybe someday I’ll go back to traditional book clubs, but with small children, it’s nice to not have a monthly meeting about a pick we may or may not like. Also, thank you for providing a great space to figure out “what’s next” on my list!

  25. Kiely says...

    I’m almost finished with The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne- it’s so good! Filled with excellent pacing and beautiful descriptions of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (and it’s being made into a movie with Alicia Vikander!)

    Also loved The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne (made me sad and furious all at once) and The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, which was a fascinating fantasy-realism book set in turn of the century New York City.

    • Colleen says...

      I LOVED The Heart’s Invisible Furies!

    • Nicola says...

      My God I have just finished The Hearts Invisible Furies and I feel bereft! Can’t bring myself to start my next book!

  26. Micaela says...

    So far, below are the books I’ve read in 2019. Working on The Overstory still, the latest Pulitzer winner for fiction. Loving it quickly. I’ve done my best to indicate my most favorite reads of the year so far.

    So many other recommendations here to consider… would there be a possibility to do a roundup of the top 10 titles discussed in these posts?

    Books 2019
    Frank Bidart, Half Light: Collected Poems 1965-2016 (713)
    John Cheever, The Stories of John Cheever (693)
    Amanda Stern, Little Panic: Dispatches from an Anxious Life (385)
    Sayaka Murata, Convenience Store Woman (163)
    Sarah Winman, Tin Man (213) BRILLIANT. Everyone I’ve recommended it to have loved it.
    Nafissa Thompson-Spires, Heads of the Colored People (197)
    Brene Brown, Dare to Lead (275) ALL SHOULD READ THIS.
    Heather Morris, The Tattooist of Auschwitz (265)
    Pema Chödrön, The Places that Scare You (130)
    Esi Edugyan, Washington Black (417) YES YES YES
    June Jordan, Some of Us Did Not Die (308)
    Bell Hooks, Talking Back (182)
    John Steinbeck, The Moon is Down (188)
    Sigrid Nunez, The Friend (212) Lovely.
    Zora Neale Hurston, Barracoon: The Story of the Last Slave (143)
    Lisa Ko, The Leavers (400)
    Denis Johnson, The Largesse of the Sea Maiden (207)
    Lisa Halliday, Asymmetry (275) Clever as ever.
    Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (209)
    Melba Escobar, House of Beauty (247)
    Hans Rosling, Factfulness (266)
    Michelle Obama, Becoming (426) But NOT A SURPRISE.
    Glynnis MacNicol, No One Tells You This (293)
    Dolly Alderton, Everything I Know About Love (330) Interesting…. I think another 20/30 year old write on Cup of Jo should review. I did and definitely did not identify with some of this at age 27.
    The Paris Review 217 (193)
    The Paris Review 218 (230)
    Oyinkan Braithwaite, My Sister, The Serial Killer (226)
    Pat Barker, Silence of the Girls (324) Fascinating read.
    Halle Butler, The New Me (191)
    Stephanie Land, Maid (270) Bravo, Stephanie. I learned a lot from you!
    Richard Powers, The Overstory (502) Pulitzer winnerrrrr.

    Thank you!
    Micaela

  27. Maggie says...

    Recently LOVED “A Woman Is No Man” by Etaf Rum. Loved as I’m devoured it in two days! Recommending it to everyone. Also really enjoyed reading The Immortalists this winter.

    Xx

  28. Kimberly Spencer says...

    ‘There There’, by Tommy Orange, a book on Native American Indian’s which was nominated for the Pulitzer prize and made Obama’s favourite books of 2018 list.

    ‘Heart Berries’ by Terese Mailhot, a New York Times Bestseller. A book on Indigenous life in Canada. Also Emma Watson’s bookclub pick. And was featured on Trevor Noah.

    Powerful, heavy but important reads.

  29. Rikki says...

    My favorite topic! Some great books I’ve read recently:

    Bridge of Clay – Markus Zusak. (He’s the author of The Book Thief, which I adored.) While it’s genre is YA, I don’t feel like it read this way. Heart wrenching and heart warming all in one.

    We Were The Lucky Ones – Georgia Hunter. Based on true events about a family in the Holocaust. A beautiful family love story.

    The Wednesday Wars – Gary Schmidt. Probably considered middle grade fiction, but I ADORED this book! Hilarious and heart warming – I fell in love with the characters. Perfect for tweens/teens, but the writing and humor was perfect t for adults too.

    Orbiting Jupiter – Gary Schmidt. Another by the same author. He’s an amazing writer! This is also YA with an interesting, heart-breaking story. Just loved it.

    A Place For Us – Fatima Farheen Mirza. I saved the best for last. This book is beautiful, honest, real, and full of love. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I read it over a year ago. I want the whole world to read it!

  30. Emily says...

    Just finished Normal People and The Friend, which was also great. Dating back further, LaRose and There There gripped me this winter. I love picking up a good book that you can’t put down!

  31. Melanie says...

    Dear Scarlet: The Story of My Postpartum Depression. It’s a graphic memoir written in the form of a love letter to the author’s daughter. Beautifully illustrated, incredibly moving—and funny too! Loved it.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh how beautiful!

  32. Sheila Mary says...

    Agreed that “The Farm” is INCREDIBLE. It’s not released yet though :) Jo must’ve gotten an advanced copy like me.
    As for a great memoir: “No Happy Endings” by Nora McInerny (she hosts the podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking). She’s a woman who gets it.

  33. AJ says...

    We recently had a fire in our home (no one person or pet was home luckily) and the smoke damaged A LOT. I went inside after and took pictures of my TBR pile so I would remember what I had! Thrift Books website has been a great source for replacement copies for cheap (honestly not the most important thing in general and I can go on and on about best practices, insurance, etc) . Currently reading Women Talking (a fictional retelling of the Mennonite women who were drugged and raped for years but told they were imagining it). Others on the list: The Great Believers, Mouthful of Birds, White Fragility, All the Names They Used for God.

  34. Nicole says...

    Florida by Lauren Groff is a great, recent-ish short story collection. Also, This is How You Lose Her by Junior Diaz- the title story is just outstanding (and was published in The New Yorker, so can be read online).

    • Nicole says...

      ETA: anything by Elizabeth Strout

    • Katie says...

      I enjoyed Florida so much I read Fates and Furies immediately after–so good!

  35. I also just read Jen Beagin’s two books Pretend I’m Dead and Vacuuming in the Dark. My word she is talented! Her writing won’t be for everyone-she writes pretty graphically about sex and drugs- but so darkly funny and original.

  36. Samantha says...

    And cue the eternity long wait list at the public library for these books!

  37. I am excited to read Ali Smith’s new book Spring. I recently read and loved Small Fry, An Odyssey, Heads of the Colored People, Look How Happy I’m Making You and Joy Enough. And Daisy Jones and the Six was a guilty pleasure. So many great new books out there!

  38. I am currently reading Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler and loving it. Earlier this year I devoured the Broken Earth series by author NK Jemisin. The first in the series, The Fifth Season, was excellent as a standalone read, but I dare you not to compulsively read all three books! The whole series was totally engrossing!

    • liz says...

      Oh my, I just finished the Parable of the Sower and it was amazing and eerily accurate in some respects, despite being written in 1993! I gasped and woke up my husband toward the end when I heard a certain presidential candidate’s campaign slogan. (Broken Earth series–also so great!)

  39. Elise says...

    love the comment section under book posts! I discovered audiobooks this year and have solved the decades old dilemma of knitting or reading. now i can do both! also good for household chores or commutes.
    so far i listened to (and loved):

    Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine
    Lilac Girls
    Dreams from my Father
    Something in the Water
    The Island of Sea Women

    • Julie says...

      Eleanor Oliphant is one of my faves!

  40. Ana says...

    I come here, I go straight to the smile amazon page, I order samples for my Kindle and when they satay with me after I’m done reading, I order the books!

    Thank you, Cup Of Jo, for giving such tempting recommendations and to all readers, too. I get as many books from the post as from the comments. Love the multitude of polite opinions.

  41. Oh my gosh – what a great book list! Normal People and The Great Believers were 5 star reads for me and I really liked Save Me the Plums and Southern Lady Code too!

    I recently finished another 5 star book…Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane (perfect if you liked Commonwealth)…coming out May 28.

  42. Sheryll says...

    I absolutely fell in love with Daisy Jones & The Six. I honestly thought it was about a real band…that’s how good it is.

  43. Liz says...

    The best book I’ve read in years, and one that I think every person should read is An American Summer by Alex Korlowitz. He writes of the gun violence in Chicago in such an eloquent, humanizing way. The stories help demonstrate how our country is failing children in neighborhoods like the south side of Chicago. My heart has never ached more, both in pain for those who so bravely shared their story and for the city that I love and that I know can do better. This masterpiece should be read by everyone, but especially those who work in public service, education or the medical field. I can’t recommend highly enough.

  44. Em says...

    Boy Swallows Universe is a hilarious, heart-breaking, character filled read. It is so vividly written, it almost feels like the words are in technicolor.

  45. Amazing recent reads:

    Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
    (vivid, sprawling, tender)

    Melmoth by Sarah Perry
    (beautiful, haunting, gothic)

    Milkman by Anna Burns
    (like nothing else I’ve read. Mesmerising and yes, challenging)

    If Beale Street Could Talk
    (sensitive, tense, powerful)

    Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller
    (dreamy, delicate, gripping)

    Textbook by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
    (heartbreaking, hopeful, funny. Devastating)

    • Margaret says...

      Pachinko and Milkman are two of the best books I have read in the past year! Per your recommendation, I just checked out Melmoth, thanks!

    • Jenny P says...

      Yes I completely agree with your recommendation for Milkman. The audio book is so worth listening to after you’ve read the book.

  46. Jocelyn says...

    This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel was incredible. It explores the roadblocks parents face and the difficult decisions they must make on behalf of their children. Frankel also writes with so much heart that I couldn’t help but instantly fall in love!

  47. I read a lot (like, A LOT a lot), and If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio has stuck in my brain so hard, I cannot get over it. I don’t even really know why; I know it’s basically a Shakespearean rip off of The Secret History, and when I was reading it I found some of the plot points to be contrived, but the characters have dug into my soul and I STILL have such a big book hangover from it.

    Also, if anyone’s interested in YA that’s great for adults, And I Darken by Kiersten White is a retelling trilogy of Vlad the Impaler as a girl. It’s dark and brutal and so, so good. Other YA trilogies that are fantastic are The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden (Russian folklore, so sweeping and magical) and The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty (djinn and political machinations, yes please – the second book just came out in January, so you have to wait another year until the third !!) and An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (this is actually a quartet, and she’s writing the fourth book now – this series will tear your heart in two, the world is so harsh and Elias is such a cinnamon roll, I can’t take it).

  48. I think that if you liked The Handmaid’s Tale, then The Farm will be a big let-down. I get what Joanne Ramos was trying to do but it lacked depth and nuance. It’s still your run-of-the-mill chick lit, and in terms of literary quality, doesn’t merit comparison to Margaret Atwood.

    I just finished Motherland by Elissa Altman, and Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner and loved both!

  49. Abby says...

    Read Mira Jacob’s GOOD TALK twice it was so, so, so good.

  50. K says...

    I just read Goodbye, Vitamin and loved it! Highly recommend!

  51. Katherine says...

    All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage – just finished this after staying up all night the day I started it because I couldn’t put it down. The characters are complex and conflicted; even the secondary characters are deeply important whose stories and emotions are explored and indulged, and the story is gripping.

    Parable of the Sower/Parable of Talents by Octavia Butler – an older scifi/dystopian series from the mid 90s but OHMYGOSH if you’ve not read them you will likely gasp out loud like I did in the first book at her prediction of what politicians would be like in the future. I mean it is CRAZY ACCURATE for the times we currently live in. I devoured these books in one weekend.

    Sadie by Courtney Summers – I think Caroline recommended this one awhile ago; it is technically YA so it’s a relatively short read but so captivating. Basically a missing girl story/mystery that is unraveled by way of an investigative journalist who shares his findings on a podcast. If you like Serial, you’ll love this book.

  52. Heidi says...

    I just finished Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck. A beautifully written book that explores the immigration/asylum issues in Germany. One that will stay with me for awhile.

    Thanks for the reminder of jhumpa lahiri. I love everything of hers that I’ve read.

    • This was so good!

  53. Rachel says...

    I want to read all of these! But what to do about buying each one? I’m running out of book storage room on my shelves, and, in an effort to be more green, I’m trying not to buy so many things I won’t use more than once. But I’ll never be able to get these books at our local library. What to do??

    • Kiely says...

      If you’re open to e-books, try the Libby app! You can sign up with your library card and download books on your phone or iPad for free.

    • Julie says...

      I’ve also stopped completely buying books as I read them once and then have to find something to do with them. It seems like a waste of money/space/resources. Second to the other comment – yes to Libby! Sometimes you still have to wait for the popular books but then they just appear on your phone and also sync to a tablet etc. And it means you can just pull your phone out and start reading anywhere as well.
      But also if you don’t want to read on your phone I would still recommend requesting them as a hold from your public library. Usually they arrive quicker than expected and even if they take several months its almost like an unexpected gift when you get to the top of the list!

    • M. says...

      Buying a book might seem like a “waste” of paper or space, but definitely not money! I fully support libraries but people have to buy books, otherwise writers can’t earn money for their work. If you want to support good literature, buy books! (And buy them from independent bookstores!)

  54. Zoe says...

    People have such good comments on here- I’ve added 10 books to my library hold list. To throw out some more good ones I’ve read this year: The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker, The Power by Naomi Alderman, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, and Transcription by Kate Atkinson (anything by Kate Atkinson, really.).

  55. Talya says...

    I just finished Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala – highly recommended.

    • Julia says...

      That was the first book I read this year! I loved it. I cried finishing it. Delivers such a powerful message about intersectionality and family and agency.

  56. Moira says...

    Just started “Ghost Bride” by Yangsze Choo….so far it’s really captivating!

  57. Emma says...

    OMG Jenny I totally agree! After finishing Normal People I couldn’t pick up another book for weeks – anything I tried just didn’t measure up! Rooney is such a fabulous author. I did finally find another book that I loved just as much – Notes to Self by Emilie Pine (also an Irish author, with a similar clean prose). I highly recommend it to anyone, young/old, female/male, it just has so much truth about the experience of being human, and especially cis-gender female human. I’m rambling. Just, please read it!

    • Alix says...

      I just didn’t get Normal People at all. Read it and was left completely cold by it. I’m obviously missing something as everyone else raves about it, but just not my cup of tea at all. A recent fave Irish series is Dublin Murder Squad by Tana French – different main character each time from within the force, so you’re not just stuck with one person. Loved them.

    • Katie says...

      Alix, I completely agree about Normal People. Glad I’m not the only one.

    • Julie says...

      Alix – SAME! I enjoyed the first bit of Normal People, I read it on holiday in bed while my husband was sleeping in but then when I went back to read more of it, it seemed endless and quite frustrating. The whole time I was like ARGH if they would just communicate a bit better their lives would be so much easier. Haha.
      I also live the Dublin Murder Squad series although I thought Tana French’s most recent book wasn’t quite as good. I’ve been hunting for others in a similar vein but haven’t had much luck – but the Robert Galbraith series is also great (written by JK Rowling under a pseudonym) and I have recently been reading this series https://www.lindacastillo.com/amish_crime_thriller_series.html which are all on the Libby app. The first couple are really good and then they get a bit trashier/repetitive but I think I’m mostly noticing this because I’m bulk reading them one after another haha. They kind of remind me of the Bones books.

  58. Julie says...

    I loved Sally Rooney’s novel Conversations with friends, and I can’t wait to read this new one.
    I just finished A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman and really fell in love with the characters, especially Parvaneh, his pushy, funny neighbour.

    • Nancy says...

      Love A Man Called Ove! Have you read his other books? Beartown is good too!

    • Kelli says...

      Oh wonderful sweet Fredrik Backman- I loved A Man Called Ove, but loved My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry even more! If you enjoyed Ove, try this one too :)

    • Amanda says...

      Kelli, YES on My Grandmother Told me to Tell You She’s Sorry. I read it a couple of years ago and that year, there was more than one person on my list who received it as a Christmas gift. There’s also a loose sequel, Britt-Marie Was Here, which I also quite liked.

  59. Lacey says...

    I just want to put The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See on someone’s radar. Heartbreaking and lovely.

  60. Julie says...

    Woo hoo all of these are going on the list! Thanks for the recommendations!

  61. shannon says...

    Just placed library ebook holds on the farm, normal people, and southern lady code! Thanks for the recs!

  62. Laura says...

    If anyone reads down this far, I want to plug The Stripe: https://thestripe.com/
    She does monthly book reviews and, while our taste is not exactly the same, I always know if I will like a book based on her reviews. She keeps my to read list full!

    • that is so nice, laura! Cup of Jo is one of my daily reads so I loved seeing this! xx

    • Dee says...

      The lowland is beautiful. Highly recommend to everyone. Clean writing (no heavy prose) and completely captivating. I’ve read it three times!

  63. Jamie S says...

    Hi, Just a suggestion.. when cup of jo links to books it would be so lovely if you would link to a local bookstore… either inNew York or otherwise. Many book stores will ship nationally and even if not, it’s pretty easy to take the extra step to look up something on Amazon if that’s really what you want. It may not make much difference but it also may lead to people not getting stuck on autopilot, and instead supporting local, community based businesses rather than giant corporations.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      We do a mix! There are indie stores in this post too. Thank you so much xoxo

    • Lily says...

      Agreed! I want to support my local book shops and Cup of Jo! Thanks for raising, Jamie.

  64. Sherrie says...

    You just HAVE TO read “Where the Crawdads Sing” – the most AMAZING book of 2019. When a story stays with you…..it stays with you. This one will for a long time.

    • Jo says...

      Am I the only person on the planet that hated this book? I couldn’t stand the way the protagonist was described (skinny/big eyes/clothes clinging to her breasts/beautiful but didn’t know it…) and the characters were so cliche it made me physically cringe.

    • Elizabeth R says...

      Jo, I disliked it too.

    • Laura says...

      Jo, I had the same feeling as you! It bothered me so much that her thinness and beauty was emphasized over and over and over. She was thin because she was left alone in circumstances that no child should ever be left in and she was malnourished! I couldn’t get past that and it made me appreciate the book (which was a captivating story) much less.

    • Tara says...

      I also didn’t like it. So much so that I stopped reading it. (I decided a few years ago that life is too short to continue reading books I don’t like. It’s not a personal failing to ditch a book you just can’t stand, I told myself.).

    • Nicole says...

      I also loved Where the Crawdads Sing and have been recommending it to everyone. Conversely, I was turned off of the previous two years best sellers Educated and A Little Life, so I guess to each their own…

  65. Carly says...

    Just started Sally Rooney’s ‘Conversation with Friends;’ love it and cannot wait to start ‘Normal People.’ Just finished ‘Pretend I’m Dead’ by Jen Beagin and oh my god it was so good. I think I copied down quotes to add to my ‘quotes’ folder in the Notes app from nearly every other page. Cannot wait to start her follow up novel ‘Vaccum in the Dark’ next.

  66. Julia says...

    The Heart is a Shifting Sea, by Elizabeth Fock. So so so good. It’s non fiction that reads just like a novel, about three Indian couples’ marriages. I can’t place my finger on exactly what it is that makes this book so captivating but I highly recommend recommend it. The Times has a glowing review if my inarticulate praise isn’t convincing enough haha.

  67. My actual dream is to have Joanna read my new book Making Motherhood Work: How Women Manage Careers and Caregiving (Feb 2019, Princeton University Press).

    I think of it as the book version of your Motherhood Around the World series. I’m a sociology professor in St. Louis and specialize in cross-national work on gender inequality in the workplace and in family life. The book is based on 5 years of interviews I conducted with 135 working moms in Sweden, Germany, Italy, and the US to understand how they navigate employment and motherhood in these very different cultural and political contexts. I paint a story of what it’s like to be a working mom in each of these places, and makes a series of calls to action (we need a social movement for work-family justice!) to better support women and their families.

    I thought of the Cup of Jo community as my ideal readers when I wrote it–so thanks, all of you, for the guidance and inspiration!

    • Jill says...

      Oh wow!!! :))

    • Michelle says...

      Congratulations on your hard and meaningful accomplishment! This sounds so interesting!

    • Lily says...

      Dr. Collins! I thought I recognized the title your book. I read your (fascinating, depressing) article in the NY Times a few months ago. Will definitely check out your work–mazel tov on being published!

    • MB says...

      Can’t wait to read it – congratulations!

    • Hannah says...

      I cannot wait to read this book! As a career-driven new mom, I’ve recently become obsessed with this topic. Thank you for writing it.

    • Nancy says...

      I’m a mom/academic, too, and am waiting for your book to come to me through ILL! So much fun to “see” you here! Congrats on the book!

  68. Jen says...

    My first thought after reading the description for The Farm was that women of color, specifically enslaved persons in the US have endured this exact kind of trauma that still has ripples affecting black femme lives today. We don’t get to choose to be shocked by this kind of emotional voyeurism like white women seem to love to be!

    Not a condemnation, but a perspective. I’ve been reading for literal years and have loved witnessing the growth! Keep on growin’.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, i hear you. the author, joanne ramos, was born in the phillipines and then her family came to the U.S. the book has themes of inequality, class and race, and as the publisher writes, “The Farm details a spectrum of women’s experiences in a world that is very nearly ours. It explores the roles of luck and merit in individual lives, examines the fundamental inequalities we inherit, and presents a fresh lens into motherhood and otherhood.” it’s much deeper than it looks on first glance (i should have made that more clear) — which is a big reason why i’m looking forward to reading it.

  69. Sarah says...

    I’m listening to My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton and it is so good! The Great Alone is excellent! Also loved The Great Believers!

  70. I’m reading The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell. It took me a bit to get into it (I almost gave up), but it’s finally starting to pay off. He builds the story with such vivid an careful detail that you feel like you’re watching it all unfold from your window. Every page is like a paper-thin layer of a very delicious croissant.

  71. Page says...

    Great Believers is my beat book of the year (so far!). I spent my 20s in Chicago and it made me feel like I was walking around my old neighbourhood. It was also beautiful and devastating. Rebecca Makkai is speaking at the Sydney Writers ‘s Festival this weekend and I get to go see her speak! So excited.

    • Suzanne says...

      I think it’s the best book I’ve EVER read. As soon as I finished, I read it again, and I’ve given it as gifts. Very envious that you’re going to hear her speak!

    • K says...

      I agree! the story has stuck with me, several months after reading. It was haunting but just beautiful writing.

  72. I’m currently reading Small Fry, a memoir by Lisa Brennan-Jobs (daughter of Steve Jobs), and really enjoying it so far. She is a great writer, and her life story and insight into a part of her father’s life that most people don’t know well is so interesting.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      omg i LOVED small fry. so much. it also, to me, felt like a memoir of growing up with a father on the spectrum (although she mentioned his possible diagnosis very briefly).

    • I loved Small Fry. So beautifully written. 😊

  73. Ali says...

    The Falconer by Dana Czapnik about a girl in her senior year of HS navigating her crush on her best friend, her amazing talent playing basketball and feeling like an outsider because she is such a good athlete. Set in NYC in the 90’s so I related to it much more than Conversations with Friends and Normal People. Although I really liked Normal People too.

  74. Hannah says...

    Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb should be on this list! You won’t be able to put it down!

    • EliseB says...

      Yes! Reading this book right now upon a recommendation from a book savvy friend. I cannot put it down either. It is at once fun, heart breaking. Love book talk on CoJ.

    • Erin says...

      I’m on my library’s wait list for that one. I like Lori Gottlieb’s column in the Atlantic and am looking forward to reading the book.

    • Sarah says...

      YES I LOVE THIS BOOK. Should totally be on this list! Funny, honest, thoughtful – a must read.

  75. Elizabeth Anderson says...

    I love love loved Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb. It’s all about therapy and human connection and it’s just a lovely reminder that we all go through it and can use some help sometimes. Especially good for Mental Health Awareness Month this month! Did anyone else read it??

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      my friend in austin was raving about it!

    • Sarah says...

      Omg, I’m loving Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. About to buy a copy for a friend!

  76. Janet says...

    Lights all Night Long by Lydia Fitzpatrick. A terrific first novel, published in April, and the best novel I’ve read in a long time. Don’t miss it.

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      I just read an excerpt based on your recommendation and I’m hooked. Adding it to my next-read list along with Naamah by Sarah Blake, a retelling of the biblical great flood from the perspective of Naamah, Noah’s wife.

  77. Nigerian Girl says...

    I’m so chuffed to see my name in your post, Joanna. Glad you enjoyed Unaccustomed Earth. The Farm is on my radar, along with What Red Was by Rosie Price. Lately I’ve read and loved Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett and Half in Love by Maile Meloy. Sally Rooney’s work is excellent. You’re in for a treat with Normal People.

    • Deanne says...

      Wait is this Jhumpa Lahiri writing this comment? Could that be true? On the off chance that it is, can I just say thank you for Interpreter of Maladies?? It forever changed what I thought about short stories. I have read everything you have written since. I know many committed readers who also believe that your words made an indelible impact (and I’m not referring to anyone on the Pulitzer committee).

      A grateful reader and fan – Deanne

      P.S. I have worked in the film business for over 20 years and I have never written a fangirl post like this.

    • Jeanne says...

      Whoa…ok just in case, I’m going to jump in on this thread and fangirl Jhumpa Lahiri too! One of my absolute favorite writers hands down. The cadence of Interpreter of Maladies felt like it nestled into my soul and took me to another world, one you just never wanted to end. I was sad when the ride was over. Both Interpreter of Maladies and and Unaccustomed Truth have my bookplates in them, something I am extremely stingy about placing. They’re in my stack of “save in case of fire” books!

    • I think it’s the commenter “Nigerian Girl” who said she loved Lahiri. But one of these days maybe the author herself will grace us? :)

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      Oh oh. I’m not Jhumpa Lahiri (A girl can only dream) and I really do hope she gets to read your comments someday. I’ve taken them as a sign and I wholeheartedly accept the blessings you’ve spoken into my life.

  78. Rachel says...

    Love Jhumpa Lahiri. Of this year’s reads, these were unforgettable: “Crossing to Safety” by Wallace Earle Stegner, “Happiness” by Aminatta Forna, and “The Far Field” by Madhuri Vijay.

    • Mona says...

      Crossing to Safety is a top five (or maybe ten) lifetime book for me!! I *love* that story. My desert island booklist would also include Pride and Prejudice, Cutting for Stone, Rules of Civility, and Three Junes . More recent faves include The Great Believers, The Heirs, and The Heart’s Invisible Furies.

  79. janee says...

    I’m reading Chronicles From the Future: The amazing story of Paul Dienach: Based on his diary pages.
    It’s a translation of a real diary written by a Swiss man in 1918 after he returned from a year-long coma. He wrote the diary to record his spectacular experience while in the coma. He never told anyone about it at the time for fear of it ruining his reputation but now it has recently been published in English.
    I love science fiction and I love alternative realities so this is proving to be a really great read.

  80. Tammy says...

    I read and loved “Unaccustomed Earth” a few years ago and then left it sitting on my bookshelf. In a purging moment, I donated it to the book sale at the school fun fair. A week later, while browsing the selection at the fun fair, I inadvertently BOUGHT IT BACK, because I thought it looked good. A testament to the distracted mind of a mom and an irresistible book.

  81. Tess says...

    I highly recommend the book I just finished: The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner. And, yes, Lahiri is a short story master!

    • Sarah says...

      I also really liked The Mars Room!

  82. K says...

    The Tsar of Love and Techno is a short story collection that I’m reading and really enjoying. I loved Anthony Marra’s book A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, so I had to check out his stories, too.

    Also, those comments perfectly sum up Jhumpa Lahiri.

    Finally, I realize this is a random spot for this comment, but did Stella move on to another job? I always enjoyed reading her posts and would love to follow her elsewhere, too, if she’s still writing.

    • JayNay says...

      I started reading “The Tsar of Love and Techno” but had to stop because it was just SO dark. Everyone dies! (it’s a collection of short stories so this isn’t really a spoiler).

    • Tania says...

      Yes I’ve wondered about Stella too! I loved her style, and always found myself lusting after something she was wearing.

    • Jenny says...

      I of course don’t work for Cup of Jo, but in previous posts they mentioned Stella moved on to work on photography with New York Magazine. I miss her a lot too but they’re all apparently very happy for her. :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes! we’re working on an overdue post about staff updates — but in the meantime, stella went to new york magazine to be a photo editor (photographer is her first love), after 3.5 wonderful years at Cup of Jo. we miss her every day! but are so proud of her. xoxo

    • K says...

      Glad she’s doing something she enjoys!

    • Zoe says...

      I recommend A Constellation of Vital Phenomena to anyone who asks me what to read. It’s amazing. Tsar of Love and Techno is excellent too, but oh man, Constellation. Unforgettable.

    • Tania says...

      Thanks for the update! Go Stella! The only other blog I read as much as Cup of Jo is probably the Cut so go figure :)

  83. Kelsey says...

    Recently I’ve really liked Meg Wolitzer’s The Female Persuasion and Keith Maillard’s Twin Studies!

  84. Samantha says...

    Are there any other readers out there that have/want to start a book club in the Baltimore area? I have tried to start one with SO FREAKING MANY different people, and no one ever sticks to it!

  85. Nicola says...

    I have just finished
    Born a Crime – Trevor Noah (side splitting laughter!)
    Educated – by Tara Westover
    When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi (Joanna, I was constantly thinking of you and your sister.)
    and have just started Where the Crawdad Sing by Delia Owens

    and to my kids I’ve been reading Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree series. Joanna, have you heard of these books from your British family? I devoured them as a kid.

    • Sarah says...

      I loved Educated and When Breath Becomes Air. I liked Born A Crime but don’t think I found it as funny as some friends did. Maybe just my mood? I liked Where the Crawdads sing, but again not as much as my friends. Maybe I’m getting picky in my 40s. :)

    • My 7 year old absolutely LOVES Enid Blyton! Check out her Adventure series (The River of Adventure, the Valley of Adventure, the Sea of Adventure, etc). Though, I must say that my daughter complains that the two boys in the series always leave the two girls holed up in some cave to protect them. But it gives us a great opportunity to talk about feminism, how things have changed in the last century, and how much more ground we still have to cover!

  86. ND says...

    This is not a new book, but I can’t stop thinking about it:

    Edgar & Lucy: A Novel by Victor Lodato. This felt like the kind of book Wes Anderson would write. I am crossing fingers that he will make it into a movie one day. It’s quirky and wonderful.

  87. Maire says...

    Just finished Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe. It was a fascinating look into the Troubles from the perspective of former IRA members. I listened on audio and the narrator was great, but I also got a physical copy so I could read through all his painstaking notes.

    In Romancelandia: very excited to read Alyssa Cole’s newest novel, A Prince On Paper as well as Sonali Dev’s Pride Prejudice and Other Flavors and Helen Hoang’s sophomore novel The Bride Test.

    • Nicola says...

      Just listened the a sample on Audible. Love that it’s read by someone from Northern Ireland. Thanks for the recommendation.

    • Em says...

      I will hardly ever pick up a non-fiction book but kept reading stellar reviews of Say Nothing so gave it a go. I thought it was such an incredible read, I kept trying to bring it into conversations so I could talk to people about it!

    • Nora says...

      Say Nothing was amazing! I’m frustrated that I have no one to discuss it with.

  88. Cynthia says...

    I just finished “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult. I could not put it down and I stayed up way late last night to finish it because I had to know how it ended before I went to sleep. Thanks for the recommendations.

  89. Lauren says...

    @Caroline – Southern Ladies are the funniest people on the planet. I was raised by them, I am one, and I’m raising another. I’m glad you’re enjoying it. Secret’s out, I guess.

    @Jenny – Funny enough, I just read BOTH OF THESE books back-to-back and I was emotionally exhausted after. They’re both breathtaking and human, but I need to read a BEACH BOOK after that because PHEW I AM TIRED NOW.

  90. Elizabeth says...

    Yay, books! If anyone is looking for a great autobiography, I highly recommend “The Push” by Tommy Caldwell. He’s a top-ranked rock climber, but you don’t have to know anything about that sport to be riveted by his incredible adventures. His ability to overcome various life challenges is truly inspiring!

  91. AnneL says...

    Like someone above said, I am also having a heart heavy spring so while I have The Great Believers on my Kindle, it’s waiting while I read some more soothing things.
    So – Dreyer’s English – who knew a book about copyediting could be so very funny.
    Doctor Thorne – I love Anthony Trollope’s women because while he judges them by his Victorian standards, he can’t help but write them so specifically that we understand them better than he does.
    The Midnight Circus – everyone I know loved it, it’s been sitting on my Kindle forever and it’s clearly exactly what I want right now.

  92. anja says...

    I loved ” Picture us in the light” (YA)

  93. Emily says...

    Recent excellent reads:
    Children of Blood and Bone (YA/fantasy – think Harry Potter meets Hunger Games)

    I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whitness (memoir nonfiction, such an important book for white people – for all people – to read)

    Killers of the Flower Moon (narrative historical nonfiction, SO chillingly good)

    There There (beautiful narrative about “urban indians” from first time author Tommy Orange)

    • Lesley says...

      There There was so moving. I still find myself thinking about it weeks later…

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s my next book! i’m excited to have such a fun lineup right now: just finished alice munro short stories, crawdads and conversations with friends — now reading The Farm, then There There, then Normal People, then Southern Lady Code. feels so good to have amazing books in the pipeline!

    • Laura says...

      I second I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness. So thought provoking about things I hadn’t considered before.

    • I thought There There was a stunning debut. And I was so glad to have read Killers of the Flower Moon. Such an important book.

    • Micaela Neumann says...

      Glad ‘There, There’ is getting the love. I have a first edition signed by Tommy Orange, and my mother was blown away when she saw him speak at the Austin Book Fair (name might be wrong), in the city I love and in which I grew up from age 3 before moving to Switzerland (saw Austin got some love on Cup of Jo this week too!).

      I hope this is also read in light of its recent shortlisting for the Pulitzer for fiction, alongside the Great Believers. It’s Orange’s first novel, and it almost won the Pulitzer (imagine this bolded, with clapping and praise emojis). This is an incredible achievement from a new author and minority voice in American literature. Worth it, without a doubt.

  94. Amy says...

    Engrossed in A Woman is No Man, about 3 generations of women growing up in a strict subset of Islam. It’s a fictional but illuminating look at a culture I know little about from an author with firsthand experience.

  95. JD says...

    Hot tip for all of you library patrons out there:
    The wait is often much shorter for the large-print version of popular books — usually days/weeks instead of weeks/months.

    • MJ says...

      I don’t like reserving these because I am not someone who truly needs a large print book to read.

    • msvc says...

      This is a great tip. I work in a library and increasing circulation stats of large print is definitely a good thing and can result in a larger budget for the collection. Good thinking JD!

  96. Elizabeth says...

    My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent tore me apart–in the best way!
    Difficult to read but impossible to put down.

    • Sarah says...

      That is a really great book. Trigger warning though. Basically every kind of abuse imaginable.

    • Katherine says...

      I wish I’d known the trigger warning before reading this book – had heard only great things so was excited to read it and now it is one I wish I’d never read because of how awful and haunting the abuse was. Why it is not mentioned AT ALL in any reviews or blurbs is disturbing to me.

  97. talia says...

    Daisy and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Educated by Tara Westover, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, all fantastic books!

  98. Sarah says...

    Thank you for this list, CoJ team! The library near me is mostly a community center, so they don’t have inventory to browse (though books get delivered there for me to pick up). I have a hard time finding good books without being able to thumb through them, so your list is wonderful and this community always has great recs. Just put in library requests for three of these (plus Where the Crawdads Sing) and can’t wait to get back to reading!!

  99. Keeley says...

    I’ve also put a few of these on hold at my local library. I kind of love the long wait list as I always know it’ll pop up available when I least expect it and it’s so delightful.

    A suggestion for future book recommendation lists: My book club is a very thrifty group and we never buy the books we read (always the library). We now almost always choose books to read that are 2+ years old so we can find them easily. There are so many amazing older books and there’s so much focus on the new-releases that are expensive and hard to find at the library. It’d be fun for Cup of Jo to revisit their favorite (perhaps older) reads sometime!

    • Sarah says...

      Yes to this request! Sometimes I wait over two months for a book (or 4 months– ahem, Becoming) (worth it though) and find it so difficult to plan for a good book-reading period of my life. I’d love to hear about some older books that are lesser known, so I might be able to read them right when I hear about them!

    • Amanda says...

      I love this idea!

    • Torie says...

      I LOVE this idea! I’m a library gal as well!

    • Jennifer says...

      Suggestion for you, as I suffer from the same problem: Try the podcast What Shoukd I Read Next for recommendations. She does a good job of recommending both new and old books, and if you want to be certain they’re at least two years old, just listen to the older episodes! I find GREAT book recommendations this way. She covers plenty of books in every episode, and because of her, my TBR list is long enough that I’m never really in a dry spot.

  100. K says...

    I’ve been hunting for a new book- I return to Cup of Jo archives when I’m on the hunt and been looking for the fresh list!
    Thanks ladies!

  101. Stacy says...

    Unaccustomed Earth–that ending! You need to read Interpreter of Maladies, too! The first short story is seared in my memory, even though I read it over a decade ago…

    For another book of short stories, I loved _What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky_ by Lesley Nneka Arimah. The stories range from my usual favorite genre of realistic fiction/family drama to folklore and even sci-fi. I felt stretched in the best way.

    • Angela says...

      Yes!! Loved both of these.

  102. Quinn says...

    Normal People and The Great Believers have been two of my favourite reads so far this year! Happy to see them mentioned here! Going to put Caroline’s recommendations on hold at the library now. :)

  103. Courtney says...

    I just sent this link to my book club! We recently read Circe by Madeline Miller, and I couldn’t get enough of it. Thanks for these recs… hoping to read Sally Rooney next!

    • emily says...

      I loved Circe! I followed it with Song of Achilles and then The Silence of the Girls. If anyone has any similar recommendations, I would love to hear them!

    • Emily, Mary Renault does a bunch of historical novels about characters like Theseus and Alexander the Great. I recently found her stuff on Goodreads. I haven’t read any of it yet, but The Last of the Wine is on my TBR.

  104. Erin says...

    I just finished “You Think It, I’ll Say It” by Curtis Sittenfeld. It’s a short story collection and was very enjoyable. One of the stories is called “Bad Latch,” a title I found so hilarious that it sold me on reading the whole book.

    • Ro says...

      I also just finished that! I’ll read anything Curtis Sittenfeld writes, she is amazing. I don’t normally do short story collections, but I’m starting to rethink like Joanna based on this one.

    • Nora says...

      Bad Latch! The name was funny, but it had me crying at the end.

  105. Emily Imhoff says...

    I read Normal People twice in two consecutive days — literally paused to take a breath after finishing the last paragraph just to flip back to the front and start all over again. I echo Jenny’s desire to live in the story for as long as possible. Not my usual genre of choice, but I’d recommend it to any person.

    My book club just finished reading the Care and Hunger and Ravenously Hungry Girls. Pretty good but a bit sad. Looking forward to reading All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung next.

    • Hillary says...

      I did the same thing. I read it and then immediately starting reading it again. I can’t express how much I loved that book.

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      I actually picked up a book of essays (“I Miss You When I Blink”) the day after I finished “Normal People” and COULD NOT READ IT. I’m sure I’ll go back to it, but it was too much of a shock to my system after NP. I was on vacation, and beelined for the nearest bookstore to buy “Conversations with Friends” so I could extend my stay in Sally Rooney-ville a little longer. :)

  106. Heidi says...

    Okay you guys have to read this book… I think it’s totally under the radar. It’s called A Lite Too Bright by Samuel Miller. It is considered YA, (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) but it didn’t read that way. This story is so well written and it covers loss, grief, mystery, love, a cross-country journey and the ending just wrecked me in the best way. Please, please, please read this!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      this sounds wonderful!

    • Jillian says...

      Yes! I’ve had this book sitting on my Kindle for months now. I guess it’s time to read it!

  107. Lynn says...

    I am reading the graphic novel, Watchmen, from DC comics (in anticipation for whatever HBO is up to) and LADY OH LADY it is nice to challenge my brain like this. By that I mean reading and seeing at the same time.

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      I love seeing the Watchmen (or any graphic novel) in here! My daughter, Phoebe, is obsessed with that series. I just finished Adrian Tomine’s “Killing and Dying” (amazing) and the graphic novel “Sabrina,” which was the first graphic novel to ever be on the long list for the prestigious Man Booker Prize. Warning: Very dark. But it’s insane how different and deep the graphic novel reading experience can be — nothing quite like it.

  108. Jen says...

    The Great Believers tore me up! I was devastated after reading it (in a good way) and it left me ruined for reading other books for nearly a month. My favorite book of 2018 hands-down. I finished Conversations with Friends this morning and though I liked the ending quite a lot, I felt about 20 years too old for the book, in the same way when I tried to read Catcher in the Rye for the first time in my 30s. I just borrowed the audio version of Southern Lady Code from the library where I work, so thanks for the recommendation, Caroline!

  109. Kim says...

    The last few novels I’ve read that I’ve really, really enjoyed are Warlight, by Michael Ondaatje, Once Upon a River, by Diane Setterfield, and The House We Grew Up In, by Lisa Jewell.

    If you like The Farm, I would recommend Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich. It’s such a departure from her other novels (at least the ones I’ve read) but still so powerful.

    • I really enjoyed Once Upon a River- a really good read!

  110. Katie Peshek says...

    I love your book recommendation posts – keep them coming!

  111. Carrie says...

    These posts are my FAVORITE!!!!! Thank you!!! Cannot wait for more comments and suggestions. I’ve already added several to my reading list. Perfect timing with a 3-month-old where feedings seem to drag on foreverrrrrrr and I’ve reached what feels like the end of Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video – ha.

  112. Hannah G says...

    I’ve had a heart-heavy spring so far, and gave myself permission to finally catch up on the rest of Louise Penny’s Three Pines series. ( I try and space my mystery novel consumption out or I’d be up to 2am every morning, I’m talking to you, Tana French). But something about Penny’s books give me courage to face the hard and ugly things in the world with love and grace and beauty. And they always remind me that while that fight is is hard, it is worth it.

    • Kelsey says...

      I love Louise Penny’s books! Also working my way through the series.

    • Jillian says...

      LOVE Louise Penny!

    • Erika says...

      Yes to Louise Penny! Eagerly awaiting her next book in that series!!

    • K says...

      I’m reading them right now! They are so pleasant and enjoyable to read between other books. I find some much comfort in coming back to Gamache and Three Pines, like old friends :)

    • Bates says...

      Love them too!!! I listen to them – the reader is wonderful.

  113. Emma says...

    “My Absolute Darling”!!! Oh my gosh…

    • Ro says...

      Seconded!

  114. Shannon says...

    I just finished The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle. It was so good, I didn’t want it to end. Highly recommend.

  115. Jessie says...

    Seconding the Great Believers. It manages to take a topic that is scary and horrible and create a world full of characters who inspire you and feel just like you. I live in Chicago, and it felt crazy to read the passages of places I frequent! The best bookstore in Chicago (in my opinion), Unabridged Books, got a huge beautiful shoutout.
    Another great book I read this year by a midwest author is The Illusionists — the story of 4 siblings who find out the “day they are going to die” from a fortune teller as kids. Then you follow each sibling as they grow up with this fortune in hand. It’s a masterful creation of characters where you get to live as each of them for a time (including a female magician, so get pumped for that).
    Also Fredrik Backman’s (of A Man Called Ove fame) second Beartown novel Us Against You is one of the best books I have ever read. He is such an incredible world-builder. It’s poignant for the times and so so heartfelt (as is everything he writes).
    Thanks for all of the suggestions COJ team!

    • Ashley says...

      “Incredible world builder” is such a great way to describe Fredrik Backman! Beartown is one of the best books that I’ve ever read, and it has stuck with me long after finishing it. I think it should be required reading for everyone. Also loved Us Against You.

    • Maria Smit says...

      I LOVED Beartown and Us Against You. Could not wait to jump into bed and read and didn’t want the books to end.

    • Katie says...

      Jessie, I also live in Chicago and I agree that Unabridged Books is the best!! I was so excited to see it. Rebecca Makkai is going to be speaking there in June for the paperback release of The Great Believers.

      Just finished Beartown so I’ll have to check out Us Against You soon. But, first I need to read There, There for my book club.

    • Summer says...

      I read The Illusionist a while ago, and kind of hated it – but it completely stuck with me and I keep thinking of the characters months later. Actually worth the read!

  116. 2 of the best books I’ve read lately happen to be non-fiction:

    Bad Blood: non-fiction account of Theranos which was a company that said it was revolutionizing the collection/testing of blood but it was all LIES. This book reads like fiction.

    Inheritance: memoir written by a woman who takes an ancestry.com genetics test and discovered her father wasn’t actually her father. Her parents are deceased when she finds this out so she has to figure out what the eff happened. Very compelling read and very relevant now that genetic testing is so accessible and inexpensive. Gone are the days of the anonymous sperm donor.

    • Lindsey says...

      I just finished and loved The Care and Feeding of Ravenous Girls!

    • Nancy says...

      Bad Blood was NUTS!! Every page, I was like, “no, she didn’t! what the…”

    • I loved Inheritance. She writes so beautifully and honestly.

  117. Rue says...

    Delightful and/or breathtaking books I’ve read recently:

    Multiple Choice by Alejandro Zambra
    Little Labors by Rivka Galchen
    What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons
    Transit by Rachel Cusk
    The Wanderers by Meg Howrey

  118. Jessica Mailloux says...

    I never wanted Normal People to end!!! I love that you shared it with your daughters. Sometimes when I get sad about my babies growing up I think about the future and how we’ll be able to share things like books and it makes me feel (a tiny bit) better!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      sweetest comment <3

    • Bates says...

      Yes.

  119. Sarah says...

    Thank you for these recommendations–I just put most of these on hold at my library (since it would seem others are just as excited about them as I am…I’m #84 on 14 copies of Normal People!). I’m glad for the wait lists, though, since I FINALLY decided to get started on The Goldfinch. I’m really enjoying it, which is good since I think I’ll be reading it for a little while :) PS: some others I’ve really enjoyed lately include The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood, and The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware.

    • I just requested Normal People and my library (in Minneapolis) has 737 requests on 63 copies. Our wait lists are INSANE!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      omg wow, lisa!!!! must be lots of passionate readers in MN, that’s cool :)

    • Amy says...

      Just put Normal People on hold at my library in Portland, Oregon. I’m #480 for 84 copies. :-)

    • Rheeds says...

      The Goldfinch – now there’s a book that could have just been the first half and still been perfect….

    • Ro says...

      For those of you in the long queue for Normal People, you should totally read Conversations with Friends from the same author while you wait! SO GOOD

    • Bethany says...

      And now I’m 249 on 49 copies in Columbus, OH!

    • emily says...

      I’m number 73 in Berkeley! I love putting books on hold with a long wait list at the library. When they show up, I’ve usually forgotten about them and then it’s like a gift from past me to now me!

    • I loved Priestdaddy! Such a good book! I loved her humor.

  120. melz says...

    Small Great Things -Jodi Picoult

  121. Sarah says...

    A few recent favorites…

    The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui (graphic novel memoir about a family’s journey of immigration from war-torn Vietnam–SO GOOD!).

    Inheritance by Dani Shapiro (another memoir, about a woman’s wrestling with identity and legacy of painful family secrets after a genealogy website used on a whim reveals her father was not her biological father).

    Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (echoing other commenters on their enjoyment of this lush, poetic story).

    Virgil Wander by Leif Enger (whimsical and warm, with a touch of magical realism).

    Circe by Madeline Miller (an imaginative and unexpectedly moving retelling of the mythical goddess’ story),

    Thanks, Cup of Jo team, for always providing fabulous new book recommendations just in the nick of time!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, loved crawdads! and i’ve heard such glowing reviews of circe.

    • We are book twins! I just finished and loved Inheritance, I just picked up The Best We Could Do (Obama loved it so it must be great!), and I’m currently reading Where the Crawdads Sing!

    • Lucy says...

      Lief Enger!! Peace Like a River will forever and always be my favorite book. I’ve also read his second book and enjoyed it, although I couldn’t have loved it as much as the first. Every year or so I check to see if he has a new book out and I’m disappointed. So I am DELIGHTED to see your note about his new book, which I hadn’t heard of! Going to get it from my library today. Thank you!

  122. Eloise says...

    I don’t read much non-fiction but devoured Bad Blood about Elizabeth Holmes/Theranos.

    • GoBlueMom says...

      YES – sooooo good! Excited to listen to the podcast (The Dropout) and watch the Netflix special next.

  123. Elena Tartaglia says...

    Enjoyable things I’ve read lately:
    – The Feather Thief – A non-fiction account of a young guy who stole bird specimens from a British natural history museum and sold them to fishing fly hobbyists. (Also the subject of a riveting This American Life episode)
    – My Sister the Serial Killer- A quick, fun read
    – How to Murder Your Life – Say what you will, but Marnell is a good writer
    – Salt Fat Acid Heat – I love to read cookbooks
    – (Also putting in another rec for Where the Crawdad’s Sing)
    And I’m currently reading Min Jin Lee’s Free Food for Millionaires.

  124. Christina says...

    A gazillion times yes to Normal People! I’m halfway through it and I literally woke up
    In the middle of the night last night thinking about the two main characters. Could not love this book more, really don’t want it to end.

  125. Amy says...

    Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira Lee. Couldn’t put it down!!

  126. Amy says...

    I just read Becoming, Lilac Girls, and This is How It Always Is. Each book was so moving in its own unique way! I have The Great Believers almost available from the library and can’t wait to dive in!

    • Sarah says...

      This is How It Always Is, YES. Stayed up late one night to finish it, in tears. I read it months ago and still think about it. Since it is loosely based on the author’s own family, I would LOVE CoJ to interview the author on motherhood for that one!

    • Laura says...

      I second the interview suggestion with the author of This is how it always is. What a great read that was!

  127. jeannie says...

    I loved “The Great Believers”!

  128. Katrijn says...

    Awesome, love the recommendations, and that all of these are women authors!

  129. Libbynan says...

    I read Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss by Rajeev Balasubramanyam a couple of weeks ago and can’t stop thinking about it. It’s a weird, funny book that covers so much. I can’t really explain why, but
    I love it.

    • Val says...

      I need to pick this up. Thanks for the recommendation.

  130. E. says...

    Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is one of the best short story collections I’ve read in a long time. It’s brutal, vivid, and intense. The stories address Black identity and complex social dynamics with a dystopian tint. I read it a few months ago and still think about it often.

  131. Hayley says...

    Thank you to the people who recommended Station Eleven in the previous book thread. I loved it and still think about it.

  132. Elizabeth R. says...

    The Great Believers is perfection. Some books that are being released this Spring and Summer that I am looking forward to are:

    Mrs Everything

    The Summer We Lost Her

    Strangers and Cousins

    Tell Me Everything

    The Swallows

    The Flatshare

    Ask Again, Yes

    The Other’s Gold

    Very Nice

    The Paper Wasp

    City of Girls

    The Unbreakables

    Three Women

    The Most Fun We Ever Had

    Dual Citizens

    Lifelines

    Necessary People

    Big Sky

    Permanent Record

    The Turn of the Key

    How Could She

    Marilou is Everywhere

    We Are All Good People Here

    Devotion

    The Summer Demands

    Searching for Sylvie Lee

    Gravity Is the Thing

    The Learning Curve

    Star Crossed

    The Last of the Stanfields (already been release

    Lady Lake

    The Last Book Party

    The Floating Feldmans

    Doxology

    • Molly says...

      I just found about ten new titles to add to my list of books to read – thank you!

  133. Amanda says...

    “I Miss You When I Blink” was one of those books I held off cracking open as long as I could (2 weeks) because I knew I would devour it. I finally caved the last day of vacation and it made the two days post-vacation a lot more enjoyable.

  134. Kelly says...

    The Great Believers is soooo good. one of those books that made me truly sad when it ended, because I missed being in the characters’ lives.

    just ordered normal people and southern lady code!

  135. Wendy says...

    I am reading The Overstory by Richard Powers. I liked the first third a lot but it’s so. very. long.

  136. annie says...

    i just finished the great believers. what a TREMENDOUS book. she’s wonderful.
    and unaccustomed earth is the only jhumpa lahiri book that makes me cry. even on rereading. it is so beautiful.

    • p. says...

      The last story in Unaccustomed Earth has stayed with me for years.

    • annie says...

      P., YES. that is exactly the story i’m talking about. <3

  137. Katie says...

    I just started The Overstory by Richard Powers, and have been devouring it so far. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read, and his writing is breathtaking. I was very excited to see Ruth Reichl and Jumpha Lahiri as recommendations; I absolutely love both of Lahiri’s short story collections, and binge-read (that’s a thing, right?!) Reichl’s essay collections a few years ago. I have Save Me the Plums on my list, but will probably either read Conversations With Friends or The Parisian (Isabella Hammad) next. I’ll be combing through this article’s comments for more suggestions, too. :)

    • sandi says...

      Reading The Overstory by Richard Powers on Audible. The way the author navigates the roots (“-sorry, can’t help myself-“) of personal relationships and their compatability with trees is over-the-top creative.

    • Jodi says...

      I’m reading The Overstory right now, too. I’m generally not a fan of short stories, but these stand-alone chapters are each so good! Maybe the thread running through them is enough, I don’t know, but his writing is beautiful.

  138. Stephanie says...

    I’m reading The Good Immigrant, a collection of short stories written by immigrants and it’s so wonderful. As an immigrant myself and the daughter of immigrants, so many of the stories are relatable. Highly recommend.

  139. Thanks for the recommendations, always my favourite post. Just finished “The Great Alone” by Kristin Hannah- loved it!

    • Nancy says...

      I was pretty disappointed by The Great Alone. It started out so well, then kind of devolved into schlocky romance. I know a lot of people loved it, but maybe I just had the wrong expectations for the book.

  140. Andrea says...

    thank you!

    I’m feeling a bit down on this gloomy, overcast day but I ordered a few books (both of Caroline’s recs) and now I’m feeling a bit better :) Nice to have a good book to look forward too!

  141. celeste says...

    Trevor Noah’s book was incredible. Currently audiobooking Bryan Cranston’s memoir, which opens with the most horrifying scene featured in Breaking Bad.

  142. Lauren E. says...

    ANYTHING Ruth Reichl writes I will read. I read my first book of hers on a trip to Paris and inhaled everything else I could find by her. She’s amazing.

    I just finished Daisy Jones and The Six which I cannot rave about enough. I recommended it to my mom and she texted me, “Just finished Daisy. I want to be her.”

    • Eloise says...

      I lived Daisy Jones, too! I pretty much devoured it!

  143. Marisa says...

    Thanks to your recommendation, Joanna, I just read “The Maid”. It was SO good!!! Really one of the best books I’ve read in a long time!

  144. Robin says...

    I loved Save Me the Plums! I recently picked up Jane Mount’s Bibliophile and devoured it. Using her lists as guidance I have started reading books I’ve never read before- currently Just Kids and Annie John. Bibliophile is great fun and if you love reading books about books, you won’t be disappointed!

  145. AY says...

    Always one of my fav topics! It’s so great to get some new recommendations. I am anxiously awaiting a copy of “Normal People” because I have heard so many great things. I am currently finishing up “My Sister, the Serial Killer” by Oyinkan Braithwaite, and it. is. AMAZING. So funny and dark. (Thanks for the rec Joanna!!)
    Other books on my list for the Spring/Summer: “Trust Exercise” by Susan Choi, and “Three Women” by Lisa Taddeo, which doesn’t come out until July, but I have already heard such great reviews that I pre-ordered!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      so glad you’re enjoying it! and i’m excited for normal people, too (i LOVED conversations with friends).

  146. Jill says...

    I am about half way through Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I can’t wait to get home from work so I can keep reading it.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes!!!! just finished that one, too. loved her character and the beautiful descriptions of nature.

    • Patricia says...

      I have 40’s pages left and cannot wait to put my kids to bed tonight so I can finish!

  147. Hilary says...

    I just finished The Last Mrs. Parrish and loved it! Definitely recommend for those that enjoy psychological thrillers.

  148. Kate says...

    Ragged Company by Richard Wagamese. Canadian fiction by a beautiful First Nations man with incredible stories that need to be heard.

    All I can say is: Life changing.

    • Celine says...

      Yes! I have just finished it and I loved it too! Looking forward to reading more books of this author now.

    • Kimberly Spencer says...

      Was just talking about Richard Wagamese’s books to my husband this morning, he is next on our reading list! The movie Indian Horse based on his book is a must see as well!