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I have an affinity for books. I’ve been reading more books a week than the average person for many years now. It’s what I do with most of my spare time.

Everyone seems to know this about me. And so, at least once a week, someone in my circle is in the mood for a good book, and asking me what I think.

That means we browse my bookshelves or the stacks of books that seem to appear everywhere. It’s crazy; I’m the type of person who craves order, and yet I have tables and corners packed with books. I keep thinking it may be time to take a cue from Marie Kondo, author of “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”

Anyway, of the many books I’ve read, I have a short list of those that continually come to mind. These are the books that when finished, linger for a while because they resonate emotionally with me.  Sometimes, months later I find myself thinking about the characters or the book’s message. Below are a few such books.

“The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.”
– J.D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye

Little Fires Everywhere By Celeste Ng

First, this novel deals with many complex issues, but at its core, this is a story about mothers and daughters –  class and conformity. Celeste Ng shows us three very different mothers and a perfectly designed community. While reading this book, I couldn’t help but compare Mrs. Richardson and Mia and the choices they made. I was quite surprised when my perspective started to change on some of the issues. Especially since the characters remained constant and true to form.   (More on this Book here)

The Twelve Live of Samuel Hawley By Hannah Tinti

On one level, this is a beautiful coming of age story. But on a deeper level it’s about the unconventional relationship between a father and daughter. He’s imperfect but entirely devoted to her, she’s vulnerable and easily influenced, which begs the question – if someone is flawed are they still deserving of our love and support?   (More on this book here)

Defending Jacob By William Landay

This is an amazing mystery, not only one with incredible pacing making it impossible to put down but also one that kept me guessing – the unexpected, stunning twist at the end will keep you thinking about this books for a long time, wondering what clue you missed.   (More on this book here)

Ordinary Grace By William Kent Krueger

Every so often you pick up a book without knowing anything about it, just start reading and fall in love with it. This emotional book will take you back to your childhood days, especially the hot carefree, summer days. It’s a book about looking for life’s answers and moving on after a tragedy. Beautifully written and poignant with characters that get into your head.   (More on this book here)

Burial Rites By Hannah Kent

A haunting story and one of the most atmospheric that I’ve read. It’s inspired by actual events that took place in Iceland in 1828. A young woman, convicted of murder is sent to live with a Christian family forced to take her in because of a lack of prisons. It’s hard to put into words the beauty of this book, the emotions that surface while reading it, and the level of despair you feel along with Agnes as she awaits her fate.  (More on this book here)

Night Circus By Erin Morgenstern

Storytelling at its finest. A poetic, brilliant puzzle of a book that transports you to another world and takes your breath away.  And, like any circus it’s a dazzling extravaganza of wonderful imagery and delightful characters. I doubt you have read anything like it.   (More on this book here)

“Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life.”
― Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

A Reliable Wife By Robert Goolrick

I started reading this book because I was curious about mail order brides. However, once I started reading, I was amazed at the intensity of the writing style and the plotting. This dark, mesmerizing tale is impossible to put down and impossible to forget.                                    (More on this book here)

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Sometimes you just need pure escape – a book that is fun to read, a delightful story with no strings attached. This is the tale of Evelyn Hugo, a glamorous aging actress, married seven times, and with many scandalous stories to tell. You will keep forgetting it’s fiction because it reads like the tell-all memoir of a famous Hollywood star scratching her way to the top; think Marilyn Monroe or Elizabeth Taylor. You won’t want to put this one down.  (More on this book here)

News of the World By Paulette Jiles

When Johanna is six, the Kiowa Indians capture her. She lives with them for four years, forgetting her past, learning their ways. This is the story of her journey home. Captain Kidd, needing the money, agrees to transport her the 400 miles back home to Texas after the army rescues her. Guard your heart, because the relationship that develops between this young girl and the 70-year-old captain is nothing short of magnificent. (More on this book here)

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright

First, I love that the inspiration for this book is a documentary film Wright’s son was filming in Cambodia – River of Victory. You may think this is a dark story if you read the summary, but it’s not. Sang Li’s journey is profoundly moving, and the resounding message throughout the book is one of hope, perseverance, and happiness. The author shows us many inspiring life lessons throughout this beautifully written tale.   (More on this book here)

You may also enjoy:

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Books We’re Loving- New And Old Favorites Alike.

Books I Love …To Read Again & Again

This is a great choice for Book Cubs

Happy Reading,


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  1. 1
    Kathy Davis

    PLEASE……………………….do not discount Stephen King. 11~22~63…………………..AMAZING story…………….not all the stories by him are scary.
    NO OTHER writer has made me feel like he is sitting in front of me just talking and telling a story.

    • 2
      Sherrie Lidderdale

      I agree completely. I have never been a King fan but when I heard about this book I pre-ordered it and then paced in the driveway like a maniac waiting for the mailman to deliver it. It was even better than I had expected. For me having lived in Dallas and being 18 when Kennedy was assassinated it had every kind of nostalgia that I could relate to. It had romance, humor, suspense and a little history thrown in. I’ve read it twice since then and my husband and I listened to it on a road trip. I haven’t read a book since then that resonated with me the way that that one did. What a wonderful intro into the talents of Stephen King. Since then I’ve read several King books (not the creepy ones) and have enjoyed them all. King is a fine writer and more importantly a fine story-teller.

      • 3
        Sharon Topping

        Sherrie, to what novel of Stephen King are making reference? You have sparked my interest and I wish to read this one. Of course, I have read some of King’s books and find them really great. Thanks, Sharon

      • 5
        Winnie Little

        I’m not the person who posted about the King book but I thought I would reply since she had not. 11-22-63 by Stephen King. Very good book. King is excellent writer but I cannot always handle his books. 11-22-63 is excellent. However, it does include time travel. Don’t let that stop you. Also On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft is excellent.

  2. 7
    free pdf books

    Thank you for another informative blog. The place else could I am getting that type of info written in such an ideal way?

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  3. 8
    Linda Doyle

    I’ve read all but two of the books on your list here, and based on your spot-on evaluations, which I completely agree with, I’m now ordering the other two (The Rent Collector and Night Circus). Thanks! Can’t wait to get started on them when they arrive.

  4. 10

    The Night Circus is in my top 5 favorite books of all time. It is wonderful, magical, inspiring, beautiful….I could keep going. If you have the chance, listen to the audible version. It is done extremely well and does the book a wonderful justice. I never stop recommending this book.

  5. 11

    “Night Circus” is one of my very favorites! It is my number one recommendation to anyone and everyone!

    Read “Church of Marvels”! It is the book that turned me on to “Night Circus” and was so wonderful.

  6. 12

    I have read all but two of the books listed (“Night Circus” and “7 Husbands…”) and I loved all of them! This is a great list, so I will be sure to read the two I have missed. Thx!

  7. 13

    So excited for new books! Night Circus and Burial Rites are next on my list!

  8. 15

    Burial Rites and Night Circus!!! I never see them on other lists but they are such gems! Also a great fan of 11-22-63. An exceptional book!

  9. 16
    Hildred Sullivan

    If The Night Circus is on the list that is good enough for me. I enjoyed all the rest, too. The only one I didn’t read was The Rent Collector. I’ll put it on my TBR list now for sure. Recent fabulous recommended reads are Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout and The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. I never miss the Chief Inspector Gamache series or Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad books. I’ve given lots of people Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee and Elena Ferrante’s Neopolitan novels. GuessI’d better stop here.

  10. 18
    Wendy Thorburn

    I have just read The Signiture of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. This is a brilliant book, not a light read but a must. Would love to hear other readers comments. Wendy

    • 19

      Elizabeth Gilbert one of my favorite authors. Wonderful storyteller. Signature of all Things is a great book. I read it years ago. I do remember some of the scientific explorations a bit much, but still loved the book.

  11. 20
    Petra Deason

    I have never understood all the praise for The Night Circus. I read it when it first came out. It is an interesting tale at first but it starts to drag after a while and the ending left me disappointed. It eventually climaxes in a big build up to…not much.

    • 21
      Heather Guile

      I agree Petra that the story starts to drag and the ending was a dud, but then I looked at the book as a whole and fell in love all over again. I have never read a story that made me have such vivid, in color, visual stimulation of only things written about. That is what makes this book special. I believe it is magical and makes each person that reads it transformed into another world.

    • 22

      Petra, there is absolutely nothing wrong in liking or disliking a book. I think we all have a personality, lifestyle, or disposition (or what every you’d like to call it) that is attracted to certain stories. We’re truly fortunate to love stories. Happy reading!

    • 23
      Meredith DuHamel

      I have tried twice to get into The Niggt Circus with no luck. And I am an avid reader. I read a very eclectic assortment of books. But this one just never grabbed my attention.

  12. 24

    I loved The Rent Collector! I also really loved The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley and Burial Rites. I have never understood the hype about The Night Circus. I have tried twice to read it and each time, I stopped due to boredom. I am an avid reader, reading almost a book a day. But this is one book that I just couldn’t get into. I also loved News of the World. I haven’t read the other but will add them to my TBR list.

    I would like to add a few:

    The Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama
    The Flower Net by Lisa See
    Race Against Time by Jerry Mitchell
    The Salaryman’s Wife by Sujata Massey
    Leaving Atlanta
    What is the What
    The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon
    Only Child by Rhiannon Navin
    The Round House by Louise Erdrich

    I hope you all try some of these books. They’re from many different genres. Enjoy!

    • 27

      Loved all three of these books. Have recommended them many times. Also, have read and loved Seven Husbands, and Ordinary Grace.

  13. 28
    Lee Kaplan

    I fell in love with “The Night Circus”. I tried reading Morgenstern’s next book, “The Starless Sea”. Got halfway through, found it too repetitive in its focuses.

  14. 29

    I was interested to read the book reviews being an avid reader. However, my confidence in the recommendations was knocked when I noticed the misuse of an apostrophe in one of the reviews.

    ‘Storytelling at it’s finest’ should be ‘storytelling at its finest’ being the possessive use of ‘its’.

  15. 30

    Oh Sarah, not all of us are grammarians. But that doesn’t mean we’re not qualified to express an opinion. An opinion, however stated, is really important to the reviewer. She/he believes they had something important to impart. Soften your judgment and you might be surprised at what you might learn from the “unqualified” reviewer.

  16. 31

    Sarah and Grace, I missed the apostrophe as I was skimming only books I’d read or had had recommended. My confidence in the opinions of this writer/reviewer was diminished when ‘memorizing’ was used instead of ‘mesmerizing.’

    If an writer wants to be taken seriously, editing and proofreading are a must.

  17. 32

    Thank you for these recommendations. I read a lot and don’t like a lot of the mainstream pop stuff. I have read several on your list and enjoyed them so I am working my way through the rest of your authors. Thank you for giving me books that keep you thinking.

  18. 33

    I LOVED Ordinary Grace. Also, This Tender Land by the same author.

  19. 37
    Ann Feifel

    Can I make a recommendation? She’s Come Undone, by Wally Lamb

    I can’t say enough good about this book about a woman, written by a man. You laugh, you cry, and it hits every other emotion you have. My favorite!

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