Any time of the year is a good time to get lost in a good book. While some people think reading is for winter, when they can snuggle up under a blanket with a mug of tea or cocoa, feeling all cozy and content, and others think reading is for summer, when they can lounge poolside or on the beach, cold cocktail, water, or juice in hand, any time that you happen upon a book that sucks you in and changes your thinking is a good time for reading. The best books are the books you'll fall in love with, which, though some people think you should read frothier books in the summer and more serious books in the winter, can be discovered by happenstance or intentionally sought out all year long.
Some stories, characters, or writing styles are easy to fall in love with, while others take more work or just don't affect you in the same way. The best books, the books that remind you how much you love to read, even when you forget or feel as though you simply don't have time to do so, are those that let you get lost in the story. These books are sure to do just that.
1. The Secret History
A group of college students in New England are exposed to new ways of thinking, living, and being, thanks to their classics professor. But matters of life and death — of survival and murder — might turn out to be darker, more sinister, and more complicated than they may have thought.
2. The Widow
When Jean's husband was suspected of committing a crime, Jean herself fell silent and stayed supportive. Years later, however, her husband dies and now everyone wants to hear what she hasn't said for so long.
3. The Sun Is Also A Star
Teenager Natasha doesn't believe in fate, but she meets Daniel on a crowded New York City bus and feels herself start to fall for him. She's adamant that, with her family close to being deported to Jamaica, she won't actually fall in love with him after all. That's just not how it's going to happen. Daniel — and the universe — might have something else to say, though.
4. Saints For All Occasions
Sisters Nora and Theresa leave their tiny Irish village for a new life in Boston. Younger sister Theresa ends up pregnant, and now Nora has to figure out how to handle it. Fifty years later, they're both still living in America — Nora is married with a gaggle of children and grandchildren and Theresa is a cloistered nun living in Vermont. When someone dies suddenly, the two sisters have to reconnect and face what happened in their past, all those years ago.
5. Never Let Me Go
Many years ago, when they were children, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were schoolmates at a prestigious boarding school in Britain. Now, as adults, they've reconnected. How will their lives then and their presence in each other's lives once again change the way they know themselves and each other?
6. The Rules Do Not Apply
Levy, a writer for The New Yorker, left for Mongolia on a reporting trip pregnant, married, successful, and perfectly fine, finance-wise. Little did she know, all of that was about to change. Her New Yorker piece, "Thanksgiving in Mongolia," which won her an award, tells part of this story (and was written before the memoir). It's the story of how her life came together, fell apart, and how she tried to move forward to rebuild once again.
7. Luckiest Girl Alive
Ani endured high school humiliation and has definitely not left the memories behind. She's worked hard to move forward though, and has a fiancé, job, and life to match. She also has a secret. The only question that remains is if it'll be enough to destroy her perfectly-curated life.
8. Rules Of Civility
Katey, a 25-year-old young woman, meets a handsome (and wealthy) banker at a jazz club in Greenwich Village in 1937 without knowing how much — or how quickly — her life will change as a result. After a while, Katey finds herself a part of New York's high society, trying to navigate foreign situations while relying on the person she's always been.
9. Sing, Unburied, Sing
Thirteen-year-old Jojo is growing up in Mississippi, trying to figure out what it means to be a man. His mother, who is addicted to drugs, is rarely there for him and his younger sister. His father is in prison, but is soon to be released. How will his family navigate the issues they face? And will having a black mother who is unreliable, a white father who is completely absent, a white grandfather who pretends he doesn't exist, and a black grandfather who's helping him grow up affect what he knows about family relationships and love?
10. A Separation
A woman and her husband agree to separate, but don't tell anyone. When she finds out that Christopher has gone missing in a remote part of southern Greece, she agrees to search for him. Along the way, she'll find all manner of details about her marriage and the man she shared her life with that she never knew about before, all the while not knowing for sure if she actually wants to find him or not.
11. Undress Me In The Temple Of Heaven
Susan Jane Gilman and her friend Claire didn't just want to get a job and settle down, so they decided to go backpacking around the world when they had graduated from college, starting in China. While it was supposed to be a fun adventure, things quickly took a turn, leaving the women unprepared for all they would face.
12. A Little Life
This book tells the story of four friends from college growing up and moving to New York City in search of success. As expected, there will be hiccups along the way. Things won't always go the way you'd hope or wish they would and some setbacks can be downright devastating. How will the friends cope? How will they survive? And how will their lives change as a result?
13. Forest Dark
Jules, a man in his late 60s, a lawyer, reeling from a divorce as well as his parents' deaths, begins to give away all of his possessions and decides to head for Tel Aviv. A young, successful female novelist also decides to go to Tel Aviv, which she's visited annually since birth, leaving her family behind in Brooklyn. Both meet people working on their own projects, who suck them in and change the course of their visits to the city.
14. The Unbecoming Of Mara Dyer
The first in a series, this book tells the story of a young girl named Mara who survives an accident that kills her friends, but only leaves her injured, and results in her waking up in a hospital with no memory of what happened. Her family moves to a new state so that she — and they — can get a fresh start, but then she starts to hallucinate (or does she?) and, with the help of her new friend Noah, has to sort out what's really happened — and still happening — what's safe, and what's dangerous.
Tess, a New York City transplant and only 22, is faced with the daunting task of learning the city's best restaurants after landing a front-of-house position at one. She's soon to learn that the restaurant world isn't as glamorous and stylish as it may appear, nor is it all fun and games. Tess has to grow up in a new city and a new industry and is sure to learn some lessons along the way.
16. Seven Days Of Us
All of the member of the Birch family are home, in one house, for Christmas for the first time in a very long time. Because Olivia, a doctor and the eldest Birch daughter, has to be quarantined after being exposed to diseases abroad, so too does her family, meaning all of them are stuck in the house for a week together. If you've ever spent the holidays shut up with your family, this tale will be ever-so-relatable. Will the secrets be able to say secret, however? And who's coming to visit?
17. Wonder Valley
This story, made up of tales of people all representing different facets and corners of contemporary Los Angeles, tells the story of a city that's long-captured the imagination of people around the world. How do their lives go together — and why?
When Rachel is seven months pregnant, she finds out that her husband is in love with another woman. She equal parts tries to win him back and wishes he didn't exist anymore all while writing the cookbooks she pens for work. If you're looking for a story of love, heartbreak, and food as written by romantic comedy queen Nora Ephron, this is the book for you.
19. A Piece Of Cake
Cupcake Brown's memoir about surviving the death of a parent, rape, child abuse, drugs, prostitution, homelessness, miscarriage, and more, all before her 20th birthday, should be required reading. She moves past all of that and completely transforms her life. You won't want to put it down.
20. Pretty Girls
Two decades ago, Julia, a teenager, disappeared. Her two sisters, now grown women, haven't spoken to each other since then. One of the sisters, Claire, then has to face the murder of her husband, and all the unaddressed pain from losing her sister all those years ago. Now the sisters have to team up to make it through the heartache all over again — and discover what really happened.
21. The Six: The Lives Of The Mitford Sisters
This story, about six completely different sisters born into privilege and growing up between the two World Wars in London, will keep you entertained from start to finish. Thompson weaves the stories together and tells all about these six women and their posh — and sometimes scandalous — lives.
22. You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have To Explain
Comedian Phoebe Robinson writes essays about her life as a young black woman in America — the questions she's been asked, the judgments she's faced — and does it all with humor and poise. She's ready to give some advice (to the first female president), destroy your biases, make you think, and, yes, make you laugh. If you love her podcast, 2 Dope Queens (or even if you don't), you'll love this book of essays and wonder when you'll be able to read more from her.
23. Stay With Me
Yejide and Akin fell in love while they were university students and mutually agreed that, though it had previously been assumed that Akin would marry multiple women, polygamy wasn't what they wanted for their family. But then Yejide struggles to conceive and one day family members show up with Akin's second wife. Yejide knows that they only way to keep her family together the way that they originally planned is to somehow get pregnant. How far will she have to go to try to make it happen?
24. American Housewife
These housewives wear lipstick and pearls no matter what, they'll make a dinner party look effortless, and won't tolerate poor manners — or party crashers. Ellis explains what American housewives do all day with humor and 12 stories of women just trying to make it through the day.
25. Goodbye, Vitamin
Thirty-year-old Ruth's life is seemingly falling apart. Her engagement is over, she's quit her job, and she's moving back home to live with her parents. She finds out, upon her arrival, that her father seems to be dealing with dementia and is only sometimes lucid, while her mother, though lucid, is often acting erratically. It's up to Ruth to manage it all, which she does with humor and grace.
26. The Light We Lost
Lucy and Gabe meet when both are students at Columbia University. They meet again the following year and then Gabe, a photojournalist, takes an assignment in the Middle East, while Lucy stays behind in New York to follow her own dreams. Were they destined to be together? And will they ever meet again?
Sunja, a teenager in early 1900s Korea falls in love with a wealthy man who promises her everything. She'll never want for anything. But then, Sunja finds out that she is pregnant and that the father of her baby — the wealthy man — is married already. She decides, instead, to reject him, cut off ties, and marry an old minister from Japan. Each of her decisions will have ramifications for generations.
28. The Mothers
Seventeen-year-old Nadia is grieving for her mother after her mother's recent suicide and begins dating Luke, the pastor's son. When Nadia gets pregnant, she keeps it a secret, even from her best friend Aubrey. As the trio grows up, everyone starts to question what would've happened if they'd done things differently.
29. The Regulars
Three regular twenty-somethings living in New York City are faced with the normal realities of trying to make rent, figure out the dating world, and make it in the corporate world. Then, they find a magic potion called Pretty that makes them look like supermodels. It seems like nothing can go wrong, but Pretty brings complications with it too.
30. The Mountain Story
Four hikers have all set off on their trek up the mountain for different reasons and with different plans. When each of the four gets lost, they realize that their survival is reliant on each other, but how far will they go to ensure that everyone makes it?
When a little girl leaves Iran for the United States, her father stays behind. She grows up, essentially, American, with only four visits over the course of decades allowing her to connect with her father. With the rise of refugee crises, she wants to help, but there's a lot she doesn't remember or understand about her time as an immigrant or her home country. It's a timely read and one that will keep you engaged until the very end.
32. The Nightingale
In this novel, Hannah tells the story of two sisters during the German occupation of France during World War II. Each sister is vastly different from the other, but, at the same time, they're both fighting for the same thing: love — and survival. If you loved All the Light We Cannot See, add this one to your list ASAP.
33. We Shall Not All Sleep
Two families (well, technically one) live on Seven Island in Maine and have shared the island for years. They don't otherwise interact, however. Until now. Mourning the death of her sister, Lila all of a sudden feels compelled to get closer to her brother-in-law, while her husband decides to send their youngest son to spend 24 hours alone on a neighboring island to "make him a man." The kids are running wild, the adults are distracted, and this is one story of three consecutive days that you won't soon forget.
34. The Girls In The Garden
A group of families live around a communal garden in the heart of London, allowing their kids to play together and wander in and out of each other's houses. It seems like a safe, idyllic place to live, but then, in the middle of a neighborhood party, Pip finds her sister Grace unconscious and bloody.
35. The Windfall
This novel, the author's first, is about an Indian family who suddenly comes into a large sum of money. What happens when you're a new-money family and have to adjust? This tale about family and acceptance will keep you laughing to the end.
36. To All The Boys I've Loved Before
This book, by author Jenny Han, is a young adult novel (and the first in a series), but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't read it or that you won't love it. Lara Jean has written a love letter to each of her past crushes, thinking they'd never read them. When her letters get mailed, her life gets really complicated, really fast.
37. My Not So Perfect Life
Katie is jealous of nearly everyone around her, especially her boss, Demeter. When things seem to start to get better for Katie, Demeter fires her and she heads off to her family's farm, where they are launching a "vacation business". Things take a turn when Demeter shows up as a guest and secrets start to come out. In classic Sophie Kinsella fashion, you'll have a hard time putting it down.
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