Books have a strange sort of power to completely transform parts of you, even if that transformation is only temporary. You're able to live different lives, travel around the world and through time, and more, just by picking up a book. There's a hazard, however, when it comes to selecting the books you want to read. How do you know if the book is any good or if you'll invest time (and maybe money) in what turns out to be a dud? If you choose one of the totally mind-blowing books skyrocketing in popularity, however, you probably won't have to worry as much that you'll have picked the wrong one. These books have repeatedly captivated readers, some for decades and others for the very first time.
Books can be an escape, but they can also be a way to take a deep-dive into some of the stories relevant today and learn all about the intricacies of why things are the way that they are. Regardless of if you're trying to escape, just want to be entertained for a while, or are trying to learn a little something, these books are gems that you not only won't want to end, but about which you'll be thinking again and again.
This biography of General and Pesident Ulysses S. Grant goes farther to tell you the parts of his life story that you may not have heard before. The ups and downs of Grant's life, both before and after the Civil War and his presidency, show, as Barnes & Noble's website says, how Grant could "at once be so ordinary and so extraordinary." It was also one of the chain's best-selling book of the year.
2. Turtles All The Way Down
John Green fans had to wait a while for the best-selling author's newest novel, but Turtles All the Way Down was very well-received by critics and fans alike. The book, about young Aza, an amateur detective who's also increasingly battling her own thoughts, will strike a chord with anyone who has or knows someone — like Green himself — who has OCD. Even if you don't have a connection to the condition, this book will give you a glimpse inside what it's really like.
4. Little Fires Everywhere
This story takes place in an idyllic Midwestern suburb focused on success and progress. The Richardson family is perfect in pretty much every way. But then Mia Warren comes to town and rents a house from them. When a friend's planned adoption ignites a custody battle that forces the town to choose sides, Mia and Elena Richardson, the matriarch of the family, wind up on opposite sides. As the battle wears on, secrets come out.
5. Before We Were Yours
This book is based on the Memphis adoption scandal wherein Georgia Tann, the director of an adoption organization "kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country." It tells the story of Rill Foss and her siblings in Memphis in 1939, fighting to stay together after being placed in a home when their parents had to rush to the hospital for an emergency, and how those events can change the course of a family's history.
6. The Last Mrs. Parrish
Daphne Parrish and her husband Jackson seem to be the perfect couple with the perfect life. Amber Patterson, sick with jealousy and watching from afar, begins to scheme about how she can get the life that she feels she's entitled to have — Daphne's. Will Amber's plan work out? Or will secrets from her past dash her hopes?
7. One Of Us Is Lying
Five students receive detention, but only four make it out alive. Investigators ruled the student's death a homicide and decide that, because he was going to reveal secrets about each one, each has motive and each is a suspect. But did any of them really do it?
8. Into The Water: A Novel
This book, by Paula Hawkins, the best-selling author of The Girl On The Train, is about two drownings and the secrets that come to light afterwards. A teenage girl and a single mother both drown in the town's river in one summer. The mother's daughter ends up in the care of a relative, a stranger, who takes her back to place she wasn't ready to return. What happened? And why?
9. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir Of A Family And Culture In Crisis
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance, $16, Amazon
This memoir, about the Vance family and the white working class people of the Rust Belt, helps shed light on the realities of life for these Rust Belt workers, as well as what upward class mobility looks like and how it's not always the magical answer that some people think that it is. This book enjoyed wide acclaim when it was published in 2016, but it's kept a presence on Amazon's list of best-sellers in 2017 too.
10. Killers Of The Flower Moon: The Osage Murders And The Birth Of The FBI
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBIby David Grann, $16, Amazon
This book, which came in at number 12 on Amazon's list of most-sold non-fiction books, tells the story of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma in the 1920s and what happened after they found oil beneath their land and started to be killed one after another. These cases (taken as one whole case) were some of the FBI's first murder investigations and were poorly handled. In an attempt to right the wrongs of the initial investigation and figure out what actually happened, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover tapped a man named Tom White to lead the investigation. The team went undercover and learned more than they ever expected to.
11. Beartown: A Novel
This book, by best-selling author Fredrik Backman, was Amazon's number one best-seller in sports fiction. It tells the story of a scandal in a small town united by hockey, disbelief that such a crime could ever occur there, and the pressure and importance of speaking up.
12. The Handmaid's Tale
One of Margaret Atwood's most-iconic works, The Handmaid's Tale was originally published in 1985, but surged in popularity again recently, in part due to the development of the Hulu series of the same name. The book takes place in the future, when what was once the United States has become the Republic of Gilead. The leaders of Gilead rule according to the Book of Genesis and completely restructure society. If you haven't read it yet, now is your chance.
13. A Gentleman In Moscow: A Novel
Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to house arrest in a hotel located across the street from the Kremlin by the Bolsheviks in 1922 Russia. He's not permitted to leave the attic room in which he lives and is forced to watch from afar as the course of Russian history is forever changed. Over time, Rostov meets, depends on, and eventually befriends the working class staff within the hotel, which changes his life — and his sentence.
14. Big Little Lies
Big Little Lies was published in 2015, but the book has enjoyed enduring popularity pretty much since then, especially after HBO announced that it would produce a miniseries based on the novel. The book tells the story of young mom, Jane, mom of twins, Celeste, and divorced mom, Madeline. Celeste and Madeline "adopt" Jane, so to speak, when she moves to town, but soon they'll come to realize just how much the town's newest resident will impact each of them.
15. The Glass Castle
Jeannette Walls' memoir was originally published in 2006, but was adapted into a movie in 2017. The release of the film made the book popular once again, though, it was popular when it was released as well, and for awhile after. While Walls' father was brilliant and taught them all kinds of things, he also became destructive when he drank. Her mother was flighty and so the kids took care of themselves and one another. Eventually, they moved to New York, where their homeless parents followed them. It's a story about resiliency and family that you won't forget.
16. Manhattan Beach
This book tells the story of Anna Kerrigan, who, as a girl, goes with her father to visit a man named Dexter Styles for some mysterious purpose. Skip ahead to World War II, when Anna gets a job as a diver at the Brooklyn Naval Yard. Her father has since disappeared. Then, Dexter Styles reappears in her life, illuminating part of her past.
17. The Women In The Castle
When World War II ends, Marianne, the widow of a man involved in the failed plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, returns to her husband's family's Bavarian castle. Marianne had promised her husband's co-conspirators that she would track down and protect each of their wives and this book tells the story of her campaign to do just that.
18. A Wrinkle In Time
Though A Wrinkle in Time was originally published in 1962, the forthcoming film adaptation, starring Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, and Oprah Winfrey, among others, and directed by Ava DuVernay, has reignited interest in the book. Meg Murry, her brother Charles Wallace, and classmate Calvin, travel through a wrinkle in time to save Meg's father from evil. It's a book that's captivated audiences for decades and if you haven't read it yet, there's still time before the movie comes out in 2018.
19. Beneath A Scarlet Sky
This book, about Pino, an Italian teenager who, during World War II, helps Jews escape to safety over the Alps, will keep you interested from the beginning to the end. Pino falls in love with Anna, a widow several years older. Hoping to keep him safe, Pino's parents make him enlist in the German army where, eventually, he ends up as the personal driver for General Hans Leyers, one of Hitler's most important generals in Italy. This change of position means that he can now spy for Allied forces, but what is he risking in order to do so?
20. All The Light We Cannot See
21. Ready Player One
This book is about the future, 2044 to be exact. In this future, teenager Wade Watts escapes the grim reality of the real world by getting involved with a virtual world full of puzzles called OASIS. The problem? Because the person who solves the puzzles will be awarded vast power, some are willing to go above and beyond to make sure it's them. Now, Wade's life might be at stake.
22. The Child Finder
Young Madison Culver disappeared three years ago while with her family in a forest to pick out a Christmas tree. The family, still hopeful and desperate to bring their daughter home after all this time, recruits a private investigator named Naomi that is especially good at locating children. As she starts investigating, Naomi uncovers conflict and loss within herself that she's forgotten exists and hopes that by finding Madison, she'll be able to remember.
24. Lilac Girls
Lilac Girls tells the stories of three young women during World War II. Caroline is a New York socialite working at the French consulate. Kasia is teenager in Poland, where she works for the resistance, when Hitler's army invades in 1939. Herta is a German doctor who takes a job working for the Nazis as a way to escape her desperate circumstances. You won't want to put it down.
25. Lincoln In The Bardo
This story of historical fiction is about President Abraham Lincoln's son Willie's death at the beginning of the Civil War. Willie Lincoln, buried in a Georgetown cemetery, ends up stuck in a sort of purgatory, making friends, enemies, and more with the other ghosts stuck in the bardo alongside him. What will happen to Willie's soul? You'll want to find out.
Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:
Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.