Design

Five Big Fall Books

Five Fall Books

Are you reading anything right now? October is a great time to hunker down and cozy up with a book. To that end, here are five new titles the Cup of Jo team has been loving lately…

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
“Elizabeth Strout is easily one of my favorite authors. You’ll be reading the story, just humming along, and then all of a sudden, she’ll hit you with a heartbreaking moment or beautiful insight that makes you gasp. This is the second installment in her Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge series (did you see the fantastic TV version?), which follows Olive as she navigates her second marriage and a new decade in a seaside town in Maine. The first book is wonderful, but you don’t need to have read it to enjoy this one. As Olive Kitteridge said, “There’s no such thing as a simple life”; Strout’s characters are flawed but human, and it makes you love them so much more.” — Joanna

Excuse Me by Liana Finck
“Though I am, by all accounts, a ‘words person,’ sometimes it’s nice to shake things up in the book department. Lately, this volume of wisely wry drawings by cartoonist, memoirist, and frequent New Yorker contributor Liana Finck has been a welcome change of pace. This book boasts 400 pages of illustrated goodness, organized into sections about love and dating, humanity, animals, gender politics, emotions and more. You can read it in order, by topic, or flip to a random page and see what you find. (Too tired to read before bed? Not with this book!) Sometimes I laugh or nod my head in recognition, and other times, I marvel at how an image can manage to make me feel so understood. Sometimes a picture is indeed worth a thousand words.” — Caroline

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
“I’m only two chapters into Ann Patchett’s new novel, but I feel confident telling you to pick up a copy ASAP. We’re talking Ann Patchett here! The mega-selling author of Bel Canto, State of Wonder (my favorite) and Commonwealth, among others, writes the kind of prose I crave: simple, unfussy, yet somehow powerful enough to suck you deeply into the characters and their complicated webs almost immediately. In The Dutch House, we hear the story of two siblings growing up in a grand historical house in mid-century Philadelphia. It’s told from the grown-up son’s point of view many years later, after their mother has abandoned them, their father dies, and they are left with a wicked stepmother. Sound like some hackneyed plot you’ve heard before? Never doubt Patchett — you know you’re in good hands.” — Jenny

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
“I loved reading The Handmaid’s Tale (far more than watching the TV show) and was excited for the sequel. I like following stories where all the characters are subtly connected, and the chapters are short, so it’s easy to read before bed or between subway stops. The book picks up fifteen years after Handmaid’s left off, and follows three women linked to Gilead — one young girl from a powerful family, one very powerful figure from Gilead, and one member of the rebellion against it. As a funny aside, I accidentally ordered the large print edition (because I wanted a paperback), prompting my husband to ask, ‘What are you reading, Goosebumps?’ when he looked over and saw the gigantic size of the font. But I’ve been flying through the pages!” — Maureen

I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying by Bassey Ikpi
“I picked up this book after hearing the author speak on The Read, one of my favorite podcasts. These 22 personal essays are told from the author’s perspective — as the reader, you’re inside her head, looking out from her eyes, feeling her brain and body’s reaction to things. Bassey Ikpi was born in Nigeria and grew up in Oklahoma (like I did) and she writes a lot about Brooklyn (where I live now). I read the first half of it in a day and sobbed with recognition. She also writes about her experience growing up undiagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder and anxiety. There were nuanced descriptions about childhood and family dynamics that I didn’t think anyone else had experienced. A wonderful exploration of the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of who we are.” — Kim

What are you reading right now? Have you loved anything lately? Please share!

P.S. More favorite books, including 10 timeless thrillers and what’s your book type?

  1. Sara says...

    I just finished Exhalation by Ted Chiang and I immediately got on here to post and say IT WAS SO GOOD.

    A beautiful, thought provoking collection of science fiction short stories. Some of them reminded me of the best episodes of Black Mirror that stay with you long after they are over.

  2. JH says...

    I used to read Bassey Ikpi wayyyy back in the day when she had an old fashioned blog and always found her writing completely engrossing. Can’t wait to read this book of hers!

  3. Amber says...

    Stop whatever you’re doing and go get a copy of ‘This Is How It Always Is’ by Laurie Frankel. It is hands down the best book I’ve read in a very long time.

  4. Amy says...

    I love NOS4A2, a thriller by Joe Hill. On a mystery/horror kick right now!

  5. Marie says...

    My favorite reads this year:

    1. Ask Again, Yes (one of my favorite books of the last decade)
    2. Circe
    3. Welcome to the Good Squad

    Can’t WAIT to read the next Olive Kittredge book! I heart that salty old character. :)

  6. The audio version of The Dutch House narrated by TOM HANKS is PERFECTION!

  7. Cordelia says...

    Three Women is a beautiful and powerful read. I couldn’t put it down. Highly recommend!!

  8. NS says...

    Ta-nehisi Coates’s new novel “The water Dancer” is nothing short of incredible. Read it now!!

  9. Thank you for the recommendations. At the moment I’m completely immersed in ‘An American Marriage’ which I heard about here on Cup of Jo x

  10. Christine says...

    I just finished “maybe you should talk to someone” and I *really* enjoyed it!! It felt like going to therapy and gave me such good perspective on life. Right now I’m reading “leaving time” by Jodi Picoult and I absolutely love it so far!

  11. K.C. says...

    I just finished Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow in less than a day. It reads like a thriller and was so powerful. I’m currently reading The Water Dancer. A series that I blew through in a few weeks was The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley. I was obessed. Each book is about a different adopted women in a family of sisters and set in a different part of the world. There’s also an underlying mystery threading the books together.

  12. Mairead says...

    Skin Deep by Liz Nugent – so gripping and unexpected

    Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and other Lies by Scarlett Curtis – a collection of essays that I’ve really enjoyed dipping into every now and then. Keira Knightley’s essay -WOW

  13. K says...

    Love these book suggestions! Especially the new Ann Patchett, absolutely adding to my “read next” list.

    I am a new mom this year – sneaking in reading during my baby boy’s naps has been a lovely treat to myself:). In the last year, two books that made my laugh out loud then have teary catharsis were “Less” and “Fleishman is in trouble” (though if you’re looking for more laughs – “The Rosie Project” was super funny). I am currently loving “The Overstory,” but agree with other readers that I am taking this one more slowly-so beautiful and evocative. As one who enjoys reading, I loved the recent post about how to raise a reader-I cannot wait to teach my kiddo about the wonders of reading. It’s better than Calgon at taking me away;)

  14. Beth says...

    My immediate family are spread around the country/world right now so we want to do a virtual book club (2 brothers aged 21/25 + my sister 28 + me 30 + our parents). My mom, sister and I read “The Great Alone” and want to expand to include to guys. Any good suggestions on a fiction read that would be good for that crowd?

    • Emily says...

      Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles was a great read and both men and women in my life loved it. I have a book club with my best friends from college and it has become one of my favorite things! It amid a great way to stay in contact even when we are not physically close.

    • patricia blaettler says...

      Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson. Deadly hurricane in Galveston around the turn of the century. Beautifully told.

  15. Cin says...

    Love….
    Conservative Victory… Dana Perino
    And the Good News is, Bret Baier
    Tucker Carlson writes well too, his books.
    As well Audio versions so I can do my needlework.

  16. Angela says...

    I just finished “After the Flood” by Kassandra Montag. It was the first “Library’s Transform” book club pick, so I saw it. There should be unlimited digital copies if your library uses Libby or OverDrive and you borrow before Oct. 21st. I highly recommend it and thought it was so on point with what we are currently facing with climate change. WOW! So excited to look through these comments and add some new books to me “to read” list!

  17. MB says...

    I didn’t know there was a new Anne Patchett! Drop everything…..

    I just finished Warlight – the writing was so beautiful and the way the story unfolded was really unique.

  18. Such a great list! I’m excited for fall reading. I read an ARC (an advantage of being an author ;)) of Olive, Again and I loved it. I’m a big Strout fan. Can’t wait for Patchett’s new one! The best book I’ve read in the past few weeks was The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall.

  19. Kara Hagerty says...

    I would highly recommend the Dutch House. I breezed through it and was very sad for it to end. I’ve read several of her books and this might be my favorite. There was something about the characters and the story that I haven’t been able to shake since I finished, like an intimate connection.

  20. Hanna says...

    I’m nearing the end of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, which I’d always wanted to read but never gotten around to. It been well worth it. I’ll probably read it again. And to everybody’s surprise, I laughed out loud a few times reading it. It turns out that everyone has common frustrations, even Roman emperors.

    Other recent reads that I really enjoyed:
    The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal. If you’re a woman in a STEM field, dig in and enjoy!

    I also tried out Tom Robbins for the first time recently, starting with Jitterbug Perfume. Haven’t decide if I like it or not yet, but it was striking.

  21. Neva Leigh says...

    A great British book published by Tin House Books in 2019 is The Orphan of Salt Winds by Elizabeth Brooks. Switches in time from 1940’s to 2015 -the house Salt Winds is like a character in this book – very well written.

  22. Paula says...

    I’ve just finished reading 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak and loved it! Can’t believe I hadn’t read anything from Elif before. The book starts by describing all the memories and thoughts arising in the last 10min 38 secs after a woman’s death – but while her brain is still working. The main character is a woman known as Tequila Leila, a prostitute living in Istanbul, and the author’s descriptions of places, people and memories are so beautiful and nostalgic.

  23. Leah says...

    I love autumn for snuggling up with a new book! I’ve just finished blink (Malcolm gladwell) and started the island of sea woman (Lisa see).

  24. Alissa says...

    I’m on my HONEYMOON and still tore through “Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was A Girl” by Jeannie Vanasco. The author bravely explores the pain, complexity, and gendered nuances that accompany rape by a close friend. The reader is on the journey with her as she reaches out to this friend and has multiple conversations with him, trying to understand his actions and figure out how to express her many feelings, including anger. A must read for women.

  25. Marjorie says...

    My favorites from this year so far:

    Exit West
    The Power
    The Culture Map
    Song of Achilles
    The Testaments
    Calypso
    Little Fires Everywhere

    All fiction except for The Culture Map and Calypso (which made me laugh out loud!).

    P.S. My first CoJ comment ever :) after reading for years!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you for your comment, marjorie!!! so nice to have you here. i loved exit west, too.

    • Robin S. says...

      Welcome to the web’s best comment section, Marjorie!

    • Joyce says...

      Thank you for sharing! Thoroughly enjoying it

  26. Alice says...

    I’ve just finished Expectation by Anna Hope and LOVED IT. It’s very relatable for someone in their late twenties living in London, but I think it would transcend location too!!

    Other recent reads: The Poisonwood Bible (INCREDIBLE), and Everything I Never Told You (which I enjoyed but found somewhat predictable- I liked Little Fires Everywhere more!). And next on my list are A Woman Looking At Men Looking At Women, and The Alice Network!

  27. agnes says...

    I’m in the middle of reading Handmaid’s tale, I’m not a fan at all of dystopian novels but there is so much talking about it! It is fascinating and terrible (haven’t seen the serie, not planning to). I’m ordering Circe and The Dutch House, thank you so much! What could I recommend you, from France? If you don’t know Annie Ernaux, you could read The Years; her writing is unique, based on her life but in a very literary way. She’s a feminist writer and has written a lot about how women’s lives have changed since the 60s. An article from the Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/apr/06/annie-ernaux-interview-the-years-memoir-man-booker-international

  28. Amy says...

    Some recent good reads..
    The Weekend, by Charlotte Wood
    The Water Dancer, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
    Coventry, by Rachel Cusk
    Death is Hard Work, by Khaled Khalifa

  29. Kaitlin says...

    I fiercely adored Normal People this year, after you and so many other people described it to me. I loved how it was paced, like everyday life.

    I’ve not otherwise read a lot of published fiction — my husband is a writer, so I’m often reading and commenting on his drafts. But, in non-fiction, The Way We Eat Now by Bee Wilson is a fascinating look at the modern food world and how it has caused environmental, social, and human health ills, while at the same time making many of us more food secure than we could have possibly imagined 100 years ago.

    I do want to mention, however, that I’m a bit disappointed to see Margaret Atwood on this list, and yet no hoorays or nods to Bernardine Evaristo (Girl, Woman, Other), who shared the Booker Prize with her. I’m also disappointed to see all the praise that The Testaments is getting – given that it is a book with a strong second-wave feminist lens – despite the fact that Atwood wrote and signed a letter supporting a man accused of sexually assaulting his students at the University of British Columbia. In 2019, we can no longer separate the morals of an author from the those of the characters that they right about. If you’d like to know more, there’s a wonderful breakdown on Flare: https://www.flare.com/news/margaret-atwood-feminism/

    I’m sure this comment won’t get published, and that’s fine. I just wish that COJ editors had scratched the surface a bit more before getting psyched about a favourite who is problematic and really doesn’t need anymore promotion than she already has. (Feel free, though, to edit this last paragraph out, should you decide to publish the comment. xo )

    • agnes says...

      If we didn’t separate the artist from the work we would have very little to read! (and very mediocre). Works of art have little to do with how we live our lives. Funny to read “i’m every woman”, liv strömquist, and discover that Münch was a terrible person, aswell as Pollock. What about Victor Hugo or Baudelaire? They have made the most wonderful pieces of art. It’s important to keep a distance between the work and the person. Margaret Atwood is probably struggling to make the right choices, just like everybody else, but she is a fantastic writer.
      Again, bravo CupofJo team, to be such great editors, you do your job so well!

    • Robin says...

      Thank you for sharing this. I wondered if anyone would bring it up. While MA was a big part of my reading life in my twenties, after that letter, I could no longer read her work.

    • Rebekah says...

      I actually strongly disagree with Agnes and believe that the artist influences their art (clearly) and so separation of the two is not a worthy goal. There are many, many artmakers (many qualified judges, many actors capable of keeping hands to themselves, etc) to fill the gaps that might be left when we remove adulation and adoration from problematic people.

  30. Michaela says...

    Does anyone have any light hearted books to recommend? Our family has been going through a tough time and I would really love something enjoyable to escape into. Thanks!

    • Nora says...

      My tough-time light reads are anything by Marion Keyes and most things by Liane Moriarty.

      Or I reread Seabiscuit.

      Good luck!

    • Kathy says...

      I’m sorry your family is going through a tough time. 💗
      My sister is also going through a very tough time and just finished “The Flatshare” by Beth O’Leary and just loved it.

    • STACY OREFICE says...

      Rules for visiting. Light-ish but, touching

    • Katy says...

      I recently read summer of ‘69. Not all the topics are “light” but the writing is breezy. I am sorry you are having a hard time

    • Fiona says...

      David Sedaris will have you in fits of laughter. Calypso is his most recent one and had me laughing out aloud. They are all short personal essays and very easy to read.

    • Melanie Thompson says...

      I loved Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered. I laughed out loud probably 3x per chapter!!

    • Divya says...

      I’m with you <3

      I've been enjoying Sophie Kinsella's standalone books (not the Shopaholic series). Some favorites are My Not So Perfect Life – just finished reading it a second time – and Twenties Girl. The characters always get into the most fantastic scrapes and they're quite funny. Definitely an escape :)

    • Mimi says...

      Hi, I totally understand, I too have had a hard couple of years with family issues. I really enjoyed : Stars over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner. It’s about female friendship during the time when Gone with the Wind is being filmed and the years onward with the two women- historical fiction. Another is a mystery with humor and Southern fun– Bless her dead little heart by Miranda James.

    • Janesfriend says...

      Hi Michaela,
      If you haven’t read The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion it might be worth a try – it’s about a man with Aspergers who struggles with relationships, and its a good story, very light hearted and funny. And if you like it there are also two sequels that are a pleasure to read.
      I have been reading Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb, which is a memoir by a therapist about therapy, I found it fascinating and uplifting, but it’s probably not really escapist.
      I hope everything gets better for you soon!

    • Suzanne says...

      Some say it is rubbish, and you need to get in too it, but I loved loved loved the seven sister serie.
      Start the first book and keep reader till at least 100 pages in. Then it will get you and you will read all seven books.
      Sending love to your family. Xo

    • Bonnie says...

      Not sure if you are a fan of Ali Wong, but her book was just released this week and it’s hilarious (but on the raunchy side…)!

    • Laura says...

      I just read “I miss you when I Blink” by Mary Laura Philpott, and it made me laugh and was comforting. Try it maybe? When I’m having a hard time, I reread P&P or Anne of the Island and I almost always feel better.

    • Natalie says...

      I just finished reading ‘everything I know about love’ by dolly alderton. It was a quick read but really funny, nuanced and emotional. Highly recommend!

    • Adele says...

      I had a similar need some months back and a friend recommended Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani. The title refers to the character, Valentina, co-manager of her grandmother’s New York based custom-made Italian shoe shop. Gorgeous descriptions of shoes, fabric, colors, foods, New York and Italy. Simple and restorative, which is what I wanted when I was feeling fried.

    • Bethany says...

      Elin Hilderbrand’s books are my favorite escapism books. She writes about Nantucket, where I’ve never been, and I just love her descriptions of the food and natural beauty there. It’s truly a glimpse into a different, fabulous world for me.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’m so sorry your family is going through a tough time, michaela. sending you love today. and for a lighthearted read, i laughed my way through jessi klein’s book of essays, You’ll Grow Out Of It:
      https://cupofjo.com/2016/07/jessi-klein-youll-grow-out-of-it/

      xoxo

    • MB says...

      Take care of yourselves. ‘Less’ won the Pulitzer last year and was so amusing, and similarly I really enjoyed ‘French Exit’ recently.

    • Quinn says...

      Sorry you’re going through a tough time, Michaela. Some of my recommendations for enjoyable escapes are Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld (a very funny modern take on Pride & Prejudice), The Kiss Quotient, Maria Semple’s books, and Heartburn by Nora Ephron. I hope things get easier for you soon.

    • Astrid says...

      I just finished “The Summer Seaside Kitchen” from Jenny Colgan and loved it. Light hearted and a perfect distraction. Every day after work I came home, and all I wanted was to read this book. I’m looking forward to read her other books.

  31. Katie says...

    Lucky to have come across Esme Weijun Wang’s essays The Collected Schizophrenias. I normally love the wonderful escape of fiction. I veered off course for reasons close to home. Found at my local library, this is an authentically written account from a well-educated woman living with a severe mental illness. She provides an opportunity to light the way on a subject that is so often mysterious and left hidden from view.

    • Robin says...

      I could not put this book down. Truly one of the best books I have read this year. It’s so smart and wry and made my heart grow bigger. Thank you for mentioning it!

  32. Julie says...

    In the fall I can start to see what my highlights of my reading year are and what’s going to make it to my 2019 recommended reading list, here are six of those I wish everyone would read!

    My fall book recs are:
    How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones
    Breathe: A Letter to My Sons by Imani Perry
    The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall

    From earlier in the year:
    Deep Creek by Pam Houston
    Black is the Body by Emily Bernard
    Brown White Black by Nishta Mehra

    And Circe by Madeline Miller is amazing, but also check out The Song of Achilles.

    • Suzanne says...

      I’m right in the middle of The Dearly Beloved and loving it!

    • Elizabeth R says...

      I went to college with Saed, and was even in some English classes with him. So exciting to see how far he has come.

  33. Katie O says...

    I cannot say enough good things about Good Talk by Mira Jacob! It’s a graphic novel memoir about her grappling with race in America through her perspective as an Indian American raising a biracial son, particularly in light of the 2016 election. It’s such an important conversation, and it’s also hilarious (though I recognize the subject matter wouldn’t seem hilarious at first glance…). I couldn’t put it down and finished it in a day.

  34. Pailey says...

    I’ve been on a reading kick this year, and am finishing up the New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.

    Next up on my reading list are:
    The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates (saw him speak earlier this week in SF, and wow!)
    Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
    How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
    Winner Takes All by Anand Giridharadas

    Some of my more memorable books recently read are:
    Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee (author of Pachinko!)
    Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
    American Prison by Shaun Bauer (first hand experience of an investigative journalist who works undercover at an private prison)
    There There by Tommy Orange
    The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

  35. K says...

    I read Home Fire because of you guys and it was astounding. Then I read Antigone because of that. I also read An American Marriage because of you guys, and Circe, and Conversation with Friends and Normal People. And Three Women. I’m currently reading How to Win Friends and Influence People.

    My favorite books of this year so far: Confederacy of Dunces, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Home Fire

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’m so glad!!! i adored home fire and an american marriage. circe is next on my list for sure xoxo

    • Kate says...

      I was lucky enough to read A Tree Grows In Brooklyn at about age 12 and it remains my favourite book of all time! I revisit it every 5 years ago and you’ve reminded me that my next read is overdue. You have a great list – loved An American Marriage and both of Sally Rooney’s books. Will need to check out the others!

    • Elizabeth R says...

      A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is my favorite book ever.

  36. I just started “Running with Scissors” and even though it’s been out for ages (2002 I think), I recommend if you haven’t read it but enjoyed Tara Westover’s ”Educated” (or just enjoy memoirs written incredibly well).

  37. T says...

    Just finished “Fleishman is in Trouble” — LOVED!

  38. I’ve been enjoying non-fiction/self-help books recently, including “Find Your Artistic Voice” by Lisa Congdon, “The Crossroads between Should and Must” by Elle Luna, and “Start” by Jon Acuff. I’d love more positive, “you can do it!” sort of books right now.

    • Sara says...

      I love Lisa Congdon! I didn’t know she had a new book out — just put it on my library hold list. So glad I read this comment.

  39. LK says...

    My neighbor, a lawyer, suggested The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore – it was AWESOME. It’s about the legal fight between Westinghouse, Edison, and Tesla – but is fiction. So good.

    I also just read Tin Man, by Sarah Winman, which is a love story. Quite short and very beautiful.

    Halfway through The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne – i’m listening during my hour commute to work. You can’t help but love and hate the main character (a gay man in Ireland in the 70’s).

    • Z says...

      I’m reading the Heart’s Invisible Furies too! I’m in the early stages of the book but liking it so far. I hope it lives up to the hype!

    • Midge says...

      Chapter Two of The Heart’s Invisible Furies was one of my favorite things I’ve ever read. Great read.

    • Julie says...

      Tin Man is underrated, it’s soooo good!!

    • M2M says...

      Tin Man was everything I want in fiction – deeply sad in a good way.

    • Sam says...

      Tin Man is one of my most memorable reads of the year. So tender and moving. I let my daughter watch extra TV after nap so I could finish it. Couldn’t bear to put it down!

  40. Kate says...

    I feel like ‘The Testaments’ is a case of the Emperors New Clothes. I wanted to love it, I loved Handmaiden’s and Allias Grace, but was so disappointed by Testaments.

    There is so much hype for it, but it fell down for me in so many areas, even the CoJ review talks about big font and the plot rather than how excellent the writing/story is….

    • Sylvie says...

      I absolutely loved it…not expecting to. Guess you just never know!

  41. Lauren E. says...

    A few recent (and not so recent…) books I highly recommend are:

    The Turner House by Angela Flournoy
    Elizabeth Street by Laurie Fabiano
    Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

    • Laura says...

      I loved Station Eleven!!

  42. China says...

    Just want to say I cannot wait to sit down at my computer later and make a long list of books to get from this comment thread. This community is the best!

    • Christine says...

      Right?!

    • Bryn says...

      Amen!!!

    • Aya says...

      I’m doing this right now! Toggling between my library request tab and this. Thank you everyone for all the wonderful recommendations! I was feeling in a bit of a rut.

  43. Denuse says...

    A few older books but still favourites of mine, “Larry’s Party” by Carol Shields, “A Good House” by Bonnie Burnard and my most favourite “The Birth House” by Ami McKay about a midwife in rural Nova Scotia at the start of WWII…all Canadian books but so am I, lol.

  44. I’m reading “The Bookish Life of Nina Hill,” and just as when I was reading Abbi Waxman’s previous book, “The Garden of Small Beginnings,” I find myself laughing out loud on the train and nodding in recognition. The prose is sharp but flows easily.

  45. Jane says...

    I have a dirty little secret– I’m a librarian and I don’t like to read fiction. It just (almost always) is so boring to me. Instead, I’ve always liked reading for the purpose of learning about something– how to cook, how the world works, how someone lived their life, etc.

    Curling up with a good thriller or mystery sounds fun, but I’ve been trying to get into “Still Life” by Louise Penny (it had great reviews?!) for months now. I think I’ve restarted it at least ten times. I just can’t get interested. Any recommendations for a hopeless soul? ;)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      you might try All The Light We Cannot See. It’s SUCH a beautifully written book with cliffhangers at almost every chapter. and it’s historical fiction, so still is rooted somewhat in history. i highly recommend it. give it 15 pages and you’ll be hooked.

    • Julie says...

      For a fun twisty thriller/mystery, I really enjoyed Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall, Peter Swanson’s The Kind Worth Killing, Lianne Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret, and Victoria Helen Stone’s Jane Doe.

    • Erin says...

      I am a non-fiction-loving librarian, too! Have you ever read Ann Patchett’s This is the Story of a Happy Marriage? It’s delightful – all the great punch of Patchett’s fiction, but with a biography-twist. The story about her trying out for the LAPD was fascinating. Her Dad helped catch Charles Manson!

    • Colleen says...

      Gone Girl will throw you for a loop if you haven’t seen the movie

    • Julie says...

      I am the same way, I find most fiction predictable. Quite often I can guess endings in the first 20-50 pages…fiction I have enjoyed this year:
      -The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall (this is one of those over the lifetime friendship books where nothing and everything happens, but if you like questions on faith and doubt, it’d be a good try)
      -Circe or Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (based on greek mythology and fills in the gaps, so historical but also fictional)
      -This is How it Always Is (if you want to learn something, this is a beautiful story about a family with a transgender sister)

    • Midge says...

      Anthony Horowitz’s mysteries are fabulous — and the newer ones are mostly fiction with a little twist of facts from his real life.

    • Maria says...

      Thank you for asking this question. I feel the exact same way. Although there is so much amazing non-fiction out there – I just finished Calypso by David Sadaris and loved every single word.

    • Sara says...

      I second Joanna’s comment, that was one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read! Another really great but older read is One Thousand White Women, very good as well.

    • LLBR says...

      I second Joanna’s recommendation of All the Light We Cannot See.

  46. Jo says...

    Two amazing non fiction books.
    Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow, just brilliant. I have just finished listening to the audio book, and I will probably listen again at the weekend, its that good.
    And a short picture book: Equal to Everything, by Afua Hirsch and Henny Beaumont. Its about Lady Hale – she is kind of the UK equivalent of RBG, and she is a huge inspiration to many lawyers here.

  47. Irene says...

    I recently finished Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong — a short read but so good. I finished it in three nights, which feels like such a big feat for me (finishing books has been such a struggle for me since becoming a new mom). Highly recommend if you’re into dark family humor.

    I know people have mixed feelings about this book, but I also recently read and loved On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong.

    • Emily says...

      I loved Goodbye, Vitamin!

    • Quinn says...

      Oh I loved Goodbye, Vitamin too! :)

  48. Kareb says...

    Fall Break starts Saturday, and I have packed The Dutch House. I love Ann Patchett so much! My absolute favorite book of all time is hers- The Magician’s Assistant. It will change you.

    • Ashley says...

      oh!! I didn’t realize she wrote that! I loved that book, but was just sitting here thinking, “How come i’ve never read anything by her, if everyone thinks she’s so great?!” And now I know I have! And I agree! That book has STAYED with me!

  49. Mishe says...

    Just had a baby on Sunday & loving this long list of recommendations— excited for lots of reading/cozy time in the next few weeks. <3

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, congratulations, mishe! what is your baby’s name? xoxoxo

  50. Emily says...

    I just finished reading Inconspicuous Consumption by Tatiana Schlossberg about the environmental impacts of many major industries we utilize everyday. I was nervous to read it because I often feel hopeless or at a loss for what to do about climate change, but reading this book was a very empowering experience, I couldn’t put it down! There is so much incredible information, even weeks after finishing it I find myself mulling over some of the statistics. It gives you so much food for thought, I found it really enlightening, and feel better knowing that I understand the scope of the problem.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much, emily! this sounds like a great recommendation.

  51. Ingrid says...

    A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles is beautifully written. A friend of mine listened to the classical music referenced in the book while reading; I’ll do that when I read it again!
    Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave – beautiful.
    The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates – so moving.
    This is How it Always Is by Lauri Frankel – thoughtful and current
    Did You Ever Have a Family? by Bill Clegg – premise was off-putting to me at first but I loved the book.

    • Sara says...

      A Gentleman in Moscow is my current book club pick. Love the idea of listening to the book’s music while reading!

    • Kirsten says...

      Love these suggestions!!

  52. Jenn says...

    I just started Olive, Again ten minutes ago. I’m home sick with strep throat (yuck!) so first I binged in the HBO series before starting the sequel. It would be the perfect day if it weren’t for the fever and sore throat. Oh well, almost worth it to get to spend more time with Elizabeth Strout’s brilliant characters.

  53. Elizabeth says...

    I was fortunate enough to hear Ann Patchett speak last night at an event put on by my local bookstore. The auditorium was packed (with, by my estimate, 99% women) and abuzz with excitement the entire evening. As you’d expect, Ann Patchett was beyond delightful.

    She shared so many wise, beautiful, funny things, and I wrote up a few of them here, if any Patchett fans are interested: https://twitter.com/ElizSlavitt/status/1184857103992668160

    (I’m not sure if this is too self-promotional, but feel free to delete this comment if so!)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      wow, that’s so wonderful!

    • celeste says...

      Best use of Twitter I’ve ever seen. Twitter always seems like shouting into a hole – you told a story.

    • LLBR says...

      Your observations and captures of Ann Patchett’s comments at the event you attended are wonderful. Thank you for sharing — next best thing to being there!

    • Emily says...

      Thank you for this write-up, Elizabeth! I didn’t make it to the event, but after reading this, I feel like I was (almost) there. I love Ann Patchett too and cannot wait to read The Dutch House.

    • Gail says...

      Thanks for the link. Did she have anything to say about choosing the cover? It is so perfect.

    • justine says...

      Reading this was such a treat. I read State of Wonder this summer and loved it, and I really enjoyed Commonwealth, too. Thanks Elizabeth.

  54. Elise says...

    A few comments have already mentioned these, but DROP EVERYTHING and read Circe by Madeline Miller, or better yet, LISTEN to it! Amazing performance, incredible book, enjoyed by me (fiction fiend) and my husband (barely reads fiction).

    I also just finished The Dutch House and cried at the end, partly because it was so gorgeous, and partly because I was so sad it was over. LISTEN TO THIS ONE TOO! Tom Hanks reads it and it is utter perfection. I’m not even a huge Tom Hanks fan, but his performance was absolutely outstanding.

    There are some books that stay with you forever and for me, this is true with audio books especially. I think I will always remember listening to The Dutch House while washing dishes at my kitchen sink, night falling in the alley outside and my own reflection emerging on the windowpane. This book made me reflect on my own past, house, family, and life in ways I never have before. It took my breath away.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      what a beautiful comment, elise xo

    • Katherine says...

      And I just spent my monthly audible credit. After reading your description, I don’t want to listen to this book with my inner voice. Thanks for taking the time to share!

    • Mallory says...

      I’m about to hop on an 11-hour flight, so this is very timely. Thank you Elise!

    • I really liked Circe, which is such a nuanced exploration of a character that’s merely a brief side story in the Odyssey. I also loved Miller’s The Song of Achilles. Can’t wait to see what other myths she decides to focus on.

    • Ashley says...

      Jane, yes! I read both of Miller’s books this year, and found myself wishing for a new cat, one I could name Circe! Ha! Loved both of them.

      Elise, I am really NOT a fan of audiobooks but you’re making me rethink that!

    • justine says...

      I adored Circe, I love Ann Patchett, I have an available Audible credit, I haven’t read The Dutch House and I have two kids under 4 so buying the book seems unwise. Audible it is! I have so many vivid memories of reading great books. Thanks for the reco!

  55. After being a slack reader since high school, I’ve just gotten back into reading more again this year. Your recommendations and the comments section have really helped in finding my what my jam is with books again. My faves so far have been:
    – Home Fire
    – Conversations with Friends
    – The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
    – Pachinko
    – Becoming – Michelle Obama
    – My Sister The Serial Killer
    – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

  56. Kim says...

    I recently went down the Sally Rooney rabbit hole and now I’m obsessed with her writing. Conversations with Friends sucked me in so hard I read it in one day, which I haven’t done in quite awhile. It was such a joy, I read it again a few days later.

    Loved Fleishman is in trouble!

    I just started the highly anticipated Catch and Kill. It’s incredibly hard to put down.

  57. Quinn says...

    Thanks for this CoJ team! Love reading all the comments and adding to my library ‘holds’ list! :) My recent selections have been all over the map — happy to recommend these:
    – Case Histories (I’m late to the Kate Atkinson party)
    – Still Life (I’m late to the Louise Penny party too!)
    – There There by Tommy Orange
    – Where the Crawdads Sing (I was reluctant to read this because it seemed over-hyped, but I loved it)
    – Southern Lady Code (hilarious – thanks for the rec, CoJ!)
    – Madame Fourcade’s Secret War
    – Inheritance by Dani Shapiro
    And I’ll whole-heartedly second recommendations for The Great Believers!

  58. Rosie says...

    I was thinking today how I have been reading the Cup of Jo blog longer than I can remember. And now it feels like an old friend. It is strange how time passes and through a loving marriage and its ending, through welcoming new friends and saying goodbye to others, and through the constant change of life, one of my favorite places to be is sitting here with a large cup of tea reading this blog.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, that’s the nicest, nicest comment, rosie. thank you so much!

  59. Rosie says...

    I recommend She Said. It’s about how the NY Times investigation of Harvey Weinstein came together and the domino effect it had. The authors of the original article wrote it and it is a fascinating look at investigative journalism. To paraphrase a review off Amazon, it’s the All the President’s Men of the #MeToo movement.

  60. Maranda says...

    I have finished a few books recently that I have loved! Here are my recommendations:

    Evvie Drake Starts Over- Linda Holmes
    How to Walk Away- Katherine Center
    The Bookish Life of Nina Hill- Abbi Waxman
    I’m also working my way through the Harry Potter series. I haven’t read these books in several years, and I’m loving getting back into this magical world! The books are perfect fall reading.

    • LOVED Evvie Drake Starts Over, and I’m reading Nina Hill right now. Waxman’s previous book, “Garden of Small Beginnings,” was lovely as well.

    • Ancy says...

      You’re my book-soulmate, Maranda. I thought The Bookish Life of Nina Hill was the sweetest, sweetest book. And the Garden of Small Beginnings was brilliant as well.

  61. Anna Wagstaff says...

    Love these posts.

    I’m number 74 on my library’s list to get ‘The Dutch House.’ I did request it over a week ago…my friend requested it today and is number 143…

    • ANDREA says...

      Feel my pain:

      Hold placed on 10-03-2019
      Position 630 of 1189 in holds queue
      Library copies: 230

    • Anonygirl says...

      I LOVE libraries, but also get frustrated by the long waits, especially if I’m reading a series. I like to, whenever possible, binge a series, but so often, the library only has either a portion of the books (why do they buy book 1 and book 8, for example? Are books 2-7 not good enough?) or the wait is months and months.

  62. Jenny says...

    You must read Know My Name by Chanel Miller. It is by the woman we all knew as Jane Doe who was raped by the Stanford swimmer. Miller wrote a best-of-genre book about how the system is brutal to women but she could not be silenced.
    Three Women is about the sex lives of three really different woman and I gobbled it up in one late-night binge read.
    Sharon Olds has a new book of poetry out today!

  63. Sandra says...

    Has anyone read When We Believed in Mermaids? I am struggling to finish it for a book club. I REALLY didn’t like it (great premise, bad execution) but so many Amazon reviewers seem to love it. What am I missing???? I am trying to get back into reading more (hence joining a new book club), but I feel like so much fiction these days is kind of meh.

    • Julie says...

      I really struggle with fiction, but part of my reading for bookclub is less about “is this good” and more about “is this a good discussion book?” We all strongly disliked The Signature of All Things, but we discussed it for hours! I don’t trust goodreads reviews on books, so maybe that’s the same for you? You don’t like what other people love? (The House Girl is a NYT best seller and has great reviews on goodreads, but omg that book is not great).

      What Should I Read Next has a fun episode about books you don’t like but read anyway:

      https://modernmrsdarcy.com/201-episode/

    • Z says...

      I haven’t read that one but I feel your pain! I tried on 2 different occasions to read The Goldfinch and just couldn’t get through it. Everyone I know loves the book but I can’t get past the halfway mark.

  64. Emily says...

    Love these posts. I always end up with so many great recommendations. Does anyone else ever get anxiety about how many wonderful books there are and how little time they have to read? I’ve recently read and loved the following:
    All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
    The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker
    Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
    Normal People by Sally Rooney
    The Incendiaries by R. O. Kwon
    My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
    Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
    The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

    • Kelly says...

      I think we might have similar taste as many of these have been recent favorites of mine! I also enjoyed:

      The Most Fun We Ever Had (just optioned as an HBO series)
      Very Nice
      Fleishman is in Trouble
      Ohio by Stephen Markley
      Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win

      Love these posts, thank you!

    • JB says...

      All Our Wrong Todays is one of my favourites! So excited to read The Dreamers next.

    • Katie says...

      I just read The Dreamers and really enjoyed it! I also loved The Great Believers, My Sister the Serial Killer, Home Fire, and The Incendiaries. However, I think I’m in the minority in that I find Sally Rooney overrated! I am currently reading Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb. It’s really interesting!

    • Katie says...

      Oh, also just read Wild Game and it was amazing!

    • Ilka says...

      I find that one thing that helps me with my book anxiety is putting things in Goodreads under “Want to Read”…that way I know I’ll get to all of them eventually!

  65. Rachael says...

    Thank you for these amazing recs! I’m definitely putting I’M TELLING THE TRUTH on my list. I just finished SHE SAID (from the reporters who broke the Harvey Weinstein story)–highly recommend. Just started SOBER CURIOUS and KNOW MY NAME. These three are a lot heavier than my usual but they’ve been so illuminating and I think they’re necessary reading!

    • Emily says...

      I have Sober Curious on my waitlist! I read This Naked Mind by Annie Grace and really liked it. She’s a bit over the top for me, but it really made me reevaluate my relationship with alcohol.

  66. Definitely interested in the Dutch House, my partner and I just started a blog where we give our thoughts on a book and then cook a meal inspired by it. If that sounds intriguing please check it out!
    abitetoread.com
    The lasted post is about Tokyo Ueno Station, an exquisitely written Japanese novel about a man living on the streets of Tokyo (we made bento boxes based on the one he is given by a convenience store st the end of the night).

    • rose says...

      What a Great idea! Amazed I’ve never come across a blog like this before as the food connection in fiction is such a thing. When I was a tween I was caught up in super thick paperback historical fiction and the best ones always had vivid paragraphs describing food. In one story where the potato famine of Ireland featured I was so taken that I was obsessed with baked potatoes for weeks during and after reading it, haha. And I never enjoyed them more lol.
      I can’t wait to read through your blog, thank you!

      PS: remember when Like Water For Chocolate was released as a movie and all the restaurants made that full menu for Valentines? So fun!

    • Yes, I was a voracious reader as a child (including my mom’s cookbooks) and wanted to try the foods I read about, like Turkish delight from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and all the candy in Roald Dahl’s books. I think a writer needs a deft touch to make the world they create come alive and food is a great example of that. Thanks for reading, really appreciate it as a new blogger! I watched Like Water for Chocolate a few weeks ago for the first time and loved it :)

    • Frances says...

      You may be interested in Kate Young’s books: The Little Library Cookbook and The Little Library Year. She has been receiving rave reviews.

  67. JM says...

    Elton John’s new autobiography! It’s fascinating and HILARIOUS. I’m listening to the audiobook (narrated by the actor that played him in Rocketman, Taron Egerton) and I’m laughing out loud on my commute.

  68. Meghan Edwards says...

    Oh! I’ve always loved that quote by Olive Kitteridge on your “About COJ” blurb. I didn’t know she was a fictional character! How lovely, Jo!

  69. Brittney says...

    I just finished “The Great Believers” by Rebecca Makkai and it BLEW. ME. AWAY. I normally stick to essays/ nonfiction, but am so glad I gave fiction another chance. I found myself at work thinking about the characters in the book & how I couldn’t wait to get home and ready more. I didn’t want it to end!

    • Amanda Brown says...

      Oh my gosh. I finished it yesterday. So, so good.

    • Colleen says...

      That book wrecked me. I reallyyyy lost it during the scene of Yale & the cat. </3

    • Julie says...

      Unpopular opinion, I did not love The Great Believers…the Yale plot line was good, but the current plot line was meh. It got really boring in the middle. I wish I loved it as much as other people did!!

    • Karla says...

      I loved loved loved The Great Believers. Such amazing characters and the writing is fantastic.

  70. Kate says...

    I’m almost done with The Dutch House, but keep putting off finishing it because I don’t want it to end!!

    I love that feeling of being sucked into a world… so sad to have to leave it, sometimes. I want to be friends with Maeve!

    I was really bowled over by Bel Canto and since then read anything Ann Patchett writes.

  71. Sherri says...

    The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles is a very satisfying read!

  72. Anonygirl says...

    Can you please link to indie bookstores, or Goodreads?

    I’m reading With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo and it’s amazing. She wrote The Poet X, which is told in poem form. Fire is prose, but it packs a punch.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, we are now doing a mix of links, including indiebound! :)

  73. Anna says...

    I just finished When Women were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams. After experiencing a couple of deaths in my family over the last six months and not really grieving properly, it was such a healing read.

    • C says...

      Every single thing terry tempest Williams has written is incredible.

  74. Lindsey says...

    I LIVE for these book recommendation posts and comments! Can this please be a regular feature?

    • Jac says...

      Beyond proud to share my friend Zoe Fishman’s newest book, Invisible as Air, which has been getting wonderful reviews. It’s about a mom around our age with one child and her depression- it’s actually a total page turner!!!! And she totally nails the freedom of taking an anti-depressant or similar. I HIGHLY recommend!

  75. Juliw says...

    I just started into Little FIres Everywhere. Pretty good so far! I am really looking for aome new YA novels though of you lovely readers have suggestions. For years I have bought my nieces and nephews books (I stopped one year bc I thought they were too old and over it and they said they loves reading them every year) for the holidays but I like to read them first now to make sure they arent too sad or old for them. They are all 10-14.

    • Anonygirl says...

      Elizabeth Acevedo – The Poet X and With The Fire On High
      Ben Guterson – The Winterhouse series (the first two books are out, the third one comes out 12/31)
      Todd Borg – Owen McKenna mystery series (they don’t need to be read in order – there are 17 in the series)
      Ann Rinaldi – historical fiction

    • Magda says...

      Jacqueline Woodson’s Harbor Me is amazing, like pretty much anything she writes. It’s set in Brooklyn and grapples with grief, incarceration, deportation, poverty, racism, learning disabilities, and bullying and affirms the power of friendship amidst all that. And I don’t normally have a taste for YA literature.
      Kate DiCamillo’s Raymie Nightingale and Louisiana’s Way Home are also fantastic and also take on some difficult topics like poverty, divorce, adoption, and abandonment. Beverly, Right Here just came out and it’s told from the point of view of the third of these three girl friends.

    • Emily says...

      These are all on the older side of your range, but all very good.
      Station Eleven
      Anything by John Green
      We Were Liars
      The Hazel Wood
      The Hate U Give
      One of Us is Lying
      The Giver
      The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

    • Rachael says...

      Highly recommend anything by Sarah Dessen; Jenny Han’s TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE series (for the older ones); anything by Nicola Yoon. And of course Harry Potter! ;)

    • Mary W says...

      I’ve love the Dr. Greta Helsing series by Vivian Shaw. She’s a human doctor that treats supernatural creatures like vampires and mummies (her father dropped the Van from their last name). Monsters, demons, and action, with a little romance sprinkled in. I recommended them to a friend whose daughter was in 8th grade and they loved them, too. Read them in order.

    • rose says...

      For the older kids of both genders:
      A Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin was and still is my favorite winter read. I read it every single winter for years and years. I was not a fan of the movie however – I would have made it and cast it so very differently.

      Stone Junction by Jim Dodge and Thomas Pynchon

      For the younger ones but at any age/gender, I always give these classics if they don’t already have them:
      Island of the Blue Dolphins
      Little House on the Prairie collection
      The Chronicles of Narnia collection
      A Wrinkle in Time – obv’s
      My Side of the Mountain

      All of these are wholesome and teach resilience and responsibility in the most adventurous ways possible.

    • Heather says...

      That’s the perfect age range to read and love Neil Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book.” My 6th grader and all her classmates loved “Refugee” by Alan Gratz. If they like fantasy, “The Hobbit” and “The Dark is Rising” series are excellent.

      And I always recommend “The Penderwicks” series to anyone of any age. It’s about a family of four strong sisters (and their best friend Jeffrey) and follows them from childhood to adulthood by the final book. It is charming and funny and delightful and poignant.

    • Milou says...

      I’m so surprised there are no Ursula Leguin suggestions! The Wizard of Earthsea series is wonderful, even for folks who eskew sci-go/fantasy.

  76. Samantha says...

    I have read so many good books this year! I’ve bene reading my way through Reese Witherspoon’s book club picks and they have all been amazing. Whisper Network by Chandler Baker was especially good. I L-O-V-E-D The Secrets We Kept so so much- if you like historical fiction it is a must read. I’m currently reading One Day in December, and The Testaments is next on my list.

    • Julie says...

      Have you read where the crawdads sing??? Its on her list and is so good.

    • Samantha says...

      Yes and it was so great I finished it in 2 sittings!! The plot twists!!

    • Kay says...

      I’m reading One Day in December right now too! I’m so curious as to what transpires between Laurie, Sarah and Jack!

  77. mj says...

    Is there a way to have a searchable list of book recommendations from COJ and readers alike? I find so many good books from everyone but they can be hard to track down the titles from posts and comments. Just a little wish item!

    • Christina says...

      MJ, jumping on this, I’ve thought for a long time that CoJ should have a Goodreads page! It would be so nice to keep track of, maybe also have a list of books recommended by commenters, and then they could link to the Goodreads book page rather than to actually purchase the books. If you don’t have Goodreads yet, I highly recommend it! I usually pull it up and add books from CoJ and the comments as I browse. Then I use it to remember when I’m in the library or at a bookstore.

    • Lauren E. says...

      Just here to chime in that most romance written after 2010 (and there’s a LOT!) is not white horses and heaving breasts in the slightest. I just finished The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai about an entrepreneur vying to buy a competitor’s online dating app and in the meantime, falling for their spokesperson. The main characters are strong and well written and the story is fantastic. And it’s a romance! If you’ve written off the genre in the past, but you like a happy ending, you should definitely give it another try.

  78. MK says...

    Circe by Madeline Miller blew my mind! I’m not normally into Greek mythology or fantasy, but this was so powerfully told and beautifully written I couldn’t get enough.
    I listened to the audio book, and when I finished I just went straight back to the beginning- I just didn’t want it to end.

    • Elise says...

      YES, loved Circe on audio!!

  79. Julie says...

    I’m reading Leigh Bardugo’s debut The Ninth House, which is a more supernatural take on the Skull and Crossbones society at Yale. It’s perfect for this time of year.

    I’m also reading The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny, it’s the 3rd of her Inspector Gamache series.

  80. katie says...

    I just flew through Normal People by Sally Rooney and have fallen in love with her writing style. Anyone have feedback on her earlier book Conversations with Friends? I may have to dive into that one too!

    • Elizabeth R says...

      I liked Convos with Friends; but LOVED Normal People. Do with that what you will.

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      I prefer CWF to Normal People. Dive right in.

    • Lindsey says...

      Conversations with Friends was just as good as Normal People! I did the same thing as you, and still craved more of her after going back and reading her first. She’s incredibly gifted.

    • STK says...

      I also read Sally Rooney’s books recently and loved both of them! Actually read Conversations with Friends first and was a huge fan, but think I loved Normal People even more. Her writing is just so good.

    • Sonja says...

      KATIE – DO IT. I LOVED both so, so, so much. I went into a deep Rooney hole and read them back to back. I may just read them again. SO GOOD. UGH.

    • K says...

      I loved both books- maybe even Conversations with Friends a little more? The characters feel similar, and her writing style shines through again!

    • MK says...

      I was mesmerized by Conversations with Friends- highly recommend!

    • Samantha says...

      Both are excellent! I read them back to back. I hope she is working on another novel.

    • asia says...

      I didn’t love Conversations with Friends QUITE as much as Normal People, which is to say, I loved it, but didn’t LOVE IT LOVE IT. Still, Rooney is singular in her ability to capture human behavior in all of its idiosyncratic glory.

    • katie says...

      Oh wow, thanks everyone! Also, nice to know I’m not the only one wanting to crawl in a “deep Rooney hole” as Sonja put it and stay there all fall :) xo

    • Jennette says...

      Both so good!

    • Britt says...

      Read Conversations with Friends first and loved it. Heart achingly beautiful.

    • Kim says...

      OMG, it’s so good. Read it.

    • Rebecca says...

      Obsessed with both of them. I loved Conversations with Friends so much that when I got Normal People from the library right before Mothers’ Day, I told my husband that all I wanted was for him to take the kids out of the house long enough for me to read it from start to finish. He did. What a joy.

    • Helen says...

      I read both within a month of each other and LOVED Normal People and enjoyed Conversations with Friends but I wouldn’t highly recommend it.

  81. Denise says...

    I’m reading the Roald Dahl collection of 15 kid’s stories. Right now I’m on James & the Giant Peach. I thought I’d read them and send them on to my nieces but I’m hesitating because the adults in all the stories are so mean and abusive and there is quite a bit of fat-shaming throughout all of Roald Dahl’s kids stories. I don’t remember that as a kid, but it doesn’t translate well to these times. My niece is 10, though, and surely old enough to know better than to be mean and young enough to enjoy them for their wonderful imaginative stories….right?

    • Ellen W says...

      Both of my boys read his books when they were younger than your niece and thoroughly enjoyed them.

    • Julia says...

      Oh please don’t hesitate to send the copies. My two boys love Roald Dahl (they are 7 and 5) and don’t ‘look’ at them with grown up eyes. Especially the BFG was a big hit and I thought it was way to scary but they loved it.
      Especially the part about farts, because well, farts.

    • Anna says...

      When I was a kid I hated a lot of Roald Dahl because really, some of the characters are so evil. Trunchbull and Matilda’s parents are violent and abusive and deserve to be in jail, and Witches is terrifying! One story of his that I did always love is The Giraffe, The Pelly, and Me, though it might be a bit young for a 10 year old.

    • Sara says...

      Roald Dahl collection was big at our house last year. My husband and I had lots of fun reading them with our 6 and 8 year old boys. After finishing the books we would plan a family movie night, so 4 year old little sister could enjoy the stories too. Yes lots of mean characters but also lots of kind ones. Plenty to spark conversations. I say send them! Maybe with a little note encouraging your niece to always look for the good people:) These are great, imaginative stories. Classics.

    • Kristen says...

      Go for it! We’ve read every book in that collection to our boys (5 and 7) and there are a few we’ve read at least 10 times. Nothing makes them laugh harder! I’ll usually point out when I think something seems really old fashioned or offensive, but even our young kids seem pretty savvy about that stuff. (When we watched Swiss Family Robinson, which was one of my favorite movies as a kid and turns out to have the most retrograde view of women, my 5 year old could not get over the the fact that no one let the mom lift anything heavy.)
      Aside from having some of the most beautiful, inventive, funny writing, those Roald Dahl books really seem to capture what it feels like to be a kid with very little control…and sometimes adults are nasty and you’d like to put shoe polish in their medicine.

    • rose says...

      Those stories of meanness are there to teach them about how NOT to be. Kids get that and they love the drama.

    • MozartsGirl says...

      Claim to fame…Roald Dahl lived in my village when I was growing up so we ran into him a lot! My sister and I jointly won a community fancy dress competition (I was a milk-maid, she was a daisy) and he presented our prize…a signed copy of ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’! I love to tell kids that story and watch their jaws drop!! His grave is covered in chocolate bars, left by fans…my favourite of his books was always ‘Charlie & the Chocolate Factory’…I loved Charlie & his family especially xx

  82. Nan says...

    I recently read and loved “The Most Fun We Ever Had” and could not stop thinking about the family in the book for a long time after. I am currently reading “The Farm” which is really interesting and enjoyable too.

  83. Courtney says...

    Also just started The Overstory. I can only read a little at a time because I always feel like crying while reading it. The comfort and sadness of how fleeting human life is in comparison to trees/nature is told through wonderful stories with straightforward language. I am also just savoring it and don’t want it to end.

    • anne says...

      this book was so incredible and mysterious, and absolutely warrants slow, savored reading. i cried, too.

    • Frankie says...

      Yes to The Overstory. Having a very similar reading experience… After reading just the first chapter I went out and bought three more copies to give as gifts. Everyone needs to read this book.

  84. Amanda says...

    Maureen, I accidently ordered a large-print book a few years ago, but now I’m hooked – paperback, and so much easier on the eyes!

    • Kathleen says...

      I laugh at myself when I’m looking at books in a used book store. If there are multiple copies, I will automatically choose the one with the largest print and easiest typeface. Makes me feel old but I really love to read and some older books (classics especially ) can often be printed in a way that seems really outdated and hard to read now. I’m all for doing whatever makes reading easier!

    • florence says...

      My husband ordered the large print for Michelle Obama’s book last Christmas as it was the only paperback version available and it was so nice! LOL. I was also able to pass on the book to my dad who is 70. I may have to check out more large print at the library…

    • Maureen says...

      I agree Amanda!!

  85. Nigerian Girl says...

    Team Olive here. I’ve been eagerly awaiting Olive, Again for months and I’m finally starting it tonight. I expect it to be the best book I read this year, so it better not disappoint.

    I’m Telling The Truth, But I’m Lying is on my to-read list. I’m a bit skeptical about The Dutch House. Ann Patchett can be a hit or miss for me. I love State of Wonder, The Magician’s Assistant and The Patron Saint of Liars. The others, I just couldn’t get into at all.

    Recently, I’ve enjoyed:
    – The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa
    – Outline by Rachel Cusk
    – Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips (Highly, highly recommended. I’m still in awe of her powerful writing.)

  86. renee520 says...

    Just a small ‘lil suggestion, maybe y’all could include links to indiebound instead of amazon. Or perhaps choose a different local bookseller to spotlight whenever you do booklists. Totally get that Amazon is convenient, but I think most of us here are aware they are not great, and plus they don’t actually *need* our business. That being said I love the blog, been a reader for a long time!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      we did! we do a mix now :) if you click around, you’ll see a bunch to indiebound, barnes and noble, etc. thank you!

  87. Jules says...

    I just finished The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lomardo and I’m still reveling in the delicious twilight after finishing a great book. Claire’s writing is full of empathy and effortless beauty. I loved it and would recommend it to anyone who loves a modern family drama. And, just the other day, it was announced that it was picked up for a series on HBO!

    • Maire says...

      SO EXCITED to hear that this book is getting an HBO series! I loved it so much and can’t wait to see it on screen to see if they cast people the way I imagined them in my mind!

  88. Lynn says...

    Dutch House was disappointing. Nothing’s as good as Bel Canto and I’m still chasing that. Commonwealth wasnt bad but Dutch House could have been more.

    • Kate says...

      I feel the same!

    • Jessica says...

      I was not disappointed in The Dutch House, but I agree nothing is as good as Bel Canto! Books I have loved nearly as much as Bel Canto for their combination of storytelling and prose are:

      The River, by Peter Heller
      The Great Believers, by Rebecca Makkai
      Circe, by Madeline Miller
      A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles

      Most of these titles have been mentioned repeatedly in other comments, but The River hasn’t. It should be next on everyone’s list.

  89. Whitney says...

    I just finished reading “The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley” by Hannah Tinti. Beautiful prose and really engaging. I loved the back and forth story structure.

  90. Jen says...

    I’m on a roll with great books lately! Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie, On the Come Up by Angie Thomas (and her earlier book – The Hate U Give), Three Women by Lisa Taddeo, and Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld if you are looking for a light, fun read!

  91. amy says...

    I’m reading Three Women by Lisa Taddeo. Just finished She Said which was amazing. All of these books are on my library reserve list. Cup of Jo posts on books (and fashion) are my favorite! Happy fall!

  92. Cheryl says...

    I got sucked down a late 90’s-2000’s Amy Tan rabbit hole this summer. The Bonesetter’s Daughter, The Valley of Amazement, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Joy Luck club. All just fantastic reads that wrap you up in a different world.
    The best part is all the books are available and on the library shelf because they’re so dang old. Sometimes it’s a good thing to be late to a party.

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      Amy Tan is amazing. A long-time favourite of mine.

    • anne says...

      i JUST got on the amy tan train this month! i’m starting with joy luck and so far it’s just wonderful, reading all those luxuriously detailed stories of such different characters. love being late to a book party. :)

    • Sara says...

      Oh Cheryl, she is one of my absolute FAVES! Kitchen Gods Wife and Saving Fish From Drowning are also, V V V good! Two of my all time favorites!

    • Cheryl says...

      It’s crazy, I read The Joy Luck Club last and I liked it the least! But it was still good, you know? I just felt The Valley of Amazement was a masterpiece. Amy Tan fans in the house!! 🙌

  93. Elizabeth R says...

    Also. Re The Dutch House, if you are ever in Nashville, make sure to stop by Ann Patchett’s bookstore, Parnassus. It is so charming.

  94. Bryn says...

    I love the book recommendations posts! I started Save Me the Plums yesterday and can’t wait to get home and continue reading. After reading the comments, I’ve ordered The Dutch House. Thanks, Cup of Jo!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’m so glad!

    • Liz says...

      Just Mercy: A Story of justice and redemption but Bryan Stevenson is incredible. Infuriating, depressing and inspiring. The author is a civil rights lawyer currently working in alabama and around the country. I learned so much about the racism and bias in our justice system. Should be required reading for every American! I first heard about this book in the comments here :)

      And I’m so excited about the new Olive Kitteridge book!

  95. Andrea says...

    I am reading more of the Patchett back catalogue while waiting for the new book on library hold. Run is very good. Don’t think I’ve been disappointed in any of her books.

    • Julie says...

      Truth and Beauty is my favorite of hers. It’s the most beautiful testament to a female friendship. And her friend Lucy’s book, Autobiography of a Face, is just as fantastic.

  96. Kate says...

    The Only Plane in the Sky was just oh-so-fantastic. Gripping, emotionally, and startling. It’s an oral history of everything that unfolded on 9/11.

    • Christina M says...

      I just started listening to this! I do think I need it as a hard cover though, I want it to be on my book shelf.

  97. Calla says...

    I am tearing through “The Power” right now. About a future in which women develop the ability to shock people and how the changing power dynamic changes the structure of society. If you like Margaret Atwood I highly recommend it

    • Kate says...

      Oh god, the very last line in that book made me cackle. I listened to the Audible version and enjoyed every moment!

    • Lynn says...

      And it’s being made into an Amazon tv series!

    • Emily says...

      LOVED The Power!

  98. Louisa says...

    Ann Patchett just gave a talk this week in Boise (and Ta-Nehisi Coates was here a week prior!). In her phenomenal talk she recommended a few dozen books – and now I want to have 4 months of winter with nothing to do but read. http://www.annpatchett.com/booklist

    • Katharine says...

      Hi fellow Boisean!!! I never see our city in these comments and I was at the Ta Nehisi reading, small world!!!

    • Louisa says...

      I was so proud of our little city for selling out the show!

  99. Elizabeth Strout is so, so good. Olive Kitteridge was one of my favorite books this year!

  100. NK says...

    I just went to hear David Sedaris speak and he was raving about The Dutch House, I immediately requested it from my library!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      wow, if he loves it, i’m in for sure!

  101. Court says...

    I’m reading “Rules of Civility” by Amor Towles because I was in love with “A Gentleman in Moscow” and felt ready to embark on another Amor Towles adventure.

    • Whitney says...

      I LOVED both of his books! When will he publish another? His voice is so charming.

    • Lynn says...

      He’s the best! I preferred A Gentleman in Moscow but Rules of Civility is good as well. If you like the 20s, City of Girls is quite popular now but I didn’t love it personally. Also, DON’T READ Amor Towles sci fi short story he did for Amazon, it’s not good.

    • Kate says...

      I really like both of those, and never realized they’re by the same person!

    • Court says...

      Whitney- I read an article that says it takes him four years to write a novel. So we have a while!

  102. Mary H says...

    Listening to The Dutch House on audio, read by Tom Hanks. He completely embodies the character. So good.

    And speaking of audio, I highly recommend Bunny by Mona Awad, my favorite listen of 2019. If you’ve ever been on the outside of a “clique” looking in, you will relish every word.

  103. AN says...

    This year, I committed to reading books written by women of color. Just finished Angie Cruz’ “Dominicana” and am about to start “Red at the Bone” by Jacqueline Woodson. And will make a slight exception coming up next with “The Water Dancer”, because Ta-Nehisi Coates.

    • Allie says...

      A second for “Red at the Bone.” An amazing book!

    • Heather says...

      Along those lines – let me recommend a couple:

      Joy Castro – Nearer Home & Hell or High Water
      Jesmyn Ward – Salvage the Bones, Men We Reaped, & Sing, Unburied, Sing
      Tayari Jones – Silver Sparrow & An American Marriage
      Tiana Clark (Poetry) – I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood
      Louise Erdrich – Everything! But mostly: The Round House

    • Julie says...

      Did you like Dominicana? It’s on my shelf from the library!

    • Jessica says...

      Great list, Heather. Here are a few more:

      Queenie, by Candice Carty-Williams
      From Scratch, by Tembi Locke
      Here Comes the Sun, by Nicole Dennis-Benn
      American Spy, by Lauren Wilkinson
      A Place for Us, by Fatima Farheen Mirza
      Girls Burn Brighter, by Shabha Rao
      Home Fire, by Kamila Shamsie

    • AN says...

      “Dominicana” was GREAT, and I forgot “Queenie”, also a winner!

    • Emily says...

      some more wonderful ones:
      The Other Americans – Laila Lalami
      Good Talk – Mira Jacob
      Half of a Yellow Sun & Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
      Eloquent Rage – Brittney Cooper
      Girls Burn Brighter – Shobha Rao
      We are Never Meeting in Real Life – Samantha Irby
      Children of Blood and Bone – Tomica Adeyemi
      I’m Still Here – Austin Channing Brown
      Brown Girl Dreaming – Jacqueline Woodson

  104. ks says...

    from last book post i checked out from the library & loved:
    – there, there by tommy orange
    – sabrina & corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine
    – Where reasons end : a novel by Li, Yiyun
    – on this earth we were briefly beautiful by Ocean Vuong
    – The great believers by Makkai, Rebecca
    still patiently waiting my turn for: The testaments, Southern Lady Code : essays, Three women, The water dancer : a novel, Maybe you should talk to someone : a therapist, her therapist, and our lives revealed, Red at the bone…

    i couldn’t get into a few others that i pulled from that post but always excited for these posts & all the suggestions that come from it. xx

    • Sarah says...

      KS, I’ve done the same thing! I loved the Great Believers, and also read Southern Lady Code and Three Women; I’m still waiting for Maybe You Should Talk to Someone and There, There. I just love thinking of all the CoJ readers who are all reading these books (concurrently or not!) and would loooove an unofficial book club (Boston area, anyone?). Or maybe even a list on Goodreads? It’s so fun to hear everyone’s suggestions of great reads.

    • ks says...

      @sarah – i agree! i’d selfishly love COJ to have a bulletin where we could post IRL events – book clubs, meetings, etc. so we could keep the magic of these comments going. I echo your sentiment for a bookclub or goodreads list- though mine would be houston anyone?

  105. Louise says...

    Catch and Kill. It’s outstanding.

  106. Elizabeth R says...

    I just finished (and loved) The Dutch House. I just started Malcolm Gladwell’s new book ‘Talking to Strangers’ and loving it so far.

  107. Amy says...

    Love that your highlighted books are consistently written by women. That does not go unnoticed, and is much-appreciated!

  108. Eloise says...

    I really enjoyed The Testaments – can’t imagine the pressure Ateood must been under while writing it – such high expectations! I’m reading Hamilton in between seeing it in Philly a fews ago and seeing it in NY at the end of the month amd finding it (surprisingly) enjoyable once I got past the first 100 or so pages.

  109. Kelly says...

    Fleischman Is In Trouble is an insightful, funny, and unexpected take on the evolution of marriage. I love Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s writing style!

    Also for nonfiction “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” was excellent.

    • Eloise says...

      I really enjoyed the first 2/3rds of Fleischman. The rest, not nearly as much.

    • ks says...

      i agree on fleischman. I kept trying because i loved the author interview on the longform podcast & just couldnt.

  110. Staci says...

    I obsessively recommend Madeline Miller’s book ‘Circe’ to everyone I can. It’s an incredibly beautiful read– but if you love to listen to your books, the audiobook voiced by Perdita Weeks is SPECTACULAR.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      circe is next on my list!

    • Emily says...

      SUCH a good book!

  111. Tracy says...

    I just finished The Nightingale (so hauntingly good!) and The Light Between Us (it was a comforting read while I continue to grieve the loss of my dad), but my favorite book I read this year (thus far) was Just Mercy. It should be required reading for everyone!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      my friend was raving about the nightingale. can’t wait to pick it up. and i’m so sorry about the loss of your dad. xo

    • Lauren E. says...

      Seconding The Nightingale! Such a phenomenal story. I fell down a WWII rabbit hole after I read it, and just recently finished We Were the Lucky Ones to coincide with a trip to Krakow. Highly recommend.

    • Jessica says...

      The audiobook version of The Nightingale is phenomenal. I cannot imagine the book without hearing Polly Stone’s deft handling of the different voices and all the French names and words. I rarely recommend audiobook over my trusty kindle app, but do yourself a favor and listen to this one!

  112. Meg says...

    I’m #758 on the library waitlist for Margaret Atwood’s latest. I would say I can’t wait, but…I will!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      wow!!!

    • Monika says...

      362 in San Diego

  113. Daniela says...

    I just started Goodbye, Paris. I’m not super sucked into it yet but the author writes beautifully and after reading a few chapters yesterday, I was in such a pleasant mood.

  114. Miracles and Other Reasonable Things by Sarah Bessey is a beautiful read; I’m about halfway through and trying to savour it. I also LOVED The Testaments!

  115. Elizabeth Hendron says...

    I’ve just finished The Beekeeper of Aleppo which was fantastic! Am now reading Akin by Emma Donoghue which is also really good. I read The Testaments and though it was just OK – it was more of a “story” than The Handmaids Tale.

  116. celeste says...

    Listening to Elvis Duran’s new book, since I DJed in college, on Audible. I appreciate lighter fare in today’s political climate. It’s like a friend talking to me.

  117. Jean says...

    Such great recommendations. I can’t wait to read The Dutch House. I just finished The Nightingale, thanks to a recommendation I saw in the comments on a different book post. For fans of WWII writing, do you know of anything similarly epic I should read??

    • Ashley says...

      If you haven’t already read Beneath a Scarlet Sky, I highly recommend it. I also just finished The Things We Cannot Say and it was fantastic.

    • Court says...

      The Alice Network is fantastic.

    • Awads says...

      All the Light We Cannot See!!!

    • Rebekah says...

      It feels like every other book I pick up nowadays is about WWII, so here goes! All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
      Flight Portfolio by Julie Orringer (admittedly I did not finish this one)
      The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner
      Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark T Sullivan
      The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

    • Helen says...

      Definitely read All the Light We Cannot See!

    • Rebecca says...

      Not WWII but also by Kristin Hannah and excellent was The Great Alone.

    • Quinn says...

      Another vote for All the Light We Cannot See! Transcription by Kate Atkinson is also quite good, and I enjoyed the Alice Network. My other recommendation is a non-fiction one that reads almost like a novel called Madame Fourcade’s Secret War, which is the true story of a large network of spies in occupied France lead by a woman.

    • Julie says...

      My Real Children by Jo Walton is SPECTACULAR.

    • Kath says...

      If you’re also into oral history, I’d recommend Svetlana Alexievich’s Last Witnesses–it’s about the children who lived WWII. The Unwomanly Face of War is another oral history on Soviet women during WWII, also by her.

      And yes, I do also agree with everyone recommending All the Light We Cannot See

    • Lauren says...

      The Nightingale (also by same author as The Great Alone)
      The War That Saved My Life (YA Novel, wonderful story)
      We Were the Lucky Ones
      Code Girls (Nonfiction about American female code breakers during WW2)

      Also, yes, All the Light We Cannot See :)

    • Lexi says...

      I’ve read so much this year, but these three have really stood out: The Nightingale, Educated, and America’s First Daughter.

    • Erin says...

      I second The Great Alone…that’s how I found The Nightingale (which I also really enjoyed). Her writing is great. The imagery in her books is so beautiful and descriptive – I feel like I’m there.

  118. Kate says...

    Can’t recommend “Know my Name” by Chanel Miller enough. It’s moving and heartbreaking and important. I’ve already ordered copies to give to my friends.

    • Her interview on Super Soul podcast with Oprah was so good. Her writing is incredibly moving.

  119. Julie says...

    I’m reading The Overstory by Richard Powers. It won the Pulitzer, and I can see why. It’s about trees and families and how they intertwine throughout the centuries/generations.

    Next on my list is Testaments though!

    • K says...

      I loved The Overstory!! I’ve never read anything like it, and I read a lot. Also recently loved The River, by Peter Heller. Heart-pounding, and anxiety inducing but SO good.

    • Jessica says...

      K, I just went through all the comments hoping to see a mention of The River. I made every book-lover in my family read it, and they all agreed with me that it is perfect.