This is going to be a work-in-progress. I loved reading as a child, but as an adult got into the mindset that I should only read business or self-improvement books. Making time to read fiction and whatever else I want has brought me amazing joy. And who doesn’t want more joy in their lives?
I’m always looking for my next read and will share my favorites with you. The lists below are just titles, authors, and my brief thoughts on why I loved or not. I’ve linked to Amazon simply to make your life easier to click. Most of my reads are through the NYC Public Library system and Libby. and Feel free to ask me for more info if you are interested, and I’d love to hear your favorites and why.
loves + likes
- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
This book replaced my long-time favorite, Pride and Prejudice. Of course, very different in subject, tone, and almost everything else, The Goldfinch follows a young boy through a lot of ups and downs. It’s a really long book, but completely worth it. Also love that it is set in NYC and can’t wait for the movie to be released.
- Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
This is now my second favorite. Extremely long, but similar to The Goldfinch in that it chronicles a good man’s sufferings and triumphs, many of each which Lin brings upon himself.
- The Mountain Shadow by Gregory David Roberts
The sequel to Shantaram. Lin is a good bad boy, and it was good to find out the end game for him.
- Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
A sad but inspirational story that chronicles the life of a Lithuanian teenage girl and her family in the aftermath of Stalin’s seizure and deportation of anyone identified as an anti-Soviet element.
- American Panda by Gloria Chao
A short read, but not really light-hearted. This book highlights the struggle of second generation immigrants to follow the traditions of their home countries and assimilate into their lives in America.
- Austenland by Shannon Hale
Not a deep story, but a fun, fast escape if you are a Jane Austen fan.
- Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale
I’m a little embarrassed by this sequel, but I needed some lightness after another few chapters of A People’s History of the United States.
- Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
I enjoyed this more serious version of Groundhog’s Day.
- Sociable by Rebecca Harrington
This book makes you cringe over and over as the millennial main character makes her way in the world, personally and professionally.
- The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
A cute, romantic adventure about two young adults who meet on basically the worst possible day.
- The Whole World Over by Julia Glass
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
- The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
A really beautiful memoir on losing your spouse and adjusting to life after. I love her writing style. I think this will be a good one for anyone who has experienced grief.
- There There by Tommy Orange
One of the things I love about reading is that I can get a glimpse into worlds that I don’t know a lot about. This book is about the lives of several Native Americans in Oakland and beyond. Although I have been sympathetic to the Native American plight, I now have deeper insights into what life can be like in the generations beyond the United States’ heartless genocide.
- The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
I don’t think I realized that Coates was a fiction writer since Between the World and Me was my first experience with his writing. Thanks to him for always giving me a perspective beyond myself. His insight that there is a difference between motive for those who were slaves and those who were helping end slavery – personal vs. a cause.
- The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
It’s amazing how much impact a house can have on a family. You would probably enjoy this one if you liked The Goldfinch.
- The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
I am drawn to all of the beautiful and haunting books about the horrible things we did to African Americans, and this one is a must-read, along with The Underground Railroad.
- The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
The sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale – definitely worth a read if you enjoyed the first one. A different perspective on Aunt Lydia (without giving too much away).
- Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
How can you not read a book about children that spontaneously combust?
- Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
I can’t remember what veered me to this oldie, but it was an interesting read. I totally pictured Natasha Lyonne as Neely as I was reading.
- The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer
Loved this one for the story and the historical context. I realize now how bad my WWII knowledge actually is.
- Normal People by Sally Rooney
Follows the life of sorta high school sweethearts. A little bit reminiscent of Moonlighting or When Harry Met Sally or other stories where people keep self-sabotaging their own relationship. I believe this is being made into a miniseries or movie.
- Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
Loved this look into a divorced man’s dating life with kids, with the added anxiety of an ex-wife who decides to take a break from her life.
- The Genius Habit by Laura Garnett
If you are searching for even more meaning in your career, this book is for you. She can help find your genius and purpose so you can channel them into your worklife.
- Exhalation by Ted Chiang
I don’t normally read short stories, but these sci-fi-ish tales of extremely varying lengths are really interesting.
- Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
A kidnapping of two young girls takes us into the lives of many connected in some way to the tragedy.
- Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
This one is a long read, but it’s a wonderful story of twins born to a nun and a doctor in Ethiopia. It follows their lives and draws you into their joys and sorrows, and it made me crave Ethiopian food as they described their meals.
- The Man in the High Castle by Philip Dick
We watched part of this series, but there are little similarities to the book. Still, it was an interesting (and a little scary) read set in the US about an alternative history in which the Axis won World War II.
- Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior by Jonah Berger
Really interesting read. I kept sharing little bits that I couldn’t hold back with my husband. If you are intrigued by marketing or human psychology, this book will engage and entertain you.
- The Jetsetters by Amanda Eyre Ward
Everyone in this novel has a hidden sorrow, and I enjoyed getting to know the characters and seeing how each one’s secret came out as the family cruised around Greece.
- The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson
Expanding my genres a bit, I really enjoyed the first-hand accounts from the entourages of both the British and German leadership in the latter part of WWII.
- My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
Disturbing, but probably very realistic story about a young girl who falls into the trap of her teacher at boarding school. So sad how it affected her entire life. Probably not for anyone who endured any type of sexual abuse.
- Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
I’m happy to see that this book is currently unavailable to purchase as a hard copy on Amazon, but don’t let that keep you from the electronic version. Written as a daily short passage with journaling questions, it continues to provide an education for me and help me think through my part in racism.
- The Night Watchman by Lois Erdrich
A look into the “emancipation” of Native Americans from a fictional perspective – an education on the plight inflicted by our government.
- I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella
The cringeworthy heroine, Fixie, in this novel is the compulsive and insecure member of the family, but she finds her wings for herself and her family.
- The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
This story is both heart-wrenching and uplifting about the life of a Jew relegated to the concentration camp who was able to survive by his wits and good deeds.
- The Kill Artist by Daniel Silva
The first in a series about a spy turned art restorer turned back to spy. I’ll be reading the rest of the series.
- Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
This book is a beautiful story interwoven with facts and figures on mass incarceration to break your heart and inspire you to action. Highly recommended.
- The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Interesting to read about old NYC society and the gender roles and aspirations.
- A Bigger Prize: How We Can Do Better Than the Competition by Margaret Heffernan
After hearing Ms. Heffernan speak, I found this title on Libby. Her hypothesis is that we can be more successful by collaboration rather than competition, which really speaks to me. More research and theory than practical advice, but worth the read. Not a quick finish by any stretch.
- The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow
Lovely account of the most annoying Bennet sister, Mary. You should read this if you are a fan of Pride and Prejudice.
- Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
Focuses on being vulnerable and brave as leaders. I like the fact that she references topics from her earlier books and gives concrete examples of things to do to be a better leader.
- The English Assassin + The Confessor by Daniel Silva
This series gives me a break from some of the heavier reading while also educating me on the modern history of Jews.
- Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
A British perspective on the system race issue.
- Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
A fun, motivating, and though-provoking read by a therapist about her clients and her own therapy.
- Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
This book was recommended to me by many people, and I’m read it for a book club discussion. It takes a look at the unspoken class system we have created in America, comparing it to systems in India and Nazi Germany. A worthy read.
- A Death in Vienna by Daniel Silva
Book 4 in the Gabriel Allon series. I’m addicted to these as a respite from my non-fiction and this one did not disappoint.
- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
The personal stories brought this book to life while Dr. Kendi helped understand different aspects of antiracism and made the interesting and valid argument that “the source of racist ideas was not ignorance and hate, but self-interest.”
- The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal
Traveling through India with three sisters as they learned to regain their closeness and rely on each other after their mother’s death was a fun and heart-warming adventure to read.
- Separation Anxiety by Laura Zigman
This is one of those books that has you cringing for the characters over and over again. I mean the woman is carrying a dog around in a baby sling – need I say more?
- Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski
Some good tips here, but sometimes strikes an overly-feminist tone.
couldn’t finish (although I really wanted to)
- Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
First of all, I love science and Neil deGrasse Tyson, but I have learned that I do not learn (or care very much about learning) astrophysics. If you are fascinated with dark matter and black holes, this is for you.
- Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Really strange. The concept is that Lincoln’s son who died is sorta stuck in the afterlife, maybe because his father is so attached to him.
- Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino
Her first essay had some interesting throwbacks to the early internet, but I tired quickly of the millennial perspective and decided to move on.
- If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino
Started this one, but didn’t finish by the time it was due and not in a hurry to go back. Would that be ironic since the collection of stories always leave you hanging in the end?
- Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey
This one wasn’t for me. I was getting annoyed by the male lead saying things like, “You have to come home, wife,” and “You know you can’t resist, honey girl,” not realizing that I had checked out a romance novel. Full disclosure, I am a fan of some romance types – enjoyed both the Fifty Shades and Crazy Rich Asians series – but I returned this one halfway through.
- A Promised Land by Barack Obama
Does this one really need a description?
- Apeirogon by Colum McCann
While following the lives of two men – one Israeli and one Palestinian – who lost daughters to political violence, McCann also delivers interesting snippets about birds, correspondence between Freud and Einstein, Arabian Nights, and other topics. It’s a long read, but really interesting so far.