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What Are You Reading?

Best Books

Cup of Jo has been running for 13 years (!) so we’ve decided that every week, we’ll be highlighting one of the most popular posts from the past. Here’s one of our favorites, originally published on April 6, 2016…

Here’s a party trick: If you ask someone what their favorite book is, they’ll probably blank. It’s a paralyzing question, right? But if you ask people what a few of their top ten books are, they’ll start rattling off a list. So! On that note, here are three great books I’ve read recently (and I’d love to hear yours)…

My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
I finished this book a few days ago, and now I’m craving someone to discuss it with. (It makes me want to start a book club.) Lucy, a married mother of two, is recovering from surgery complications in the hospital, when her own mother comes to sit at the foot of her bed and keep her company. Her mother tells lively, gossipy stories about neighbors in her hometown of Amgash, Illinois, and everything seems to be ticking along well, until Lucy reveals to us in small ways the extreme poverty of her upbringing, her hunger for her mother’s love and their difficult relationship. Strout’s writing is so spare and restrained, it sneaks up on you. You’re reading, not expecting anything major from this or that chapter, when BOOM, Lucy tells a quick story as an aside, and your heart breaks into a million pieces. It took my breath away.

Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola
“Be kind to drunk people, for every one of them is fighting an enormous battle,” writes Hepola, who would drink at bars or parties until she blacked out. Meaning: She could still tell stories and dance and sing karaoke, but in the morning, she wouldn’t remember a thing. She’d use clues (a cab receipt in her pocket, a casual joke from a friend, a corn dog in her bed) to piece together what had happened. “Close your eyes and open them again. That’s what a blackout feels like,” she writes. Although her journalism career blossomed (and the overall tone of the book is frank, funny and warm), she worried more and more about her extreme drinking — and waking up next to strange men. “I drank myself to a place where I didn’t care,” she says, “but I woke up a person who cared enormously. Many yeses on Friday nights would have been noes on Saturday morning. My consent battle was in me.” Hepola’s fascinating memoir is a wild ride until she hits rock bottom — more than once.

Epilogue: A Memoir by Anne Roiphe
This may be the only book I’ve ever re-read, I loved it so much. When her husband of nearly 40 years dies unexpectedly, 70-year-old Anne Roiphe strives to figure out a new day-to-day routine in her Upper West Side apartment. “Grief is in two parts,” she writes. “The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life.” Her adult daughter places a personal ad for her in a literary journal, and when Roiphe meets men for coffee and lunches, the results are both poignant and hilarious. The funny thing is, when I read this memoir years ago — while Alex and I were first dating — I found it heartbreaking and terrifying, while now I find it resilient and strong and full of hope. Funny how much a book can change when your own life changes.

Disclaimer: These books sound depressing written out, but they are so, so wonderful.

Are you reading anything good right now? What are a few of your favorite books? Do you have a book “type”? While writing this, I realized that I must be drawn to first-person books about women. (I also loved Dept. of Speculation and Persepolis.)

P.S. The scariest book, and five big fall books.

(Photo by Romain Pivétal, via Sycamore Street.)

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  1. Nicole says...

    I’m wrapping up ‘Station Eleven’ by Emily St. James Mandel. It’s an amazing cast of characters with wonderful themes: what it means to be human after civilization ends; why art is so essential and endures; what it means to find purpose.

    It’s been a long time since a book held my interest like this. I highly recommend!

  2. Kimberly says...

    What I Loved: by Siri Hustvedt.
    I can’t put it down!!!

  3. My nose is currently buried in The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan. I first caught wind of it when I realised the young author of the book died in a tragic accident and her work was put together by friends and ex professor’s into this book. Her words are brilliant!

    • Juliet says...

      I love Marina Keegan’s writing! I’ve read many of her stories and essays several times. Such a brilliant writer! She had so much wisdom and depth for someone so young.

  4. I’m reading “Moonlight Over Paris” by Jennifer Robinson.
    I also enjoy first-person novels about women, or memoirs (Mindy Kaling’s latest and Drew Barrymore’s are among my favourites right now).
    And my all-time favourite novel is “Pride and Prejudice”, though “Little Women” is a very close second.

    Kristi | Be Loverly

  5. Anne says...

    I’m enjoying your site

  6. Love these bookish posts! I’ve read so many books this year already. I set a goal of 100 books this year.:) I am on my 21st book of the year.

    Favourites so far:

    2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino (a charming, witty debut novel about a nine-year-old girl who dreams of becoming a jazz singer. The story is set in Philadelphia and takes place on a snowy Christmas Eve over a 24-hour period. I was amazed by all that happened in a day!)

    Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova (I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this one as books dealing with medical conditions tend to keep me up at night. I guess I am cured! A must-read! Read it in 3 days.)

    When Breath Becomes Air (I was so moved by Paul’s story. He was such a kindhearted, brave, and beautiful soul and Lucy’s epilogue made me tear up. Read it in a day.)

    The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (I recently read this popular novel and I can safely say it’s one of my all-time favourites. If you haven’t read it yet, you need to. This story will stay with me for life.)

    Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams (I am making my way through all her books, but this one is my fave so far I think.)

    Read Bottom Up by Neel Shah & Skye Chatham ( I just finished this one over the weekend. I read it in two days, but you can easily finish it in an afternoon. A hilarious story about falling in (and out) of love in the digital age. The story is told through texts and emails between the new couple and their two best friends. I laughed out loud throughout and nodded my head in agreement at certain parts.)

    Currently reading: The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe (finally!). I am loving it!

    Happy reading!

  7. Kari K says...

    Top favorites
    Gone With the Wind – It’s been a favorite since I was a kid. Might need to dust this one off again, it’s been a while since I’ve re-read it.
    Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage – Inspiring.
    Dead Wake – Heart racing. Hard to believe it’s non-fiction
    Power of One – I never would’ve picked this one up, but mom sent it and said it was great. No lies, it was incredible.
    Don’t Stop the Carnival – Probably one of the funniest books I’ve read, mainly because I’ve experienced trying to get stuff done in the Caribbean.
    Winds of War/War and Remembrance – Hard to put down despite being ridiculously long novels.
    A Walk in the Woods- hilarious and much better than the movie.
    Guess I’m a bit of a history buff, eh?

  8. Alba says...

    Joanna,

    With 477 comments to this thread I believe this is a clear indication that you have quite a group of bookworm followers here. Please keep those book related posts going.

    • Carrie says...

      Agreed!

  9. Tricia says...

    I’m late to this post! So many great suggestions. Two I don’t see elsewhere on this list: Love is a Mixtape, by Rob Sheffield, and The Kennedy Assassination: 24 Hours After, by Steven M. Gillon. Both are non-fiction but read like novels.

  10. Great article and your list books are so cool .

    I think i’ll read them soon. :D

    Thanks. :)

  11. I just finished reading H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald and it absolutely took my breath away– a memoir about a woman whose father dies unexpectedly, and she turns to training a goshawk as a way to cope with her grief. All at once it’s a captivating story, compelling history, and cogent discussion of what it means to be wild.

  12. The Third Plate is excellent! Currently reading Between the World and Me.

  13. Patty Ryan says...

    My favorite books?
    All the Light We Cannot See
    The Secret Life of Bees

    Beautiful and well written stories.

  14. Love this! My top three favorite books are A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Gone With the Wind, & Alice in Wonderland.

  15. Jo says...

    Some of my favorite books:
    Never Let Me Go by Kazoo Ishiguro – beautiful writing, incredible story about humanity, growing up, love, and friendship.
    Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – fun, entertaining, full of 80’s references
    The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion – beautiful story about being yourself and finding true love. Starring a lovable protagonist you’d root for from start to finish.
    And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie – murder mystery at its finest.
    The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins – incredible story about strength, revolution, freedom, and human rights.
    Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – lovely classic
    The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling – well, you know! =)

    • I love Never Let Me Go!

  16. Amy says...

    I already shared but forgot one… Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart— wonderful and hilarious!! I wish I could re read it all over again and have it be brand new to me :)

    • Amy says...

      Oooooh also God Knows by Joseph Heller. So wry, funny and wonderful

  17. I love reading. Even if I can only manage a few pages before bed, it’s the most relaxing, calming way to unwind. Here are some of my long-time favorites:

    The Namesake – Jhumpa Lahiri
    Bel Canto – Ann Patchett
    American Ghost – Hannah Nordhaus
    The Aviator’s Wife – Melanie Benjamin
    The Invention of Wings – Sue Monk Kidd
    The Age of Miracles – Karen Thompson Walker
    The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
    The Art of Fielding – Chad Harbach
    Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake – Anna Quindlen
    Me Before You – Jojo Moyes

    • Bel Canto, The Namesake, and The Art of Fielding are on my favorites list too, and The Age of Miracles and Me Before You are on my shelf waiting to be read. I’ll have to check out the others, thanks!

    • Oh, and other favorites include:

      Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar – Cheryl Strayed
      The Glass Castle – Jeannette Walls
      The Signature of All Things – Liz Gilbert
      Eva Luna – Isabel Allende
      Belong To Me- Marisa de los Santos
      The Dirty Life- Kristin Kimball

    • Nicole says...

      I highly recommend you check out Ann Patchett’s latest book, The Dutch House. It came out last year and was my favorite book of the year.

  18. Susan Howe says...

    It’s great to see so many readers on here and all of the suggestive books to read! I have not read any of the books you listed so I cannot wait to add them to my list. I am currently reading “Mistress” by James Patterson. He is a long time favorite author. Some of my favorite books thus far are:
    All of Nicholas Sparks books – “The Notebook” my favorite
    All of Jennifer Weiner’s books
    Brain on Fire – My month of madness by Susannah Cahalan
    Promise Not to Tell by Jennifer McMahon
    Damaged by Cathy Glass
    Emily Giffin books
    Elin Hilderbrand books
    Jane Green books

  19. Julie says...

    Our book club went crazy for the book “A Fine Balance” by R. Mistry
    It is a beautiful story about India, amazing saga and I am surprised no one mentioned it so far.

    • Kathryn says...

      I read ” A Fine Balance” years ago and it still haunts me.

    • JC says...

      “A Fine Balance” was one of the best books I’ve ever read – so deeply moving and heartfelt.

  20. Di Jones says...

    I adore your blog so very much. I had simply stopped reading … something I
    used to be so fond of. First it was a time thing, then a progressive lens/ contact issue — basically I could no longer seem to focus for any length of time to sit still. “When Breath Becomes Air” was released , I truly found a book I COULD NOT WAIT TO READ ! Now, I have these three books ^^^^ on my Amazon wish list.
    In truth, I have all four on my wish list — but I will be purchasing soon !

  21. Vanessa says...

    I’m currently reading “S.” by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst. It’s a very interesting concept executed with obsessive detail. I can’t wait to unravel this mystery!
    My recommendations from what I’ve read lately are State of Wonder by Ann Patchett and The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut. Both are fantastic reads!

  22. Jane Carr says...

    A quick shout out to all the public libraries out there – a great use of my tax dollars I reckon. I love, love, love reading and just couldn’t afford to spend thousands of dollars each year on books. Though I do give books as gifts, I don’t usually buy them for myself. Also I don’t feel the need to keep everything I’ve ever read .. trying to be all ‘minimalist’ about the stuff I own.

    Writers are the best – making magic out of ordinary words and taking us to places we’ve never been in space and time. A truly noble profession in my opinion.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, what a lovely comment!

    • Carol says...

      As a librarian, I thank you….now please call your city council person, state senator and representative and let them know….we are always on the hit list when budget time rolls around.

    • Di Jones says...

      what a great idea !

    • Emily says...

      Yes! I’ve been trying to use my library a lot, both to get a bunch of fun books for my daughter, and for books for me – I’ve also been taking out a lot of ebooks to read on my phone on the kindle app and audiobooks for listening in the car and work. Libraries are all kinds of wonderful.

      I’m currently reading State of Wonder by Anne Patchett and Outlander on my phone (kind of the perfect book to have on your phone and sneakily read throughout the day). I also recently read & loved Seveneves (great dystopian space-y but female-focused sci-fi!), and After Birth and Department of Speculation, both very relevant to my current postnatal state.

  23. Jane says...

    Great topic, thanks.
    My suggestion:
    ‘A mother’s story’ by Rosie Batty is a personal account of domestic violence. This book moved me immensely. Rosie was named Australian of the Year 2015 for her work campaigning against domestic violence. It’s a tragic, beautiful and somehow inspiring account full of love for her son Luke.

  24. Lydia says...

    I have a few more. :)
    The Russian Debutante’s Handbook (hilarious)
    The Sea, The Sea (great illustration of human obsessions and disconnect between how we each regard memories and relationships)
    The Year of Magical Thinking (heartbreaking, bittersweet and true)
    The Journalist and the Murderer (this will really get you thinking about ethics between the reporter and subject and how story is crafted)
    Hunger (a fever dream of a novel)
    Bartleby, The Scrivener (“I’d rather not”)
    David Copperfield (Charles Dickens at his best)

  25. Elizabeth says...

    I love when you post about books! I think a regular blog series on reading would be great. I’m just finishing After You by JoJo Moyes and I highly recommend the prequel Me Before You!

  26. Lauren says...

    Three favourite recent reads, all phenomenal:
    All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
    The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah
    Dark Places – Gillian Flynn (I have lent this to 5 people at work who all got hooked and loved it).

    Also enjoyed:
    A Man Called Ove – Fedrik Backman
    About A Boy – Nick Hornby
    Pretty Girls – Karin Slaughter
    Still Alice – Lisa Genova
    Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty

    My goal this year is to prioritise reading over Netflix, and I’ve already read 21 books out of my goal of 52. Amazing when you read more how much more relaxed and emotionally sound I feel, and I prefer to read rather than Netflix now!

    • Jane says...

      I agree Lauren, reading puts me in a much better space than watching tv.

      And ‘Still Alice’ is a great and enlightening read for sure. It left me thinking long after the last page.

    • That’s awesome, Lauren! I’ve also read 21 books so far this year! I made a list of 100 books I plan on reading this year. I also loved Big Little Lies! I read three of Liane Moriarty’s books back in February and Big Little Lies was my favourite. Also enjoyed The Husband’s Secret and What Alice Forgot.

      I really need to revisit Still Alice by Lisa Genova as I recently read Inside the O’Briens and loved it!

    • Juliet says...

      The film adaptation of A Man Called Ove is great too!

  27. As many book as I read, this is still a question I hate! I have no clue what my favorite book is – I like so many for different reasons!

  28. Gina says...

    I’m actually reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil right now, and really enjoying it! Very entertaining! I recently took a trip to Savannah, and when I read this book it transports me back to this wonderful city. Love.

    • Alex says...

      I love that book! Such a wacky cast of characters.

  29. megan says...

    I’m late to the game with my recommendation but here goes:
    The history of love by Nicole Krauss.

    It is such a beautiful story told in a really interesting way.

    • Esra Yıldız says...

      It is my favourite too! I’d love to hear a book recommendation from someone who loves Krauss like i do :) Mine will be “A trip to the stars” from Nicholas Christopher.

    • megan says...

      Thanks Esra, I will look that one up for sure!
      I also loved “Come, Thou Tortoise” by Jessica Grant. A quirky, loveable protagonist and the way the story unfolds is similar to HoL.

  30. I’m reading “Me Before You” by Jojo Meyes

  31. How did I miss this post???

    I will encourage absolutely everybody to read:

    Everything by Tana French. She’s the best writer writing today in my opinion. And she’s coming out with a new book this fall!!!!

    The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness. So strange and sad and beautiful. This is technically YA, but I’d press it on anyone.

  32. Sara says...

    I’m currently reading “Small Mercies” by Eddie Joyce. It was recommended by you and I was touched that his wife commented on the post. It’s really quite lovely!

  33. Sonya says...

    The best book I’ve read, possibly ever: is Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, by Alfred Lansing. It is non-fiction but it so detailed, interesting, and it keeps you on the edge of your seat. I convinced three non-fiction hating friends of mine to read it and all three of them loved it. It is truly riveting and you will experience nearly every emotion while reading it.

    • S says...

      Love that book so much!

    • Kari K says...

      Endurance is in my top 5 favorites for sure. It’s incredible how Shackleton managed to go through the entire two year trek without losing anyone in those conditions. I seriously doubt modern day people would have the fortitude to go through that.

      Another fantastic non-fiction thriller is Dead Wake. It’s about the sinking of the Lusitania told back and forth through the lens of the captain of the Lusitania and the captain of the U-boat that shot it. Intense!

  34. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman! I just finished reading it for my book club, and it was both laugh-out-loud funny and heartbreaking. I’ve already ready several very good books so far this year, but this might be my favorite!

    • Thelma says...

      I loved this book so much too – I’m always pushing it

    • Amy says...

      Such a wonderful book. This might sound morbid but my husband knows he is to read this if anything ever happens to me (!)

  35. Natalie says...

    Excavation: A Memoir by Wendy Ortiz is incredible! She’s coming to terms with the affair she had with her middle school English teacher by performing a personal excavation.
    Binary Star by Sarah Gerard is a poetic and magical book about a co-dependent relationship and astronomy. Strange and beautiful.
    Also Station 11 by Emily St. John Mitchell and You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman!

    • Romina says...

      Station Eleven is so amazing. I read it last year and still think about it all the time.

  36. Maire says...

    I am currently reading The Good German by Joseph Kanon, which sort of a mystery story set in the backdrop of early days of Allied divided Berlin in 1945. It forces you to think about victimhood and whose lives matter in those early days after VE day. I would also recommend After Visiting Friends by Michael Hainey, which is a memoir of a son on a quest to understand what really happened to in the hours and days surrounding his father’s not talked about but seemingly commonplace death. Finally, I love romance novels and I have recently devoured all of Mariana Zapata’s novels and have also enjoyed authors Sarra Manning, Kristen Ashley and Helena Hunting’s “Pucked” series. So fun.

  37. I’ll have to check these out! I do have a type lately of reading non-fiction on biomedical sciences. As someone in the science field, it’s great to get a more layman’s perspective on science. I love anything by Mary Roach and I highly recommend the The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

  38. I just finished ‘All The Light We Cannot See’ and am still reeling from it. It’s been ages since I read such beautiful language, paired with characters I fell in love with. Cannot recommend enough!
    ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ is one I keep meaning to revisit. So different (see: better) than the movie adaptation. Sexy and gripping and so so sad.

    • Loved both of those. I’ve read The Time Traveler’s Wife a few times and I loved it even more upon the rereads

  39. annie says...

    Unbroken. I never want to stop reading this book. It keeps your attention through the whole book, even though it is quite long.

  40. Maria says...

    Pretty girls is awesome, I loved Me before you and All the bright places

  41. Camila says...

    Definitely Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee. Quick read, and definitely worth it

  42. I must say I love the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacquline Winspear.
    The very first one could almost be classified young adult. She has created a wonderful character. I also love the Louise Penny series about Inspector Gamache.

    One of my favorite books of all time is Broken for You. Truly an excellent read.

  43. Kiran says...

    All these suggestions are going to take me a life time to read! I can’t wait…

  44. Harry Potter
    L.A. Candy – Lauren Conrad
    Couple of dutch authors

  45. I just bought The Things We Have in Common by Tasha Kavanagh and I’m so looking forward to reading it. Mostly I love crime thrillers (Gone Girl/Girl on the Train types) but I’ve also been reading a bunch of non-fiction lately too. Namely Bird by Bird, Bad Feminist, and Big Magic :)

  46. Natalie says...

    “A Visit from the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan. I haven’t found a book that I loved as much as this one yet. Recommendations welcome, Cup of Jo readers!

    • Elena says...

      LOVE this one, one of my all time favorites. If you liked it, you might also enjoy The Tiger’s Wife (much slower and much different feel, but amazing). I’m currently reading Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides and really enjoying it, too.

  47. Natalie says...

    “Modern Romance” by Aziz Ansari. It’s interesting to analyze how different we approach dating, marriage and love today. Plus, the chapters about dating around the world were crazy good (mostly Japan– their culture is SO different)! Ansari mixes incredible insights and statistics with his usual wit. The book had me going, “hmm…” & “ha!” the whole way through. If you like his series, Master of None, this book is for you.

  48. It’s not new by any means, but I just finally read The Red Tent and loved it! I feel like I have this beautiful, expansive community of women alive in that book now. I’ll likely re-read it!

    • Amy says...

      Maybe you’ve already read it but if you loved The Red Tent I recommend you try The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks!

  49. Elizabeth says...

    The best book I’ve read in the last year or so was The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. It was a looong book (over 700 pages) but drew me in completely with the rich descriptions of the character’s heartbreaking and messy lives and was suspenseful enough in the right places to prevent it becoming boring or monotonous. Currently reading Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and am loving the mix of humour and scientific investigation in looking at how the dating scene has changed in the last few decades.

    • Gina says...

      The Goldfinch was a favorite of mine, too! Couldn’t wait for bedtime each night to get back to the story!

  50. Nicky says...

    The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan – a story about the brutalities of a prisoner of war camp but with a beautiful but love story in the background. My heart literally ached reading this book. The authors father was interned during the war and died the day the novel was completed. It is an amazing book. Thanks so much for the recommendations everyone!

    • Jane says...

      Hey Nicky. I heard Richard speak at Adelaide Writers Week 2014, and it was fascinating (think it’s possible to hear it via podcast). The book is beside my bed waiting its turn :)
      Jane

  51. Lydia says...

    I can never resist an invitation to provide a list.
    Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy. Slow start, then you cannot put it down.
    East of Eden by John Steinbeck
    The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
    The Goldfinch
    The Stranger by Albert Camus
    The Vet’s Daughter (a very strange and obscure but interesting story)
    The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark (spare, dark, strange and wonderful)
    The Assistant by Robert Walser (a unique voice/point of view)
    Anything by Truman Capote (Other Voices, Other Rooms; In Cold Blood; Music for the Chameleons)
    Jesus Son by Denis Johnson
    Harry Potter (of course)
    Out Stealing Horses

  52. Orphan train
    The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
    A Nazi Officers Wife
    Those Who Saved Us by Jenna Blum
    Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
    A Thousand Splendid Suns

  53. Maya says...

    A Little Life!!!! It is so, so, so heart-wrenchingly good. It does start off slow but it is worth it, 800+ pages later. Yanagihara is a master at describing everyday details and insecurities. It seems similar to My Name is Lucy Barton (which I am now adding to my list)…mundane scenes and then BOOM, it takes you very deep. NYC life, queer identity, gender, race, male friendship, chosen families. I can’t stop thinking about it.

  54. Getting so many good ideas from reading other’s comments!

    I just finished “Fates and Furies” and can’t decide if I loved it or just liked it. The second half definitely had me in suspense.

    I’ve had a string of good reads lately…

    Loved “When Breath Becomes Air. ” Found it to be a beautiful love story–love for his profession, life, his wife and baby. So many poignant moments.

    “Big Magic” is a must read for creatives, or anyone for that matter–love that book!

    “The Things we Bury” was another recent good read.

    “Brooklyn” was marvelous! Probably my favorite of books I’ve read the last few months and as usual, the book is SOOO much better than the movie.

  55. Leah says...

    Great post – reading comments for ideas! Currently reading “When Breath Becomes Air”. Just finished “The Alchemist” for book club. Last loved “All The Light We Cannot See”.

  56. TeeTee says...

    My current reads and latest favorites:

    Pretty girls – Karin Slaughter
    Originals – Adam Grant
    The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah
    We should all be feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    I’m 15% through on A little life by Hanya yanagihara on my Kindle, it started very slow for me but eventually picked up and now I can’t seem to stop thinking about it. I live in Vietnam and it isnt always easy to buy hard copy of foreign books (hence Kindle), but I’m strangely determined to read the rest of this story through a hard copy, it’s such a wrenching tale that makes me want to grab hold of the physical pages ..

  57. Devon says...

    Joanna, I just finished reading When Breath Becomes Air. I was so heartbroken and moved by it. I didn’t start sobbing till I read your sister’s epilogue. However, I felt it was a book filled with hope as much as sadness. Thank you for exposing me to this book. I have recommended it to many friends already and look forward to their thoughts!

    On a slightly lighter note, I’m reading the Expanse series of novels. It’s poetic hard sci-fi that truly makes you think about humanity. Some of the best page turners I’ve read in years.

  58. Meredith says...

    Just started into Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente and it’s excellently strange so far :) Also reading The Third Plate by chef Dan Barber, about his vision for a new future of American eating, and am feeling inspired and challenged by it! Just finished re-reading an old book by L. M. Montgomery – Pat of Silver Bush – one of my childhood favourites.

  59. Alba says...

    Joanna, I walked in my favorite book store this morning to check out ‘My name is Lucy Barton’ and have a latte. 5 hours later I had finished the book and forgot all about my now cold latte. Thank you for your recommendation. I cannot speak highly enough of the Neapolitan novels, they took over my life for a good week until I finished them.

  60. Jan says...

    Girls of Atomic City-about the secret making of the plutonium for the atomic bomb-riveting!

  61. Erica Scott says...

    The richest man in babylon

  62. Frances says...

    Just a rattling of my favs: Slave – Mende Nazer, The Shining – Stephen King, The Light Between Oceans – M.L. Stedman, The Glass Castle – Jeannette Walls

  63. Marla Burke says...

    Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck! as well as a handful of junky murder mysteries :)

  64. Reading “All the light we cannot see” and I do have a favorite book answer “Pride and Prejudice”

    • Leah says...

      All The Light We Cannot See – hope you’re loving it. It was the last book I read that I truly loved…

    • ‘All the light we cannot see’ – beautifully written, I couldn’t put it down. Reminded me of Sebastian Faulks ‘Bird Song’ (would definitely recommend if you haven’t read!)

  65. Hae-Lin Choi says...

    Hands down, the Neapolitan novels by Elana Ferrante! So addictive!!

    • Megan says...

      The Neopolitan Novels are mentioned over and over in these comments. I will definitely have to give them a try!

  66. Jo says...

    Highly, highly recommend _A Little Life_ by Hanya Yanagihara. This book made me cry, laugh, and want to re-read it. It’s long but so worth it. I looked forward to reading it every day and dreaded finishing it. My book club will be reading this shortly because I’ve been raving about it so much :)

  67. Kirstin says...

    I have read so many of the books listed here….and enjoyed most of them immensely. Usually though, I will enjoy the heck out a book, but have little memory of specifics, months, even weeks later. All that remains is whether or not I loved or hated it…….with the exception of one book: We Need to Talk About Kevin. It is the best book I have read in the past 7-8 years. And the only book I have ever started again, the very minute I finished.

    • Renae says...

      Oh yes! After I got over the shock! Amazing book.

    • Denise says...

      Terrific book!

    • Michelle says...

      I agree with you! The story itself is a slow moving horror. But what resonates with me still years after I read it is HER WRITING. I have never felt so much in the head of another person. All the exquisite details and meanderings. What a way with words.

  68. Cinda says...

    Love the blog. I was looking for another book as I just finished, Breath becomes Air. So enjoyed this well written book. Your sister’s words had me in tears. I cannot remember if I ever cried from the written word.. My husband and son are both MD’s and I want them to read this . I as well enjoyed, The Nightengale.

  69. Carlsbad says...

    Funny how people never admit to reading mysteries yet are fine with reading teenage fiction, just wondering. I love Ian Rankin and am reading his latest-Wild Dogs.

  70. Julia says...

    After browsing through all the recs here, I just downloaded “Me before You”. Recently, I enjoyed reading “The Circle” by Dave Eggers: suspenseful, philosophic, and frighteningly realistic!

    • Megan says...

      I completely agree about The Circle. I can’t even say I enjoyed reading it, I was so tense the entire time. I still think about it from time to time though. It gave me chills and terrifies me with the thought that we as a society are moving in that direction.

  71. I’ve just relocated to USA. Whilst I wait for my work permit I’ve been spending my days reading all those classics people talk about but you’re too embarrassed to admit you’ve never read! Just finished ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’ which I loved and about to start ‘Catcher in the Rye’. Love all these recommendations!

  72. Re says...

    I’m not a big fiction reader, I mostly enjoy reading about topics related to my work (Architecture), or poetry. But a funny thing happened to me about Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. I first tried to read it and simply couldn’t manage. It seemed to bore me.
    It was only after living in England, and returning home, that I could finally get ahold of it and enjoy the story. Loads!

  73. sarah says...

    I feel the exact same way about My Name is Lucy Barton! It was such a great book. I’m also currently reading Pretty Happy by Kate Hudson, which is surprisingly informative about fitness and food, as well as When Breath Becomes Air, which you obviously know well. I haven’t even made it to Lucy’s epilogue and I’m already crying as I read. Such a wonderful well-written story.

  74. I’m finishing The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls. And lately I’ve read:
    Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng
    The Long and Faraway Gone – Lou Berney
    Luckiest Girl Alive – Jessica Knoll
    WeWere Liars – E. Lockhart
    The Fair Fight – Anna Freeman (I LOVED this story!!)

    • Did you sob hysterically at the end of We Were Liars (or was that just me)?

  75. Sarah says...

    I’ve read the first two and now am dying to read Epilogue! I’m currently reading “The Nest” as the cover was beckoning to me in an airport. Recents that I’ve LOVED: “What she saw”, “the nightingale” (honestly might be my #1 ever) and “Where’d you go Bernadette”

  76. I have a review on my blog, amotheradaughterandlife.com, of The Japanese Lover, it was very good. I just finished The Widow, it was fairly good also. Both of these were my book club picks, I am more of a private eye, murder mystery reader.

  77. I just wrote a post about my recent reads. My favorites are dark mysterious books. I’ve been thinking about joining a book club to branch out my tastes and read things I wouldn’t normally pick up and choose. I just bought ‘Versions of Us’ but I’m struggling to find the time to really sit down and get into it.

  78. Ange says...

    I just read Ghettoside by Jill Leovy. It was extremely heartbreaking but really well written and an important subject of our time. It was a very human.

    • sarah says...

      I’ve heard so many good things about this one! I will have to check it out!

  79. Jasmine says...

    Yay for book recommendations!

    Although technically YA, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell is one of my favorite books in the last 5 years. Totally written for adult children of the 80s and not the high schoolers it features (although great for them too.) The author even posts the playlists of songs from the book on Spotify http://www.rainbowrowell.com/news/eleanor-park-all-the-playlists-all-the-music

    • Melissa says...

      I love Eleanor and Park too! And I totally agree that it’s written for those of us who grew up in the 80s :) Have you read Fangirl yet, also by Rainbow Rowell? It’s also totally fabulous!

  80. JB says...

    These are easy reads, but I actually listened to these while driving/walking the dog and LOVED them.

    In a Dark, Dark Wood
    The Widow

    Great, quick and suspenseful.

  81. antonietta says...

    “Eligible” by Curtis Sittenfeld. It s”Pride and Prejudice” set in modern Cincinnati. it s so funny and witty, a real jem.

  82. I just finished “The Heart Goes Last” by Margaret Atwood, and recommend it. I am six chapters into “Purity” by Jonathan Franzen and so far I’ve got no complaints. Before that, it took me two months to get through “Joseph Anton” by Salman Rushdie. Not a fast read, or even a fun one, but worth the time because of the lessons it teaches about censorship, staying true to one’s ideals, and how the world has evolved over the past twenty years into the reality of now.

  83. Keri says...

    I’m currently reading “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”

  84. Abby says...

    Loved this post and added to my book list, thanks to you! Recent great reads: A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout (amazing memoir of a young woman kidnapped in Somolia and held for 460 days), Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good by Kathleen Flinn (heartwarming memoir about her family), and The Good Girl by Mary Kubika (spare, edgy thriller). Favorite genre is hands-down, memoirs, especially by women. Among the best: Wild by Cheryl Strayed (don’t let the commercial success put you off it. It is astounding); Don’t Let’s Go To the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller; Comfort Me With Apples by Ruth Reichl; A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel; Too Close to the Falls by Catherine Gildiner.

  85. Danielle says...

    I just read every single one of these comments & my wishlist on amazon has grown immensely. I live for these blog posts!

    I cannot believe I haven’t seen anyone else mention this book because it’s the best thing I have read in years (and years and years and years). Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts!

    A few more books I have loved over the past few years
    – The Shadow of the Wind (and the rest of the books in the cemetery series) by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
    – The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
    – A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

    • Ursula says...

      Danielle – you and I are kindred book spirits! I love all these three books. Especially Shadow of the Wind!

      I haven’t read Shantaram yet but it is on my list!

    • Oh my gosh, The Paris Wife was one of my faves. I was so sad when it was over

    • Jenny says...

      I loved Shadow of the Wind too! Did you read The Angel’s Game? I wanted to love it, but found it very confusing and lacking the satisfying tying up of loose ends in Shadow of the Wind.

    • merri says...

      The Paris Wife! Sigh.

    • Sayonada says...

      OMG — someone else that knows the Shadow of the Wind. I will take your book suggestions any day!

    • Yes Shadow of the Wind was way better than The Angel’s Game. But I just love his writing–makes me long to live in old Barcelona

    • Carrie says...

      How did I forget to mention The Paris Wife?? That book was amazing!!

    • Jane says...

      Oh yes Shantaram was great – and it’s a huge read (900+ pages). It felt like a part of my life while I was reading it, and I was somewhat devasted to get to the end. :)

  86. I love these posts so much! No better book recommendations than those from fellow readers. :)My recommendation is “What We See When We Read” which I just got from Amazon. It’s the most unique book I’ve read so far. Also, any of the Brooklyn girls novels! They are so addicting and fun/funny.

  87. Sissy says...

    -I just finished All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews, absolutely beautiful!
    -The Mathematicians Shiva, mysterious and hilarious!
    – An older, but still wonderful Oliver Sacks book, Oaxaca Journals
    – An incredible food/memoir book called Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home by Jessica Fechtor

  88. Tali says...

    This is a great list. I just read another great review on the Blackout: Remembering the things I drink to Forget. I’m currently reading The Girl with Nine Wigs, it’s a memoir by Sophie van der strap. It’s about a 21 year old girl in the Netherlands and when she gets diagnosed with a rare cancer and instead of getting 1 wig after she loses her hair she gets 9 for her different moods. The whole book spans a year and is pretty much taken day by day i.e. each chapter is dated.

    I also just finished reading, The Nightingale (which I highly recommend)!
    Adding a bunch of these books from the comments to my book list

  89. I just finished A Little Life by Hanya Yangihara. It’s a beautiful book but I definitely suggest you proceed with caution.

    • Natalie says...

      I just finished this book as well and am still in mourning over it’s end.
      It is absolutely heartbreakingly beautiful. I would read it immediately but be prepared to be broken and put back together more than once.

    • Kate says...

      I read it too in just a few days. It truly broke me. It’s oh-so dark, but such a compelling read. I definitely agree about proceeding with caution!

    • Lydia says...

      I started reading this book but about 150 pages in I started to suspect this was going to be a “Dancer in the Dark” situation. By that I mean manipulative and contrived. Was I wrong–should I give it another chance?

    • Sophia says...

      Lydia, you are not wrong. It was too unbelievable for me.

  90. Liz says...

    I too just finished When Breath Becomes Air. So moving :)

    A few favorites, which seem to be echoed throughout this list:

    – Americanah: Chimamanda Adichie
    – All The Light We Cannot See: Anthony Doerr
    – Beach Music: Pat Conroy
    – Memoirs of a Geisha: Arthur Golden
    – The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao: Junot Diaz
    – I Feel Bad About My Neck: Nora Ephron
    – Middlesex: Jeffrey Euginedes….I return to his writing again and again!
    – The Paris Wife: Paula McLain

    ….so many, really!

  91. Samantha says...

    -The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (It’s one I’ve wanted to re-read for a few years now)
    -Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier ( a favourite from high school)
    – The Light Between Oceans by ML Steadman
    – A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken (About his relationship with his wife and how his friendship with CS Lewis helped him with his grief after losing her. Beautiful, heartbreaking, and profound. I buy a copy whenever I find one.)

  92. Laurel K says...

    I just finished “When Breath Becomes Air” and it was AMAZING. I’m still thinking about specific parts of the book – I just can’t get it out of my mind. Also intrigued by the author Elizabeth Strout and am reading one of her earlier books “Amy and Isabelle”.

    • sarah says...

      I feel the same way about When Breath Becomes Air! I definitely recommend My Name is Lucy Barton if you’re interested in reading more by Elizabeth Strout. It was a good one!

  93. I just finished Garth Risk Hallberg’s “City On Fire.” It’s epic and even longer — if you can believe it — than “The Goldfinch.”

    It’s a massive time investment, but I couldn’t stop thinking of the characters. If you like Colum McCann’s “Let the Great World Spin,” you’ll really enjoy this.

    http://www.kathryndlewis.com

  94. Amy Varble says...

    The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah was a favorite along with The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende.

    • Tali says...

      I loved the Nighingale, what a book.

  95. K says...

    Love this list! I want to read all of these (and then make my way through the books in the comment section!). I never, ever used to re-read books I’ve read, but then I did a stint in publishing where you read every manuscript a half a dozen times or more before it becomes a book. There’s a different feeling to that kind of reading and more and more I find myself saying “I JUST WANT TO READ A BOOK I KNOW!” It’s very comforting to go in knowing you’ll like what happens and then it’s surprising how the book, still, somehow feels different. So, now running along side my mental list of “books to read” is a list of “books to re-read”…currently it features some deep cuts from high school—wonder what I’ll think of those now…. A childhood friend’s father used to read War and Peace every summer. I love that idea…maybe when my kids don’t need hawk-eye attention at the beach…ha!

  96. Jessie says...

    Seconding a lot of readers here, but here are my recent favorites:
    -A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
    -All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
    -Landline by Rainbow Rowell

    (and my guilty pleasure is embarrassingly … YA post apocalyptic. I just finished The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey and the Matched series by Ally Condie, and would highly recommend to any like-minded readers!!)

    • A Tale for the Time Being is one of the best books I read last year!! Beautifully written, it really stays with you.

  97. I’m currently reading Pretty Girls (it is AMAZING!), The Power of Now, Naked (a David Sedaris book, so you know it’s hilarious), The Silent Sister, and Wild (I know I’m so behind the curve on starting that one!)

    -Dara // http://www.peoniesandhoneybees.com

    • Rachel says...

      I just finished Pretty Girls Tuesday. Totally agree. I love devoured it.

  98. Stephanie says...

    The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt was one of the best books I have read in years. I read it last fall and I still think about it all the time. Also, any of Gillian Flynn’s books are fantastic

  99. Bethany says...

    Every woman should read “The Female Brain” by the American neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine. It’s a very approachable yet scientific look at how brain chemistry affects women from birth to old age. It’s so engrossing and informative. It really lays out the differences between men and women and how, very often, our brain chemistry is really in control when we think we are. This book is especially great for anyone with daughters!

  100. Oh I need to read ALL OF THESE!

  101. Favorites:

    A Thousand Splendid Suns
    The Perks of Being a Wallflower
    Crazy Love/Francis Chan
    Harry Potter (the best!)

    xx, Hannah

    http://www.missharwell.com

    • Ooo we are book buddies! Agree with all (Except A Thousand Splendid Suns. Never read but my husband did.) I need to reread Perks though. I read it back when MTV was trying to make books cool again and this was their first publish. That was like 7th grade. I don’t think I really “got” like, more than half of it!

  102. Jennifer says...

    The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt.
    The MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood

  103. Jesd says...

    Yes! I love the book posts. I have found my favourite ever books from your readers recommendation. Brilliant! I just finished The girl on the train. It’s a thriller like gone girl but very English. It’s amazing

  104. Lisa says...

    Carrie Brownstein’s Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl and it is fantastic.

  105. D says...

    Recent loves:

    A Man Called Ove
    The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
    A Tale for the Time Being
    Life After Life

    And I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. It’s old, but a friend recommended it and I ended up really loving it! If you’re not already on Good Reads you should join the website. You can add books that you’ve read and it will feed you new suggestions based on your ratings.

  106. Julina says...

    My most recent favorites:
    – All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
    – Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout
    – Our Souls at Night, Kent Haruf
    – A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley
    – Life After Life, Kate Atkinson
    – The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, Gabrielle Zevin

  107. Caroline says...

    I just finished When Breath Becomes Air. It was truly moving.
    Epilogue: A Memoir’s decsription reminds me of Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking which is one of my favorites.

  108. Mariele says...

    Middlemarch got me through marathon training last year – it was cozy and wonderful. I love Stephen King’s Dark Tower series and the Stand was excellent. I also loved Zealot by Reza Aslan. Right now I’m reading Prince of Tides (RIP) and it is wonderful.

    • Lydia says...

      What a wonderful and true way to describe Middlemarch. It is very cozy! My favorite Stephen King book is The Shining. There were times when I was too frightened to turn the page!

  109. Prudence says...

    I love reading as a child but have not been reading much these days, except for grace-based Christianity books! I find them important for my personal emotional and spiritual growth.

    Prudence
    http://www.prudencepetitestyle.com

    • Hannah says...

      Ah so you’re a fan of fiction then!

    • jen says...

      OK, Hannah made me laugh! Simon Doonan’s books are funny and true.

    • Mimi says...

      I agree Prudence. I have a long list of female Christian authors that help keep me grounded. (Lately, I have been reading articles on how to pray more mindfully).

      Here is a very short list of some authors I respect
      who have the gift of addressing a variety of topics that range from light to serious:

      Shauna Niequist “Bread and Wine”
      Jen Hatmaker “For the Love”
      Emily P. Freeman “Simply Tuesday”
      Melanie Shankle “Nobodys Cuter than You”
      Annie F. Downs “Looking for Lovely”
      Brene Brown “Daring to be Great”
      Elizabeth Gilbert, “Big Magic”
      Ann Voskamp, “One Thousand Gifts”
      …and the list goes on

  110. Lauren E. says...

    Just finished When Breath Becomes Air :)
    I thought I wouldn’t be able to read it on my commute for fear of openly weeping throughout the entire thing but I was relieved to find that I only openly wept at the end. It was insightful, motivating, inspirational, and a book I’ll come back to again and again.

    Now I’m reading The Light Between Oceans. It’s beautiful so far.

    And my ultimate favorite, for re-reading again and again, Slouching Toward Bethlehem.

  111. I’ve had ‘Blackout’ on my library loan list forever and I think I’m just going to have to buy it so I can finally read it. The Kindle sample hooked me right away!

    I accidentally got myself on a Young Adult (YA) kick after getting hooked on the author Jane Casey. I wasn’t even into YA when I was a young adult but somehow it’s really working for me right now. I really enjoyed ‘How to Fall’ and ‘Bet Your Life’ by her and also ‘The Burning’.

    Others that I’ve whipped through and enjoyed are:
    The Martian (Andy Weir)
    The Passenger (Lisa Lutz)
    The Moment of Everything (Shelly King)

    • I’ve been reading almost exclusively YA lately. I am not ashamed! Let me know if you need recos

  112. “Funny how much a book can change when your own life changes.” – This is true of SO MANY books. Don’t limit yourself to one to reread!!

  113. Lindsay says...

    I’m finishing up Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder now, and just ordered Tina Fey’s Bossypants :)

    • Kristen says...

      I went on an Ann Patchett binge last year. Love her.

    • christie says...

      I love state of wonder, It was magical.

  114. Katherine says...

    A few of my favorites:

    Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie
    Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
    Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

    A good book is one of my favorite things :)

    • Melissa says...

      Thank you for the suggestions! The Nightingale is one of my favorites of all time, and Americanah has been on my to-read list for a while. I didn’t know about Just Mercy so I looked it up on Goodreads and just reading the reviews made me cry. I definitely need to read this book.

  115. Am reading Erin Boyle’s Simple Matters, which I picked up after listening to her at The American Edit. I really want to read Epilogue: A Memoir.

  116. christie says...

    One Hundred Years of Solitude & The Signature of All Things,
    I can’t describe how much I love these books. I’m a sucker for very descriptive settings that pull me into a read.

    • chouette22 says...

      The Signature of all Things is brilliant, I agree!

  117. Acp says...

    Thank you for these posts…. Always looking for new book ideas although I’ve come to realize that books are so personal and even if one comes highly recommended the chances are good that it may not speak to me…. Sometimes you find a gem though – and for that, it’s worth sorting through all the others. :) I’m reading The Clasp now but struggling to finish.

  118. I re-read Harry Potter series after more than ten years and it was amazing:-). Now I´m reading Ketchup clound – it is a youn adult book, but with very interesting plot :-). Thanks for your recommendation.

  119. Oh Oh, sorry to double-post but my book recommendation is: 10% Human. It is sciency but quite easy to read and will BLOW YOUR MIND on our current health issues. xoxo

  120. Joanna – this comment is so beautifully on-point, “Funny how much a book can change when your own life changes.”

    I’ve found the same to be true of movies – when I re-watch Dazed & Confused for instance :) Or Love Actually. The way I felt in my teens & early twenties & how I relate to those books/movies now. Oh, also – Reality Bites.

    xoxo

  121. Jennifer says...

    Really love your blog Joanna. Stoner by John Williams is an all time favorite! One of the best books I’ve read in years!
    Greetz from Holland!

    • Ana says...

      Yes!! Stoner is absolutely unforgettable!

  122. Ana says...

    I’m in the middle of the Elena Ferrante’s tetralogy “My Brilliant Friend”. I’ve already read 2 out of 4 novels and I can’t praise them highly enough. The story is so feminine, so close to you…. it happens in Naples, a whole 60 years ago, but you can compare every single moment of that friendship to some moment you’ve lived – specially in the first book. It is unbelievable how women’s friendships can be so grandiose and yet so petty at the same time.

  123. Annie says...

    That beginning thought about asking questions is so true – not just about favorites, but about any question that asks for a superlative (“best” or “favorite” or “top” or “happiest”) – I’m a teacher, and if I want my students to be able to think on their feet and answer a question that’s similar to this, I ALWAYS rephrase it. Instead of asking for the weirdest thing that happened to them over spring break, for example, I’ll ask them for “one thing that happened that was weird.” Psychology!

    Anyway, books that I recommend! (Favorite topic! I’m an English teacher; can’t help myself. I’ll stick with books I’ve read in the last year!)
    “A Little Life” by Hanyi Yanigihara – anything that makes Man Booker lists is always a win for me. This was my most recent read. Even though it’s 800 pages, I flew through it in three days. It is heartbreaking (I sobbed through the last chapter), but so, so good.
    “A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon”
    “11/22/63” – This turned me onto the amazingness that is Stephen King
    the Robert Galbraith books (aka J.K. Rowling) – SO FUN.
    “Americanah”
    “Bel Canto”
    “Salem’s Lot” (yep, more Stephen King…)
    “Everything I Never Told You”

    Nonfiction:
    Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (inspiration for the musical!)
    Devil in the Grove – this was incredible
    The New Jim Crow
    Just Mercy (err… I apparently really like social justice books)
    Anything by Sarah Vowell
    Anything by Michael Lewis
    Walkable City
    All Joy and No Fun (about modern parenting)
    Dead Wake
    Citizens of London (easily one of my favorite nonfiction reads last year!)

    Memoirs – love me some memoirs
    Working Stiff – this is a FASCINATING look at being a forensic pathologist. She began her job in New York, two months before 9/11.
    Any chef memoirs – Marcus Samuelsson, Jacques Pepin, Anthony Bourdain…
    Anything by David Sedaris (although his later stuff seems a little manic/excessive to me)
    Buck by MK Asante

    Can’t wait to go back and read everyone’s recs!

    • Abby says...

      Chef memoir: read Blood, Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton. Unforgettable!

    • Melissa says...

      I second Blood, Bones and Butter! Also loved both of Molly Wizenburg’s books.

  124. Le Smurf says...

    JOANNA – you need to read Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Not my usual taste in books but it makes you think and breaks your heart in equal measures. Also, it’s terribly English (in setting etc) so I think you’d really enjoy! Xo

    • Alexandra says...

      I agree with this completely! They’re also making a movie (starring Daenerys Targaryen!)–out in June!

    • Totally agree–Me Before You is wonderful! Not sure what to make of the movie trailer (so hard when the book is so firmly planted in your own imagination!) but the book is truly memorable.

  125. Lisa M says...

    I looked on my bookshelf and all my books are biographies! I guess I love reading about people and their lives.

  126. Erin says...

    Lyrical writing and compelling story? Pat Conroy – best is Prince of Tides though I think that I have read them all…Beach Music, Great Santini, My Losing Season, Lords of Discipline, etc…

    Personal History by Katharine Graham is a great memoir too.

    Thanks for all the recs!

  127. I read “Me Before You” last year and I’m still thinking about it. Such a brilliant, heartbreaking book. It’s still one of only a few books that have ever made me cry big, fat tears.

    My current favourite is “Surprised by Motherhood” by Lisa-Jo Baker. It’s a wonderful book for any kind of mom, old, new, happy, sad. I recently survived a nasty bout of Post Natal Depression and this book was like a helping hand pulling me up through the darkness.

  128. Kristina says...

    I wonder if anyone has heard of the podcast “What Should I Read Next?” by the blogger Modern Mrs. Darcy. Every week she interviews an author or blogger. They tell her three books they love, one book they hate, and what they are currently reading. She then gives them three book recommendations. It’s a fun place to get ideas for new reading. Joanna, you would be a great guest on that show!

    • Love Modern Mrs Darcy!

    • Absolutely love Modern Mrs. Darcy & her podcast :)

  129. Amy says...

    I’ve recently read:
    -All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
    -Wonder by R. J. Palacio
    -The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

    They were all fantastic but The Nightingale really stuck with me. I would definitely recommend that one. I also just got My Name is Lucy Barton out of the library and am excited to start it. Thanks for the recs!

    • Lauren says...

      I love all of these books!

  130. I’m reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah at the moment and it’s rather a page-turner. The women are strong characters with contrasting personalities in the face of war.

  131. Sarah says...

    I just read The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Sonny Liew, after hearing it reviewed on NPR. It’s the first graphic novel I’ve ever read, and it was fantastic! It’s all about the history of Singapore told through the eyes of a fictional comic book artist, and the style of the book is always changing. So great.

  132. Teresa says...

    -The Storied Life of AJ Fikry
    -The Rosie Project
    -The Orphan Train

    I read a lot, and these three are 5 stars! Fast read but great stories!

  133. Amy says...

    One of the best books I’ve read recently was Blood, Bones and Butter by Chef Gabrielle Hamilton. I was blown away by her writing.
    Longtime favorites are The Poisonwood Bible and Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver, The Night Circus, Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, The Glass Castle, Like Water for Chocolate, Olive Kitteredge, A Prayer for Owen Meany, We Were the Mulvaneys, The Blind Assassin, Interpreter of Maladies, Cutting for Stone, Prince of Tides….. There are so many!

  134. Recently I’ve read most books work related or for personal development.
    But the last two book descriptions really caught my interest: life is so complex and it helps so much learning from other people’s experiences, feelings and the way they treated different situations in life.
    Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Carlsbad says...

      That sounds very uplifting. I just read cause I’m hooked and always have been. I’ll read the cereal box if I’m out of books.

  135. Brooke says...

    I recently read “A Mother’s Reckoning” by Sue Klebold. She was the mother of Dylan Klebold, who was one of the shooters at Columbine High School. I read quite a bit and it’s the best book I’ve read in years. Haunting, informative and heartbreaking! Also Anjelica Huston’s book “Watch Me” was SO GOOD. She’s had an unbelievble life.

  136. These sound really good. I just started reading The Secret Life of Bees again :) It’s such a great read.

    I’m gonna have to check some of these out…thanks for sharing!

    xo Azu

    http://www.raven-locks.blogspot.com

  137. Lorena says...

    Hello, there,
    I’m now reading your dearest Paul’s When Breath Becomes Air, so touching but also full of encouragenment, loving it, but i also wish he had not needed to write it and he would be still in your family, so sorry for your loss.
    Lately I have been reading Siri Hustvedt, Sorrows of an American, which I liked, but not as much as I did What I loved, which I loved. I have also been reading a Beasts by Carol Joyce Oats, great discovery, Black Water and Unholy Loves are waiting on my bed side table. It’s been great reading Natalia Ginzburg too.
    Dept. of Speculation was one of my favourite readings last year, and I also read Persepolis, as well and Cancer Vixen, because you recomended it, thanks! I also recomend Too much Hapiness by Alice Munro. As you can tell I am on this women author reading personal project and I’m loving it so far!
    Regads from Spain,
    Lorena

  138. Another nice component of asking this question is that you can learn a lot about a person by what books he/she likes to read!…and even more if they struggle to list books at all! I am currently reading MiddleSex by Jeffrey Eugenides-Totally brilliant!

  139. Mel Flohr says...

    In the middle of Middlesex. I am so happy that I didn’t discover it when it first came out, so that I can savor it now. Thank you for the recommendation.

    • J.D says...

      Middlesex is such a jem. It always makes me happy to see it mentioned!

  140. Molly says...

    Thank you for writing this post! I am an avid reader and love hearing other people’s favorites. Recently, I really loved Where’d You Go, Bernadette. I have also been meaning to re-read Anthony Keidis’s memoir Scar Tissue– he is the lead singer of Red Hot Chili Peppers. I happened to pick it up on vacation and got so sucked in, and I’m not even that big of a fan of there’s! For some reason it really stuck with me….

    • Nicole says...

      Molly–I loved Bernadette and Scar Tissue! If you find musicians memoirs intriguing I recommend Paul Stanley–Face the Music and Duff McKagan-It’s So Easy and Willie Nelson-It’s a Long Story: My Life.

      In general this past year I really enjoyed We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, The Architect’s Apprentice – Elif Shafak, and Girl at War by Sara Novic.

    • Jane says...

      Oh yeah I forgot about Scar Tissue – that was really good and I’m not even a fan of the band.

  141. I’ve been waiting for your yearly crowd-sourcing book post! Nothing better than reading yours and your readers lists of favorite books. So many great books out there right now and I’m always looking for new ones to add to my list so thank you for this gift!

    Some of my all-time favorites have been:
    – The Poinsonwood Bible
    – The Red Tent
    -The Goldfinch
    -All The Light We Cannot See
    -Freedom
    -Cutting For Stone
    -Shantaram
    -And The Mountains Echoed
    -Me Before You
    – The Book Thief
    -Fates and Furies
    -The Nightingale
    -A Little Life — Just finished it recently and must say, it’s probably my all-time favorite book. It absolutely gutted me — brutal yet hauntingly beautiful. I’m still mourning it ending and will forever miss Jude + Willem + JB + Malcolm.
    -The Nest — Just started it, seems like the the big buzz book of the moment. It hooked me right away. Good follow-up to A Little Life.

  142. Dee says...

    Just did a book marathon while sick in bed for 2 weeks. Would recommend them all:
    1. All the light we cannot see
    2. Americanah
    3. Fates and Furies
    4. Brain on Fire
    And because all were sort of heavy, I read two by Ruth Reichl:
    1. Garlic and Sapphires
    2. Comfort me with apples

    • Dee says...

      By the way, the reason I was in bed sick is because I had a bad case of pink eye – so I basically just cringed at the pic!! Kids, dont touch your eyes!!

  143. I just finished my annual re-read of the Harry Potter series, and right now i am reading I am Malala [heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time] and Modern Romance [insightful and entertaining, with a side of Aziz Ansari’s wit thrown in for good measure]. It’s been a good year in books so far!

  144. Jenn says...

    I had to come on again…because a few years ago, I read “The Art of Hearing Heartbeats” and could not put it down. I thought about it after for days. It is so great.

    • Yes!! I was cruising the comments seeing if someone would mention this. I just finished a couple weeks ago… during a class I was substitute teaching. It was a major struggle not to cry during the last pages! So incredibly beautiful.

  145. Katrina says...

    I’m currently reading Clementine, a biography about Winston Churchills wife. It’s amazing to learn about the strong and opinionated woman who supported and even drove much of his successful political career. I’d recommend it.

  146. Lindsay says...

    I’m surprised The Paris Wife hasn’t been mentioned yet! One of those that I was swept up by and think of often. I loved it.

    • Jasmine says...

      *raises hands* me too!! I devoured that book and was left enchanted.