40 Must Read Books of All Time (2024)
Must-read books: There are so many out there – so don’t waste your time on average books!
Still, it can take time to find books worth reading. That’s why we’ve compiled this epic must-read book list to make your life easier . It features 39 top books to read in popular categories, such as fiction, business, personal development, travel, and more.
So, if you’re wondering, “what book should I read next?” we’ve got you covered. This list is jam-packed with great books to read!
Now, let’s get into it. Just use the contents to jump to the section you’re most interested in, or start scrolling.
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Classic Novels to Read
1. 1984 by george orwell.
1984 tells the futuristic story of a dystopian, totalitarian world where free will and love are forbidden. Although the year 1984 has long since passed, the prophecy of a society controlled by fear and lies is arguably more relevant now than ever.
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2. the lord of the rings by j.r.r. tolkien.
Tolkien’s fantasy epic is one of the top must-read books out there. Set in Middle Earth – a world full of hobbits, elves, orcs, goblins, and wizards – The Lord of the Rings will take you on an unbelievable adventure.
3. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Kite Runner is a moving story of an unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant. Set in Afghanistan during a time of tragedy and destruction, this unforgettable novel will have you hooked from start to finish.
4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
This global bestseller took the world by storm. So, if you haven’t read J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, now may be the time. Join Harry Potter and his schoolmates as this must-read book transports you deep into a world of magic and monsters.
5. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Slaughterhouse-Five is arguably one of the greatest anti-war books ever written. This rich and amusing tale follows the life of Billy Pilgrim as he experiences World War II from a peculiar perspective.
6. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe is undoubtedly one of the great books of all time. This renowned fantasy novel is set in Narnia, home to mythical beasts, talking animals, and warring kingdoms. The story follows a group of school children as they become entangled in this incredible world’s fate.
7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the top must-read books of all time. Published in 1960, the story explores life in the Deep South during the early 20th century through the story of a man accused of a terrible crime. It’s poignant, humorous, and gripping.
8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Book Thief is a story of bravery, hope, and friendship in a time of Nazi tyranny. Narrated by Death itself, this novel will have you holding your breath for chapters at a time.
9. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Wuthering Heights is a classic novel published way back in 1847. This harrowing story, set on a lonely English moorland, follows Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff’s struggle with love, betrayal, and revenge. If you love dramatic novels, add this to your must-read book list.
10. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye is the classic coming-of-age story. It follows sixteen-year-old Holden Caulfield’s adolescent journey of angst and alienation as he leaves his prep school and moves to New York City.
11. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre is often considered one of the must-read books of all time. It follows the emotions and experiences of a strong, unbroken woman who continued to grow morally and spiritually despite a troubled childhood and a sexist, repressed Victorian society.
12. Animal Farm by George Orwell
Orwell tells a fairy tale of a revolution against tyranny that ends in even more unjust totalitarianism. The animals on the farm are rife with idealism and desire to create a world of justice, equality, and progress. However, the new regimen attempts to control every aspect of the animals’ lives.
13. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury’s dystopian world shines a light on Western societies’ dependence on the media. The main character’s job is to find and burn any books he can find – until he begins to question everything. Considering the state of current politics and world affairs, this is one of the absolute must-read books in life.
14. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
This is a tale of four sisters with their own very different and very prominent personalities. The novel draws the reader deep into their lives as we get to know each of their flaws, joys, struggles, and fears.
15. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Charlotte’s Web is a great reminder to be kind to all living creatures. This magical story takes place on a farm where a little girl tries to save her piglet from slaughter. Fern, the little girl, enlists the help of her farm friends to execute her clever plan.
16. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
English author Mary Shelley tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a monster and brings it to life. This gripping novel evokes questions about what makes us human and what love and kindness truly mean.
17. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Of Mice and Men should be on every must-read book list. Set in the Great Depression, this is a controversial tale of friendship between two migrant workers in California. Filled with hope and tragedy, the two work towards the dream of owning land and pets.
18. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
In Guardians of the Galaxy, Arthur Dent sets off on a hilarious and fantastic adventure across the stars. He learns not to take the universe seriously as he meets all kinds of interesting characters.
19. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is said to be the quintessential novel of the Jazz Age. Set in 1922 amongst unfathomable indulgence and decadence, the novel highlights a man’s struggle to earn the love of the woman he’s obsessed with.
Business and Money Must-Read Books
20. think and grow rich by napoleon hill.
Think and Grow Rich is a classic bestseller that has sold millions of copies worldwide. It’s packed full of money-making tips, techniques, and strategies. If you want to improve your mindset around money, this book can potentially change your life completely.
21. Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert T. Kiyosaki
Rich Dad Poor Dad explains how wealthy people and poorer people think differently. It challenges commonly held beliefs about money and explains how you don’t need to have a high income to become rich.
22. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
If you want to learn how to invest, add this to your list of must-read books. Author Benjamin Graham is considered one of the greatest investment advisors of the twentieth century. In The Intelligent Investor , you’ll learn about Graham’s philosophy of ‘value investing’ and how to develop long-term strategies that are used by the most successful investors in the world.
23. Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio
Ray Dalio’s investment firm, Bridgewater Associates, has made more money for its clients than any other hedge fund in history. In Principles , Dalio shares everything he’s learned about investing, business, and life over the years.
24. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
In this New York Times bestseller, DR. Robert B. Cialdini reveals the psychology behind influence – and how to apply the principles of persuasion in business and everyday life.
Personal Development Books Everyone Should Read
25. how to win friends and influence people by dale carnegie.
First published in 1936, Dale Carnegie’s classic self-help book has stood the test of time. How to Win Friends and Influence People will teach you straightforward methods to improve your relationships – and as a result, your business and personal lives.
26. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
If you’ve ever tried to change a habit unsuccessfully, this should be one of your must-read books. In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg reveals the empowering nature of how habits are formed and – crucially – how you can change them.
27. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle
The Power of Now has sold more than two million copies and has been translated into over 30 languages. This groundbreaking book has the potential to completely revolutionize how you experience life – making life far more joyous and prosperous in the process.
28. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk M.D.
Dr. Bessel van der Kolk is one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma – something that virtually everyone experiences to some degree. The Body Keeps the Score unravels the science behind emotional and psychological trauma and offers new paths to recovery.
Science and Technology Books You Must-Read
29. a brief history of time by stephen hawking.
Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time is one of the most famous books in science. It discusses the history of cosmology and its development from Ancient Greece through to the 1980s.
30. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt
If you’re interested in the truth behind controversial social issues, this book should be on your must-read book list. The authors reveal the facts behind issues, such as crime, shopping, and drugs.
31. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff
The Age of Surveillance Capitalism is one of the top must-read books on technology. The author gives us a look at how personal data has become a new form of capital.
32. Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener
Anna Wiener writes about the frantic, self-important, and often delusional work culture in Silicon Valley, and how millennials in tech are consumed by living a productive life. The Uncanny Valley is one of those books everyone should read.
Travel and Adventure Books You Must-Read Before You Die
33. on the road by jack kerouac.
Inspired by Kerouac’s real-life adventures, On the Road tells the tale of two friends searching for meaning and rich experiences on a cross-country road trip.
34. Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
In Notes From a Small Island, Bill Bryson shares a hilarious commentary of his jaunt through the United Kingdom – from the center of government at Downing Street, London, to the Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands.
35. Vagabonding by Rolf Potts
Vagabonding is perhaps the only travel guide you’ll ever need. This must-read book provides practical tips on how to travel safely and spontaneously – and the philosophies you’ll need to enjoy the trip of a lifetime.
36. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Cheryl Strayed thought she’d lost everything at 22. Then, her mother’s passing, family trouble, and divorce drove her to an impulsive decision – to walk more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. Wild will inspire you to see your true self-worth and capabilities.
History and Biography Books Worth Reading
37. sapiens: a brief history of humankind by yuval noah harari.
If you’re looking for interesting books to read, Sapiens should be on your list. It details the development of human beings from the earliest stages until now. The author also shows how our current world systems will banish natural selection and adaptation.
38. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
Lists of must-read biographies almost always include this wonderful book. Mandela started writing this autobiography in prison and finished it right before becoming the president of South Africa. This inspiring story provides a glimpse into the end of apartheid and the blatant inequality in the country.
39. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of Their Lost World by Steve Brusatte
Do you find dinosaurs fascinating? If so, this is one of the must-read books on the subject. Steve Brusatte reveals the different dinosaurs that roamed the planet – and the different worlds in which they lived.
40. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
In A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bryson attempts to summarize the history of the Earth. He talks about nearly every aspect of the planet – how it formed, how much it weighs, it’s size, the stages it went through, the dangers inherent to it, and how humans have evolved. If you love science and history, this is a must-read book for you.
What Should I Read Next?
If you’re wondering “what book should I read next,” look no further. In summary, here are 40 must-read books of all time:
- 1984 by George Orwell
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
- Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
- The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- Animal Farm by George Orwell
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
- Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert T. Kiyosaki
- The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
- Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
- The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle
- The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk M.D.
- A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
- Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt
- The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff
- Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener
- On the Road by Jack Kerouac
- Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
- Vagabonding by Rolf Potts
- Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Must-Read Biographies and History Books
- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
- Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
- The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of Their Lost World by Steve Brusatte
- A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
Have we missed any must-read books? If so, leave a comment below to recommend some top books to read!
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Editors at The Times Book Review choose the best fiction and nonfiction titles this year.
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How Beautiful We Were
By imbolo mbue.
Following her 2016 debut, “ Behold the Dreamers ,” Mbue’s sweeping and quietly devastating second novel begins in 1980 in the fictional African village of Kosawa, where representatives from an American oil company have come to meet with the locals, whose children are dying because of the environmental havoc (fallow fields, poisoned water) wreaked by its drilling and pipelines. This decades-spanning fable of power and corruption turns out to be something much less clear-cut than the familiar David-and-Goliath tale of a sociopathic corporation and the lives it steamrolls. Through the eyes of Kosawa’s citizens young and old, Mbue constructs a nuanced exploration of self-interest, of what it means to want in the age of capitalism and colonialism — these machines of malicious, insatiable wanting.
Random House. $28. | Read our review | Read our profile of Mbue | Listen to Mbue on the podcast
By Katie Kitamura
In Kitamura’s fourth novel, an unnamed court translator in The Hague is tasked with intimately vanishing into the voices and stories of war criminals whom she alone can communicate with; falling meanwhile into a tumultuous entanglement with a man whose marriage may or may not be over for good. Kitamura’s sleek and spare prose elegantly breaks grammatical convention, mirroring the book’s concern with the bleeding lines between intimacies — especially between the sincere and the coercive. Like her previous novel, “A Separation,” “Intimacies” scrutinizes the knowability of those around us, not as an end in itself but as a lens on grand social issues from gentrification to colonialism to feminism. The path a life cuts through the world, this book seems to say, has its greatest significance in the effect it has on others.
Riverhead Books. $26. | Read our review | Read our profile of Kitamura
The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois
By honorée fanonne jeffers.
“The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois,” the first novel by Jeffers, a celebrated poet, is many things at once: a moving coming-of-age saga, an examination of race and an excavation of American history. It cuts back and forth between the tale of Ailey Pearl Garfield, a Black girl growing up at the end of the 20th century, and the “songs” of her ancestors, Native Americans and enslaved African Americans who lived through the formation of the United States. As their stories converge, “Love Songs” creates an unforgettable portrait of Black life that reveals how the past still reverberates today.
Harper/HarperCollins. $28.99. | Read our review | Listen to Jeffers on the podcast
No One Is Talking About This
By patricia lockwood.
Lockwood first found acclaim as a poet on the internet, with gloriously inventive and ribald verse — sexts elevated to virtuosity. In “ Priestdaddy ,” her indelible 2017 memoir about growing up in rectories across the Midwest presided over by her gun-loving, guitar-playing father, a Catholic priest, she called tweeting “an art form, like sculpture, or honking the national anthem under your armpit.” Here, in her first novel, she distills the pleasures and deprivations of life split between online and flesh-and-blood interactions, transfiguring the dissonance into art. The result is a book that reads like a prose poem, at once sublime, profane, intimate, philosophical, hilarious and, eventually, deeply moving.
Riverhead Books. $25. | Read our review | Read our profile of Lockwood
When We Cease to Understand the World
By benjamín labatut. translated by adrian nathan west..
Labatut expertly stitches together the stories of the 20th century’s greatest thinkers to explore both the ecstasy and agony of scientific breakthroughs: their immense gains for society as well as their steep human costs. His journey to the outermost edges of knowledge — guided by the mathematician Alexander Grothendieck , the physicist Werner Heisenberg and the chemist Fritz Haber , among others — offers glimpses of a universe with limitless potential underlying the observable world, a “dark nucleus at the heart of things” that some of its witnesses decide is better left alone. This extraordinary hybrid of fiction and nonfiction also provokes the frisson of an extended true-or-false test: The further we read, the blurrier the line gets between fact and fabulism.
New York Review Books. Paper, $17.95. | Read our review
The Copenhagen Trilogy: Childhood; Youth; Dependency
By tove ditlevsen. translated by tiina nunnally and michael favala goldman..
Ditlevsen’s gorgeous memoirs, first published in Denmark in the 1960s and ’70s and collected here in a single volume, detail her hardscrabble upbringing, career path and merciless addictions: a powerful account of the struggle to reconcile art and life. She joined the working ranks at 14, became a renowned poet by her early 20s, and found herself, after two failed marriages, wedded to a psychopathic doctor and hopelessly dependent on opioids by her 30s. Yet for all the dramatic twists of her life, these books together project a stunning clarity, humor and candidness, casting light not just on the world’s harsh realities but on the inexplicable impulses of our secret selves.
Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $30. | Read our review
How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America
By clint smith.
For this timely and thought-provoking book, Smith, a poet and journalist, toured sites key to the history of slavery and its present-day legacy, including Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello; Angola, the Louisiana State Penitentiary; and a Confederate cemetery. Interspersing interviews with the tourists, guides, activists and local historians he meets along the way with close readings of scholarship and poignant personal reflection, Smith holds up a mirror to America’s fraught relationship with its past, capturing a potent mixture of good intentions, earnest corrective, willful ignorance and blatant distortion.
Little, Brown & Company. $29. | Read our review | Listen to Smith on the podcast
Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival and Hope in an American City
By andrea elliott.
To expand on her acclaimed 2013 series for The Times about Dasani Coates, a homeless New York schoolgirl, and her family, Elliott spent years following her subjects in their daily lives, through shelters, schools, courtrooms and welfare offices. The book she has produced — intimately reported, elegantly written and suffused with the fierce love and savvy observations of Dasani and her mother — is a searing account of one family’s struggle with poverty, homelessness and addiction in a city and country that have failed to address these issues with efficacy or compassion.
Random House. $30. | Read our review | Listen to Elliott on the podcast
By annette gordon-reed.
This book weaves together history and memoir into a short volume that is insightful, touching and courageous. Exploring the racial and social complexities of Texas, her home state, Gordon-Reed asks readers to step back from the current heated debates and take a more nuanced look at history and the surprises it can offer. Such a perspective comes easy to her because she was a part of history — the first Black child to integrate her East Texas school. On several occasions, she found herself shunned by whites and Blacks alike, learning at an early age that breaking the color line can be threatening to both races.
Liveright Publishing. $15.95. | Read our review | Listen to Gordon-Reed on the podcast
Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath
By heather clark.
It’s daring to undertake a new biography of Plath, whose life, and death by suicide at 30 in 1963, have been thoroughly picked over by scholars. Yet this meticulously researched and, at more than 1,000 pages, unexpectedly riveting portrait is a monumental achievement. Determined to rescue the poet from posthumous caricature as a doomed madwoman and “reposition her as one of the most important American writers of the 20th century,” Clark, a professor of poetry in England, delivers a transporting account of a rare literary talent and the familial and intellectual milieu that both thwarted and encouraged her, enlivened throughout by quotations from Plath’s letters, diaries, poetry and prose.
Alfred A. Knopf. $40. | Read our review
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Here Are the 9 New Books You Should Read in November
These are independent reviews of the products mentioned, but TIME receives a commission when purchases are made through affiliate links at no additional cost to the purchaser.
If you're in need of some Thanksgiving reading or looking to pick up an early holiday gift for the lit lovers in your life, this month’s slate of new books offers everything from a dystopian thriller to two standout works of COVID-19 fiction to a memoir from the best-selling female recording artist in history. In investigative deep-dive Endgame , journalist Omid Scobie delves into the British royal family’s fight for survival in the wake of Queen Elizabeth II's death . In essay anthology Critical Hits , an array of writer-gamers explore the cultural significance of the past 50 years of video games. Here are the best new books to read in November.
The Future , Naomi Alderman (Nov. 7)
After a trio of tech billionaires are forewarned of an apocalyptic superbug and flee to a secret doomsday bunker to save only themselves, an unlikely group of friends embark on an intrepid mission to take down the wealthiest and most powerful people in the world. Beginning with the end of civilization and jumping back and forth through time, Naomi Alderman, the award-winning author of 2016's The Power , weaves a cautionary tale of what society stands to lose in a near-future where AI has transformed all walks of life.
Buy Now : The Future on Bookshop | Amazon
The Vulnerables , Sigrid Nunez (Nov. 7)
Set against the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City, National Book Award winner Sigrid Nunez's tender and humorous new novel explores the abiding power of connection during an era of unprecedented isolation. The Vulnerables centers on an aging, solitary female writer (the story's narrator) who moves into a friend of a friend's Manhattan apartment. There, she cares for a pet macaw named Eureka while its owner is stuck in California. When the bird's previous sitter, a collegiate Gen Z-er, unexpectedly shows up at the apartment after getting kicked out of his parents' house, the trio form an unexpected bond that carries them through a time of widespread fear and uncertainty.
Buy Now : The Vulnerables on Bookshop | Amazon
Same Bed Different Dreams , Ed Park (Nov. 7)
From the acclaimed author of the 2008 novel Personal Days comes a sprawling work of meta speculative fiction. In Same Bed Different Dreams , Ed Park imagines an alternate history in which the Korean Provisional Government established during Japanese occupation secretly persisted beyond the end of Japanese rule in 1945 and into today. Through riveting prose, Park describes how its members work behind the scenes to unite a fractured Korea. In doing so, the author weaves together three intersecting narratives to create a poignant, postmodern epic that turns 20th century history on its head.
Buy Now : Same Bed Different Dreams on Bookshop | Amazon
To Free the Captives : A Plea for the American Soul , Tracy K. Smith (Nov. 7)
Former U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith delivers a searing manifesto on the power of collective ritual in confronting the persistence of violence and racism against Black people in America. A Pulitzer Prize winner, Smith combines lyrical reflections on her personal experiences as a Black woman, mother, and educator with a historical examination of how her ancestors endured in the face of overwhelming oppression and subjugation. In writing a book about "Black strength, Black continuance, and the powerful forms of belief and community that have long bolstered the soul of my people," Smith says she came to believe that "all of us, in the here and now, can choose to work alongside the generations that precede us in tending to America’s oldest wounds and meeting the urgencies of our present.”
Buy Now : To Free the Captives on Bookshop | Amazon
My Name is Barbra , Barbra Streisand (Nov. 7)
Over the course of nearly 1,000 pages, living legend Barbra Streisand tells the story of her life and decades-spanning career as one of the most iconic figures of the stage and screen. Titled after her Emmy Award-winning first TV special, Streisand's much-anticipated memoir offers what is being touted as a “frank, funny, opinionated and charming" account of her unparalleled showbiz success. From breaking into superstardom as Fanny Brice in the 1964 original Broadway production of Funny Girl to earning the most coveted honor in all of Hollywood, an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony), Streisand candidly reflects on her storied past.
Buy Now : My Name is Barbra on Bookshop | Amazon
The New Naturals , Gabriel Bump (Nov. 14)
Following the death of their infant daughter, grieving parents and Black academics Rio and Gibraltar decide they need to make a change. Weary of campus racism at the Boston liberal arts college where they both teach, the duo leaves the city in pursuit of a new dream. With the help of a wealthy benefactor, the couple begin constructing an underground world with the aim of creating a utopia where people can feel accepted and protected. Dubbed the New Naturals, the sanctuary is located under an abandoned restaurant on a hill off a highway in Western Massachusetts. But as their subterranean haven grows—and begins to attract a motley crew of guests, from a dejected former college soccer star to two unhoused men who travel from Chicago by bus to reach the facility—questions of what really makes for a true safe space for all threaten to derail the burgeoning experiment.
Buy Now : The New Naturals on Bookshop | Amazon
Day , Michael Cunningham (Nov. 14)
Michael Cunningham, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hours , delivers a quietly profound portrait of a Brooklyn family navigating love and loss before, during, and after COVID-19 upends their existence. Day , Cunningham's first book in nearly a decade, is divided into three sections, each set during a snapshot of time on a single day over three successive years—“April 5, 2019: Morning,” “April 5, 2020: Afternoon,” and “April 5, 2021: Evening”—and handles recent history with care and nuance. Although the words COVID and pandemic never appear in the novel, Cunningham told the New York Times that he felt compelled to center the story around the outbreak of the virus. “How does anybody,” he said, “write a contemporary novel that’s about human beings that’s not about the pandemic?”
Buy Now : Day on Bookshop | Amazon
Critical Hits: Writers Playing Video Games , edited by J. Robert Lennon and Carmen Maria Machado (Nov. 21)
In this incisive anthology, short story masters J. Robert Lennon ( Pieces for the Left Hand ) and Carmen Maria Machado ( Her Body and Other Parties ) compile a collection of essays that reflect on the pivotal role video games play in our culture and celebrate the medium as an art form. Entries include musings from a diverse lineup of writer-gamers, from a piece by memoirist Elissa Washuta on how the central plot of 2013's The Last of Us mirrors her early COVID-19 pandemic search for a medical diagnosis to a story from novelist Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah on how playing 2019's Disco Elysium helped him come to terms with his father's passing.
Buy Now : Critical Hits on Bookshop | Amazon
Endgame: Inside the Royal Family and the Monarchy's Fight for Survival , Omid Scobie (Nov. 28)
After being delayed three months so it could include details on the coronation of King Charles III , journalist Omid Scobie's investigative look into the inner turmoil and global reputation of the British royal family in the aftermath of Queen Elizabeth II's death will be released later this month. Endgame arrives on the heels of Scobie's best-selling 2020 blockbuster Finding Freedom : Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family , a highly positive accounting of the relationship between the Duke and Duchess of Sussex . The new book is expected to delve into the early days of King Charles' reign, feud between Prince William and Harry , and allegations of sexual abuse against Prince Andrew , among other topics.
Buy Now : Endgame on Bookshop | Amazon
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10 books for your November reading list
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Critic Bethanne Patrick recommends 10 promising titles, fiction and nonfiction, to consider for your November reading list.
Booklover’s Thanksgiving arrives early this year, with most of November’s notable releases out Nov. 7 (and one pushed forward to Halloween). That should make it easier to stock up on titles to hide behind after (or even during) long hours with friends and family. At least two novels bring perspective to the COVID pandemic, while another involves a surprising view of the Vietnam War. Nonfiction ranges even more broadly, from artificial intelligence to the war in Afghanistan and the pleasures of a quiet garden. Happy — and grateful — reading!
Absolution By Alice McDermott FSG: 336 pages, $28 (Oct. 31)
Set during the earliest days of American involvement in Vietnam , McDermott’s ninth novel focuses on narrator Tricia, a Navy spouse, and her friendship with Charlene, an American businessman’s wife. After Charlene’s daughter Rainey gets a miniature ao dai for her Barbie doll from the family seamstress, Charlene cooks up a scheme that will ultimately push Tricia to her limit. A firmly feminist accounting of the era’s sins against women from both West and East, this could be McDermott’s best novel yet.
Again and Again By Jonathan Evison Dutton: 336 pages, $28 (Nov. 7)
Eugene Miles, who’s 106, lives in an eldercare facility and spends a great deal of his time telling housekeeper Angel the stories of his past lives. Since Angel has romantic troubles of his own, Eugene’s long and complicated stories make him an unlikely male Scheherazade , trying to distract someone he cares about from his distress. Does it matter if he really lived as a thief named Euric in Moorish Spain, or as Oscar Wilde’s cat?
Personal Days A Novel Ed Park Random House: 246 pp., $13 paper
May 25, 2008
Same Bed Different Dreams By Ed Park Random House: 544 pages, $30 (Nov. 7)
Alt-history novels abound; it’s high time Korea got its own. Park (“ Personal Days ”) posits that the real-life Korean Provisional Government (KPG), founded in exile in China, became a powerful underground group working toward a unified nation during and after the Korean War. When a technical writer finds an unpublished novel that might be a KPG document, the book breaks into three sections: the discovery of the manuscript, the novel itself and then the speculative ramblings of a Black Korean War veteran. The result is twisty and high-concept and impossible to put down.
The Vulnerables By Sigrid Nunez Riverhead: 256 pages, $28 (Nov. 7)
In her last novel, “ The Friend ,” Sigrid Nunez included a dog as an important character. “The Vulnerables” stars a macaw named Eureka. When a grown son of her friends abandons his birdsitting gig, the narrator, a writer who shares the author’s name, age and profession, takes over. And when the young man returns and the pandemic shuts things down, the trio must negotiate their new proximity.
Famous at last for her previous novel, “The Friend,” Sigrid Nunez strikes again
“What Are You Going Through” feels like a spiritual and in some ways literal sequel to Nunez’s National Book Award-winning novel, “The Friend”
Sept. 8, 2020
Day By Michael Cunningham Random House: 288 pages, $28 (Nov. 14)
On April 5 in the years 2019, 2020 and 2021, we visit two siblings inhabiting a Brooklyn brownstone. Robbie lives in the attic of the building Isabel owns with her husband, Dan, and their two children. The members of the family age, relationships change and COVID looms over everything. But Cunningham , a wondrous novelist concerned as always with human connection, keeps the pandemic on a short leash in a book that has less to do with isolation than how life changes us all, whether we want it to or not.
To Free the Captives: A Plea for the American Soul By Tracy K. Smith Knopf: 288 pages, $27 (Nov. 7)
The Pulitzer Prize-winning former U.S. Poet Laureate (“Life on Mars”) wrote her first memoir, “Ordinary Light,” about her mother’s cancer diagnosis, in 2015. This second nonfiction work focuses on her father’s side of the family as a means of exploring Black strength and history, constructing a new way of tracing and talking about race in our country. Whether she’s in her father’s home of Sunflower, Ala., or teaching at Harvard, Smith reminds all Americans that without Black history, none of us have any history at all.
The Night Parade: A Speculative Memoir By Jami Nakamura Lin Mariner: 352 pages, $30 (Nov. 7)
Hyakki Yagyo, or the Night Parade of 1,000 Demons, is a Japanese myth that once helped people account for the various states we now understand as mental illness. Lin lived for many years with undiagnosed bipolar syndrome, and often felt as if she existed in places where no one else did. The stories from her childhood about ghosts and demons comforted her, as those figures also seemed to live between worlds. Lin’s braiding of personal experience and cultural touchstones make this memoir very special.
Review: What a 1980 Japanese novel about a single mom foresaw about pandemic loneliness
Yuko Tsushima’s 1980 novel, ‘Woman Running in the Mountains,’ about a single mother’s struggles, gets a reprint just in time for a child care crisis.
Feb. 23, 2022
Cacophony of Bone: The Circle of a Year By Kerri ní Dochartaigh Milkweed: 312 pages, $26 (Nov. 14)
The Irish writer (“Thin Places”) and her partner moved to a landlocked railway cottage a year before the pandemic; within that year, she became pregnant after many years of trying, started a garden after years of never bothering and found a home after moving in each of her previous 35 years. Her chapters are lyrical and deliberately slow, the time allowed its dignified procession without literary tricks. “I can’t go back to who I was before that year,” the author writes, and readers who follow her also will be changed.
Whistles From the Graveyard: My Time Behind the Camera on War, Rage, and Restless Youth in Afghanistan By Miles Lagoze Atria/One Signal: 272 pages, $30 (Nov. 7)
When Lagoze joined the Marines, he signed on for the military occupational specialty of combat cameraman. Deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 at 18, he was meant to capture images the U.S. government could use, but he soon realized his photos were revealing the truth of war. Whether seeing the fear in combatants and civilians alike or observing how societal ills followed young servicemembers to the front, Lagoze startles in his prose just as he did in his 2019 documentary, “ Combat Obscura .”
Why this AI pioneer is calling for ‘human centered’ computing
Fei-Fei Li, author of ‘The Worlds I See’ and co-director of Stanford’s Human-Centered AI Institute, joins the L.A. Times Book Club Nov. 14.
Oct. 20, 2023
The Worlds I See: Curiosity, Exploration, and Discovery at the Dawn of AI By Fei-Fei Li Flatiron Books: 336 pages, $30 (Nov. 7)
Li, a computer science professor at Stanford, is the founding director of that university’s Institute for Human-Centered AI and the creator of ImageNet, an innovation that paved the way for some forms of artificial intelligence. She and her family immigrated from China to face poverty and illness in the United States, but Li prevailed over hardships to triumph in her field. Now she wants to be sure that the rest of us understand both the challenges and the incredible possibilities of the technology she helped pioneer.
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The Student Newspaper of Washington College since 1930
The must-read list of where to find the best book recommendations
By Lucy Verlaque
Elm Staff Writer
There is no better feeling than finding a book that you never want to put down. With so many options out there, however, it can be difficult to narrow down that search, or even know where to begin. Here are some of the best ways to find new book recommendations.
Thanks to the internet, there are plenty of online resources to quickly help you find your next read.
Going to the websites of different publishing houses can be a good start to this search. For example, the Penguin Random House website has a Recommendations section broken up into categorized lists, including “The Must-Read Books of 2023 (So Far),” “Must-Read Horror Books,” and “Staff Picks: Our Favorite Banned Books.”
Other websites, such as Goodreads , allow users to enter the titles or genres of books they enjoy to search for recommendations based on that information. Goodreads users can also connect with their friends to share their own reviews of books they have read, which can be useful for people who know they have similar interests.
Social media has also become a worthwhile book source. TikTok or Youtube users might find themselves in the niche spaces of these platforms dedicated to book reviews and recommendations, commonly referred to as “BookTok” and “BookTube.”
For example, Youtube users Jack Edwards and The Book Leo offer a plethora of book recommendations and fun videos. The former reads and discusses celebrity’s favorite books, while the latter chats about book trends like romance fantasy.
With endless rows of packed bookshelves, going straight to a bookstore might seem like an overwhelming way to start looking for new books. However, there are a few ways to easily navigate this area.
Bookstores like Barnes & Noble offer a “blind date with a book,” in which books are giftwrapped to hide their title, author, and cover. Shoppers decide if a book interests them based on the summary alone rather than judging by its cover, allowing them to find books they might not have picked up otherwise.
For those looking to support their local bookstore, The Bookplate, located in downtown Chestertown, has a wall display dedicated to staff picks, allowing shoppers to narrow down their search. The Bookplate also offers a variety of used books, so you are sure to find a hidden gem just roaming the shelves.
If you find yourself at a bookstore that does not have an option like this, talking to employees directly might be useful, as they can help you around the store and offer recommendations face-to-face.
Clifton M. Miller Memorial Library is a familiar campus location for Washington College students. While students primarily use Miller Library’s resources for academic research purposes, it can also be a great place to search for leisurely reading recommendations.
According to Director of Public Services and Faculty Librarian in STEM Alex Baker, librarians at Miller Library can help students navigate the library’s collection to find books that might interest them.
“If [students] have a particular topic they’re really excited about, they can speak with a member of our team to figure out where those books are grouped and where they’re found within our collection,” Baker said.
Looking for book recommendations in Miller Library not only benefits the students seeking new books, but can also benefit the library itself. According to Baker, hearing from students about what topics they are interested in allows the library to assess what materials are available in their inventory.
“In some cases, it might shed light on the fact that we need to acquire things if there are gaping holes in our collection, which is actually a really great process for all parties involved,” Baker said. “I want people to feel like they belong here, and part of that is making sure that the things that they’re in need of can be found here.”
Students can also travel downtown to the Kent County Public Library in downtown Chestertown to support the community.
No matter what your process for finding new books looks like, it is hard to go wrong as long as you are reading something you enjoy.
Photo by Riley Dauber.
Photo Caption: The Clifton M. Miller Memorial Library currently has a display highlighting popular banned books.
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The 100 best books of the 21st century
Dazzling debut novels, searing polemics, the history of humanity and trailblazing memoirs ... Read our pick of the best books since 2000
- Read an interview with the author of our No 1 book
- Read Ali Smith on Autumn
- Read David Mitchell on Cloud Atlas
I Feel Bad About My Neck
By nora ephron (2006).
Perhaps better known for her screenwriting ( Silkwood , When Harry Met Sally , Heartburn ), Ephron’s brand of smart theatrical humour is on best display in her essays. Confiding and self-deprecating, she has a way of always managing to sound like your best friend – even when writing about her apartment on New York’s Upper West Side. This wildly enjoyable collection includes her droll observations about ageing, vanity – and a scorching appraisal of Bill Clinton. Read the review
By alain mabanckou (2005), translated by helen stevenson (2009).
The Congolese writer says he was “trying to break the French language” with Broken Glass – a black comedy told by a disgraced teacher without much in the way of full stops or paragraph breaks. As Mabanckou’s unreliable narrator munches his “bicycle chicken” and drinks his red wine, it becomes clear he has the history of Congo-Brazzaville and the whole of French literature in his sights. Read the review
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
By stieg larsson (2005), translated by steven t murray (2008).
Radical journalist Mikael Blomkvist forms an unlikely alliance with troubled young hacker Lisbeth Salander as they follow a trail of murder and malfeasance connected with one of Sweden’s most powerful families in the first novel of the bestselling Millennium trilogy. The high-level intrigue beguiled millions of readers, brought “Scandi noir” to prominence and inspired innumerable copycats. Read the review
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
By jk rowling (2000).
A generation grew up on Rowling’s all-conquering magical fantasies, but countless adults have also been enthralled by her immersive world. Book four, the first of the doorstoppers, marks the point where the series really takes off. The Triwizard Tournament provides pace and tension, and Rowling makes her boy wizard look death in the eye for the first time. Read the review
A Little Life
By hanya yanagihara (2015).
This operatically harrowing American gay melodrama became an unlikely bestseller, and one of the most divisive novels of the century so far. One man’s life is blighted by abuse and its aftermath, but also illuminated by love and friendship. Some readers wept all night, some condemned it as titillating and exploitative, but no one could deny its power. Read the review
Chronicles: Volume One
By bob dylan (2004).
Dylan’s reticence about his personal life is a central part of the singer-songwriter’s brand, so the gaps and omissions in this memoir come as no surprise. The result is both sharp and dreamy, sliding in and out of different phases of Dylan’s career but rooted in his earliest days as a Woody Guthrie wannabe in New York City. Fans are still waiting for volume two. Read the review
The Tipping Point
By malcolm gladwell (2000).
The New Yorker staff writer examines phenomena from shoe sales to crime rates through the lens of epidemiology, reaching his own tipping point, when he became a rock-star intellectual and unleashed a wave of quirky studies of contemporary society. Two decades on, Gladwell is often accused of oversimplification and cherry picking, but his idiosyncratic bestsellers have helped shape 21st-century culture. Read the review
by Nicola Barker (2007)
British fiction’s most anarchic author is as prolific as she is playful, but this freewheeling, visionary epic set around the Thames Gateway is her magnum opus. Barker brings her customary linguistic invention and wild humour to a tale about history’s hold on the present, as contemporary Ashford is haunted by the spirit of a medieval jester. Read the review
by Helen Dunmore (2001)
The Levin family battle against starvation in this novel set during the German siege of Leningrad. Anna digs tank traps and dodges patrols as she scavenges for wood, but the hand of history is hard to escape. Read the review
by M John Harrison (2002)
One of the most underrated prose writers demonstrates the literary firepower of science fiction at its best. Three narrative strands – spanning far-future space opera, contemporary unease and virtual-reality pastiche – are braided together for a breathtaking metaphysical voyage in pursuit of the mystery at the heart of reality. Read the review
by Jenny Erpenbeck (2008), translated by Susan Bernofsky (2010)
A grand house by a lake in the east of Germany is both the setting and main character of Erpenbeck’s third novel. The turbulent waves of 20th-century history crash over it as the house is sold by a Jewish family fleeing the Third Reich, requisitioned by the Russian army, reclaimed by exiles returning from Siberia, and sold again. Read the review
by Lorna Sage (2000)
A Whitbread prizewinning memoir, full of perfectly chosen phrases, that is one of the best accounts of family dysfunction ever written. Sage grew up with her grandparents, who hated each other: he was a drunken philandering vicar; his wife, having found his diaries, blackmailed him and lived in another part of the house. The author gets unwittingly pregnant at 16, yet the story has a happy ending. Read the review
Noughts & Crosses
By malorie blackman (2001).
Set in an alternative Britain, this groundbreaking piece of young adult fiction sees black people, called the Crosses, hold all the power and influence, while the noughts – white people – are marginalised and segregated. The former children’s laureate’s series is a crucial work for explaining racism to young readers.
By patricia lockwood (2017).
This may not be the only account of living in a religious household in the American midwest (in her youth, the author joined a group called God’s Gang, where they spoke in tongues), but it is surely the funniest. The author started out as the “poet laureate of Twitter”; her language is brilliant, and she has a completely original mind. Read the review
Adults in the Room
By yanis varoufakis (2017).
This memoir by the leather-jacketed economist of the six months he spent as Greece’s finance minister in 2015 at a time of economic and political crisis has been described as “one of the best political memoirs ever written”. He comes up against the IMF, the European institutions, Wall Street, billionaires and media owners and is told how the system works – as a result, his book is a telling description of modern power. Read the review
The God Delusion
By richard dawkins (2006).
A key text in the days when the “New Atheism” was much talked about, The God Delusion is a hard-hitting attack on religion, full of Dawkins’s confidence that faith produces fanatics and all arguments for God are ridiculous. What the evolutionary biologist lacks in philosophical sophistication, he makes up for in passion, and the book sold in huge numbers. Read the review
The Cost of Living
By deborah levy (2018).
“Chaos is supposed to be what we most fear but I have come to believe it might be what we most want ... ” The second part of Levy’s “living memoir”, in which she leaves her marriage, is a fascinating companion piece to her deep yet playful novels. Feminism, mythology and the daily grind come together for a book that combines emotion and intellect to dazzling effect. Read the review
Tell Me How It Ends
By valeria luiselli (2016), translated by luiselli with lizzie davis (2017).
As the hysteria over immigration to the US began to build in 2015, the Mexican novelist volunteered to work as an interpreter in New York’s federal immigration court. In this powerful series of essays she tells the poignant stories of the children she met, situating them in the wider context of the troubled relationship between the Americas. Read the review
by Neil Gaiman (2002)
From the Sandman comics to his fantasy epic American Gods to Twitter, Gaiman towers over the world of books. But this perfectly achieved children’s novella, in which a plucky young girl enters a parallel world where her “Other Mother” is a spooky copy of her real-life mum, with buttons for eyes, might be his finest hour: a properly scary modern myth which cuts right to the heart of childhood fears and desires. Read the review
by Jim Crace (2013)
Crace is fascinated by the moment when one era gives way to another. Here, it is the enclosure of the commons, a fulcrum of English history, that drives his story of dispossession and displacement. Set in a village without a name, the narrative dramatises what it’s like to see the world you know come to an end, in a severance of the connection between people and land that has deep relevance for our time of climate crisis and forced migration. Read the review
Stories of Your Life and Others
By ted chiang (2002).
Melancholic and transcendent, Chiang’s eight, high-concept sci-fi stories exploring the nature of language, maths, religion and physics racked up numerous awards and a wider audience when ‘Story of Your Life’ was adapted into the 2016 film Arrival . Read the review
The Spirit Level
By richard wilkinson and kate pickett (2009).
An eye-opening study, based on overwhelming evidence, which revealed that among rich countries, the “more equal societies almost always do better” for all. Growth matters less than inequality, the authors argued: whether the issue is life expectancy, infant mortality, crime rates, obesity, literacy or recycling, the Scandinavian countries, say, will always win out over, say, the UK. Read the review
The Fifth Season
By nk jemisin (2015).
Jemisin became the first African American author to win the best novel category at the Hugo awards for her first book in the Broken Earth trilogy. In her intricate and richly imagined far future universe, the world is ending, ripped apart by relentless earthquakes and volcanoes. Against this apocalyptic backdrop she explores urgent questions of power and enslavement through the eyes of three women. “As this genre finally acknowledges that the dreams of the marginalised matter and that all of us have a future,” she said in her acceptance speech, “so will go the world. (Soon, I hope.)”
Signs Preceding the End of the World
By yuri herrera (2009), translated by lisa dillman (2015).
Makina sets off from her village in Mexico with a package from a local gangster and a message for her brother, who has been gone for three years. The story of her crossing to the US examines the blurring of boundaries, the commingling of languages and the blending of identities that complicate the idea of an eventual return. Read the review
Thinking, Fast and Slow
By daniel kahneman (2011).
The Nobel laureate’s unexpected bestseller, on the minutiae of decision-making, divides the brain into two. System One makes judgments quickly, intuitively and automatically, as when a batsman decides whether to cut or pull. System Two is slow, calculated and deliberate, like long division. But psychologist Kahneman argues that, although System Two thinks it is in control, many of our decisions are really made by System One. Read the review
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
By olga tokarczuk (2009), translated by antonia lloyd-jones (2018).
In this existential eco-thriller, a William Blake-obsessed eccentric investigates the murders of men and animals in a remote Polish village. More accessible and focused than Flights , the novel that won Tokarczuk the Man International Booker prize, it is no less profound in its examination of how atavistic male impulses, emboldened by the new rightwing politics of Europe, are endangering people, communities and nature itself. Read the review
Days Without End
By sebastian barry (2016).
In this savagely beautiful novel set during the Indian wars and American civil war, a young Irish boy flees famine-struck Sligo for Missouri. There he finds lifelong companionship with another emigrant, and they join the army on its brutal journey west, laying waste to Indian settlements. Viscerally focused and intense, yet imbued with the grandeur of the landscape, the book explores love, gender and survival with a rare, luminous power. Read the review
Nothing to Envy
By barbara demick (2009).
Los Angeles Times journalist Barbara Demick interviewed around 100 North Korean defectors for this propulsive work of narrative non-fiction, but she focuses on just six, all from the north-eastern city of Chongjin – closed to foreigners and less media-ready than Pyongyang. North Korea is revealed to be rife with poverty, corruption and violence but populated by resilient people with a remarkable ability to see past the propaganda all around them. Read the review
The Age of Surveillance Capitalism
By shoshana zuboff (2019).
An agenda-setting book that is devastating about the extent to which big tech sets out to manipulate us for profit. Not simply another expression of the “techlash”, Zuboff’s ambitious study identifies a new form of capitalism, one involving the monitoring and shaping of our behaviour, often without our knowledge, with profound implications for democracy. “Once we searched Google, but now Google searches us.” Read the review
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth
By chris ware (2000).
At the time when Ware won the Guardian first book award, no graphic novel had previously won a generalist literary prize. Emotional and artistic complexity are perfectly poised in this account of a listless 36-year-old office dogsbody who is thrown into an existential crisis by an encounter with his estranged dad. Read the review
Notes on a Scandal
By zoë heller (2003).
Sheba, a middle-aged teacher at a London comprehensive, begins an affair with her 15-year-old student - but we hear about it from a fellow teacher, the needy Barbara, whose obsessive nature drives the narrative. With shades of Patricia Highsmith, this teasing investigation into sex, class and loneliness is a dark marvel. Read the review
By javier marías (2011), translated by margaret jull costa (2013).
The Spanish master examines chance, love and death in the story of an apparently random killing that gradually reveals hidden depths. Marías constructs an elegant murder mystery from his trademark labyrinthine sentences, but this investigation is in pursuit of much meatier questions than whodunnit. Read the review
The Constant Gardener
By john le carré (2001).
The master of the cold war thriller turned his attention to the new world order in this chilling investigation into the corruption powering big pharma in Africa. Based on the case of a rogue antibiotics trial that killed and maimed children in Nigeria in the 1990s, it has all the dash and authority of his earlier novels while precisely and presciently anatomising the dangers of a rampant neo-imperialist capitalism. Read the review
The Silence of the Girls
By pat barker (2018).
If the western literary canon is founded on Homer, then it is founded on women’s silence. Barker’s extraordinary intervention, in which she replays the events of the Iliad from the point of view of the enslaved Trojan women, chimed with both the #MeToo movement and a wider drive to foreground suppressed voices. In a world still at war, it has chilling contemporary resonance. Read the review
Seven Brief Lessons on Physics
By carlo rovelli (2014).
A theoretical physicist opens a window on to the great questions of the universe with this 96-page overview of modern physics. Rovelli’s keen insight and striking metaphors make this the best introduction to subjects including relativity, quantum mechanics, cosmology, elementary particles and entropy outside of a course in advanced physics. Read the review
by Gillian Flynn (2012)
The deliciously dark US crime thriller that launched a thousand imitators and took the concept of the unreliable narrator to new heights. A woman disappears: we think we know whodunit, but we’re wrong. Flynn’s stylishly written portrait of a toxic marriage set against a backdrop of social and economic insecurity combines psychological depth with sheer unputdownable flair. Read the review
by Stephen King (2000)
Written after a near-fatal accident, this combination of memoir and masterclass by fiction’s most successful modern storyteller showcases the blunt, casual brilliance of King at his best. As well as being genuinely useful, it’s a fascinating chronicle of literary persistence, and of a lifelong love affair with language and narrative. Read the review
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
By rebecca skloot (2010).
Henrietta Lacks was a black American who died in agony of cancer in a “coloured” hospital ward in 1951. Her cells, taken without her knowledge during a biopsy, went on to change medical history, being used around the world to develop countless drugs. Skloot skilfully tells the extraordinary scientific story, but in this book the voices of the Lacks children are crucial – they have struggled desperately even as billions have been made from their mother’s “HeLa” cells. Read the review
By edward st aubyn (2006).
The fourth of the autobiographical Patrick Melrose novels finds the wealthy protagonist – whose flight from atrocious memories of child abuse into drug abuse was the focus of the first books – beginning to grope after redemption. Elegant wit and subtle psychology lift grim subject matter into seductive brilliance. Read the review
This House of Grief
By helen garner (2014).
A man drives his three sons into a deep pond and swims out, leaving them to drown. But was it an accident? This 2005 tragedy caught the attention of one of Australia’s greatest living writers. Garner puts herself centre stage in an account of Robert Farquharson’s trial that combines forensic detail and rich humanity. Read the review
by Alice Oswald (2002)
This book-length poem is a mesmerising tapestry of “the river’s mutterings”, based on three years of recording conversations with people who live and work on the River Dart in Devon. From swimmers to sewage workers, boatbuilders to bailiffs, salmon fishers to ferryman, the voices are varied and vividly brought to life. Read the review
The Beauty of the Husband
By anne carson (2002).
One of Canada’s most celebrated poets examines love and desire in a collection that describes itself as “a fictional essay in 39 tangos”. Carson charts the course of a doomed marriage in loose-limbed lines that follow the switchbacks of thought and feeling from first meeting through multiple infidelities to arrive at eventual divorce.
by Tony Judt (2005)
This grand survey of Europe since 1945 begins with the devastation left behind by the second world war and offers a panoramic narrative of the cold war from its beginnings to the collapse of the Soviet bloc – a part of which Judt witnessed firsthand in Czechoslovakia’s velvet revolution. A very complex story is told with page-turning urgency and what may now be read as nostalgic faith in “the European idea”. Read the review
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
By michael chabon (2000).
A love story to the golden age of comics in New York, Chabon’s Pulitzer-winner features two Jewish cousins, one smuggled out of occupied Prague, who create an anti-fascist comic book superhero called The Escapist. Their own adventures are as exciting and highly coloured as the ones they write and draw in this generous, open-hearted, deeply lovable rollercoaster of a book. Read the review
by Robert Macfarlane (2019)
A beautifully written and profound book, which takes the form of a series of (often hair-raising and claustrophobic) voyages underground – from the fjords of the Arctic to the Parisian catacombs. Trips below the surface inspire reflections on “deep” geological time and raise urgent questions about the human impact on planet Earth. Read the review
The Omnivore’s Dilemma
By michael pollan (2006).
An entertaining and highly influential book from the writer best known for his advice: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” The author follows four meals on their journey from field to plate – including one from McDonald’s and a locally sourced organic feast. Pollan is a skilled, amusing storyteller and The Omnivore’s Dilemma changed both food writing and the way we see food. Read the review
Women & Power
By mary beard (2017).
Based on Beard’s lectures on women’s voices and how they have been silenced, Women and Power was an enormous publishing success in the “ #MeToo ”’ year 2017. An exploration of misogyny, the origins of “gendered speech” in the classical era and the problems the male world has with strong women, this slim manifesto became an instant feminist classic. Read the review
True History of the Kelly Gang
By peter carey (2000).
Carey’s second Booker winner is an irresistible tour de force of literary ventriloquism: the supposed autobiography of 19th-century Australian outlaw and “wild colonial boy” Ned Kelly, inspired by a fragment of Kelly’s own prose and written as a glorious rush of semi-punctuated vernacular storytelling. Mythic and tender by turns, these are tall tales from a lost frontier. Read the review
By andrea levy (2004).
Pitted against a backdrop of prejudice, this London-set novel is told by four protagonists – Hortense and Gilbert, Jamaican migrants, and a stereotypically English couple, Queenie and Bernard. These varied perspectives, illuminated by love and loyalty, combine to create a thoughtful mosaic depicting the complex beginnings of Britain’s multicultural society. Read the review
by Colm Tóibín (2009)
Tóibín’s sixth novel is set in the 1950s, when more than 400,000 people left Ireland, and considers the emotional and existential impact of emigration on one young woman. Eilis makes a life for herself in New York, but is drawn back by the possibilities of the life she has lost at home. A universal story of love, endurance and missed chances, made radiant through Tóibín’s measured prose and tender understatement. Read the review
Oryx and Crake
By margaret atwood (2003).
In the first book in her dystopian MaddAddam trilogy, the Booker winner speculates about the havoc science can wreak on the world. The big warning here – don’t trust corporations to run the planet – is blaring louder and louder as the century progresses. Read the review
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
By jeanette winterson (2011).
The title is the question Winterson’s adoptive mother asked as she threw her daughter out, aged 16, for having a girlfriend. The autobiographical story behind Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit , and the trials of Winterson’s later life, is urgent, wise and moving. Read the review
By terry pratchett (2002).
Pratchett’s mighty Discworld series is a high point in modern fiction: a parody of fantasy literature that deepened and darkened over the decades to create incisive satires of our own world. The 29th book, focusing on unlikely heroes, displays all his fierce intelligence, anger and wild humour, in a story that’s moral, humane – and hilarious. Read the review
by Marjane Satrapi (2000-2003), translated by Mattias Ripa (2003-2004)
Satrapi’s autobiographical graphic novel follows her coming-of-age in the lead up to and during the Iranian revolution. In this riotous memoir, Satrapi focuses on one young life to reveal a hidden history.
By seamus heaney (2010).
The Nobel laureate tends to the fragments of memory and loss with moving precision in his final poetry collection. A book of elegies and echoes, these poems are infused with a haunting sense of pathos, with a line often left hanging to suspend the reader in longing and regret. Read the review
Levels of Life
By julian barnes (2013).
The British novelist combines fiction and non-fiction to form a searing essay on grief and love for his late wife, the literary agent Pat Kavanagh. Barnes divides the book into three parts with disparate themes – 19th-century ballooning, photography and marriage. Their convergence is wonderfully achieved. Read the review
Hope in the Dark
By rebecca solnit (2004).
Writing against “the tremendous despair at the height of the Bush administration’s powers and the outset of the war in Iraq”, the US thinker finds optimism in political activism and its ability to change the world. The book ranges widely from the fall of the Berlin wall to the Zapatista uprising in Mexico, to the invention of Viagra. Read the review
Citizen: An American Lyric
By claudia rankine (2014).
From the slow emergency response in the black suburbs destroyed by hurricane Katrina to a mother trying to move her daughter away from a black passenger on a plane, the poet’s award-winning prose work confronts the history of racism in the US and asks: regardless of their actual status, who truly gets to be a citizen? Read the review
by Michael Lewis (2010)
The author of The Big Short has made a career out of rendering the most opaque subject matter entertaining and comprehensible: Moneyball tells the story of how geeks outsmarted jocks to revolutionise baseball using maths. But you do not need to know or care about the sport, because – as with all Lewis’s best writing – it’s all about how the story is told. Read the review
by Ian McEwan (2001)
There are echoes of DH Lawrence and EM Forster in McEwan’s finely tuned dissection of memory and guilt. The fates of three young people are altered by a young girl’s lie at the close of a sweltering day on a country estate in 1935. Lifelong remorse, the horror of war and devastating twists are to follow in an elegant, deeply felt meditation on the power of love and art. Read the review
The Year of Magical Thinking
By joan didion (2005).
With cold, clear, precise prose, Didion gives an account of the year her husband, the writer John Gregory Dunne, collapsed from a fatal heart attack in their home. Her devastating examination of grief and widowhood changed the nature of writing about bereavement. Read the review
By zadie smith (2000).
Set around the unlikely bond between two wartime friends, Smith’s debut brilliantly captures Britain’s multicultural spirit, and offers a compelling insight into immigrant family life.
The Line of Beauty
By alan hollinghurst (2004).
Oxford graduate Nick Guest has the questionable good fortune of moving into the grand west London home of a rising Tory MP. Thatcher-era degeneracy is lavishly displayed as Nick falls in love with the son of a supermarket magnate, and the novel records how Aids began to poison gay life in London. In peerless prose, Hollinghurst captures something close to the spirit of an age. Read the review
The Green Road
By anne enright (2015).
A reunion dominates the Irish novelist’s family drama, but the individual stories of the five members of the Madigan clan – the matriarch, Rosaleen, and her children, Dan, Emmet, Constance and Hanna, who escape and are bound to return – are beautifully held in balance. When the Madigans do finally come together halfway through the book, Enright masterfully reminds us of the weight of history and family. Read the review
by Martin Amis (2000)
Known for the firecracker phrases and broad satires of his fiction, Amis presented a much warmer face in his memoir. His life is haunted by the disappearance of his cousin Lucy, who is revealed 20 years later to have been murdered by Fred West. But Amis also has much fun recollecting his “velvet-suited, snakeskin-booted” youth, and paints a moving portrait of his father’s comic gusto as old age reduces him to a kind of “anti-Kingsley”. Read the review
The Hare with Amber Eyes
By edmund de waal (2010).
In this exquisite family memoir, the ceramicist explains how he came to inherit a collection of 264 netsuke – small Japanese ornaments – from his great-uncle. The unlikely survival of the netsuke entails De Waal telling a story that moves from Paris to Austria under the Nazis to Japan, and he beautifully conjures a sense of place. The book doubles as a set of profound reflections on objects and what they mean to us. Read the review
Outline by Rachel
This startling work of autofiction, which signalled a new direction for Cusk, follows an author teaching a creative writing course over one hot summer in Athens. She leads storytelling exercises. She meets other writers for dinner. She hears from other people about relationships, ambition, solitude, intimacy and “the disgust that exists indelibly between men and women”. The end result is sublime. Read the review
by Alison Bechdel (2006)
The American cartoonist’s darkly humorous memoir tells the story of how her closeted gay father killed himself a few months after she came out as a lesbian. This pioneering work, which later became a musical, helped shape the modern genre of “graphic memoir”, combining detailed and beautiful panels with remarkable emotional depth. Read the review
The Emperor of All Maladies
By siddhartha mukherjee (2010).
“Normal cells are identically normal; malignant cells become unhappily malignant in unique ways.” In adapting the opening lines of Anna Karenina , Mukherjee sets out the breathtaking ambition of his study of cancer: not only to share the knowledge of a practising oncologist but to take his readers on a literary and historical journey. Read the review
By maggie nelson (2015).
An electrifying memoir that captured a moment in thinking about gender, and also changed the world of books. The story, told in fragments, is of Nelson’s pregnancy, which unfolds at the same time as her partner, the artist Harry Dodge, is beginning testosterone injections: “the summer of our changing bodies”. Strikingly honest, originally written, with a galaxy of intellectual reference points, it is essentially a love story; one that seems to make a new way of living possible. Read the review
The Underground Railroad
By colson whitehead (2016).
A thrilling, genre-bending tale of escape from slavery in the American deep south, this Pulitzer prize-winner combines extraordinary prose and uncomfortable truths. Two slaves flee their masters using the underground railroad, the network of abolitionists who helped slaves out of the south, wonderfully reimagined by Whitehead as a steampunk vision of a literal train. Read the review
A Death in the Family
By karl ove knausgaard (2009), translated by don bartlett (2012).
The first instalment of Knausgaard’s relentlessly self-examining six-volume series My Struggle revolves around the life and death of his alcoholic father. Whether or not you regard him as the Proust of memoir, his compulsive honesty created a new benchmark for autofiction. Read the review
by Carol Ann Duffy (2005)
A moving, book-length poem from the UK’s first female poet laureate, Rapture won the TS Eliot prize in 2005. From falling in love to betrayal and separation, Duffy reimagines romance with refreshing originality. Read the review
Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage
By alice munro (2001).
Canada’s observant and humane short story writer, who won the Nobel in 2013, is at her best in this collection. A housekeeper’s fate is changed by the pranks of her employer’s teenager daughter; an incorrigible flirt gracefully accepts his wife’s new romance in her care home. No character acts as at first expected in Munro’s stories, which are attuned to the tiniest shifts in perception. Read the review
Capital in the Twenty First Century
By thomas piketty (2013), translated by arthur goldhammer (2014).
The beautifully written product of 15 years of research, Capital made its author an intellectual star – the modern Marx – and opened readers’ eyes to how neoliberalism produces vastly increased inequalities. Full of data, theories and historical analysis, its message is clear, and prophetic: unless governments increase tax, the new and grotesque wealth levels of the rich will encourage political instability. Read the review
By sally rooney (2018).
Rooney’s second novel, a love story between two clever and damaged young people coming of age in contemporary Ireland, confirmed her status as a literary superstar. Her focus is on the dislocation and uncertainty of millennial life, but her elegant prose has universal appeal. Read the review
A Visit from The Goon Squad
By jennifer egan (2011).
Inspired by both Proust and The Sopranos , Egan’s Pulitzer-winning comedy follows several characters in and around the US music industry, but is really a book about memory and kinship, time and narrative, continuity and disconnection. Read the review
The Noonday Demon
By andrew solomon (2001).
Emerging from Solomon’s own painful experience, this “anatomy” of depression examines its many faces – plus its science, sociology and treatment. The book’s combination of honesty, scholarly rigour and poetry made it a benchmark in literary memoir and understanding of mental health. Read the review
Tenth of December
By george saunders (2013).
This warm yet biting collection of short stories by the Booker-winning American author will restore your faith in humanity. No matter how weird the setting – a futuristic prison lab, a middle-class home where human lawn ornaments are employed as a status symbol – in these surreal satires of post-crash life Saunders reminds us of the meaning we find in small moments. Read the review
by Yuval Noah Harari (2011), translated by Harari with John Purcell and Haim Watzman (2014)
In his Olympian history of humanity, Harari documents the numerous revolutions Homo sapiens has undergone over the last 70,000 years: from new leaps in cognitive reasoning to agriculture, science and industry, the era of information and the possibilities of biotechnology. Harari’s scope may be too wide for some, but this engaging work topped the charts and made millions marvel. Read the review
Life After Life
By kate atkinson (2013).
Atkinson examines family, history and the power of fiction as she tells the story of a woman born in 1910 – and then tells it again, and again, and again. Ursula Todd’s multiple lives see her strangled at birth, drowned on a Cornish beach, trapped in an awful marriage and visiting Adolf Hitler at Berchtesgaden. But this dizzying fictional construction is grounded by such emotional intelligence that her heroine’s struggles always feel painfully, joyously real. Read the review
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night‑Time
By mark haddon (2003).
Fifteen-year-old Christopher John Francis Boone becomes absorbed in the mystery of a dog’s demise, meticulously investigating through diagrams, timetables, maps and maths problems. Haddon’s fascinating portrayal of an unconventional mind was a crossover hit with both adults and children and was adapted into a very successful stage play. Read the review
The Shock Doctrine
By naomi klein (2007).
In this urgent examination of free-market fundamentalism, Klein argues – with accompanying reportage – that the social breakdowns witnessed during decades of neoliberal economic policies are not accidental, but in fact integral to the functioning of the free market, which relies on disaster and human suffering to function. Read the review
by Cormac McCarthy (2006)
A father and his young son, “each the other’s world entire”, trawl across the ruins of post-apocalyptic America in this terrifying but tender story told with biblical conviction. The slide into savagery as civilisation collapses is harrowing material, but McCarthy’s metaphysical efforts to imagine a cold dark universe where the light of humanity is winking out are what make the novel such a powerful ecological warning. Read the review
By jonathan franzen (2001).
The members of one ordinarily unhappy American family struggle to adjust to the shifting axes of their worlds over the final decades of the 20th century. Franzen’s move into realism reaped huge literary rewards: exploring both domestic and national conflict, this family saga is clever, funny and outrageously readable. Read the review
The Sixth Extinction
By elizabeth kolbert (2014).
The science journalist examines with clarity and memorable detail the current crisis of plant and animal loss caused by human civilisation (over the past half billion years, there have been five mass extinctions on Earth; we are causing another). Kolbert considers both ecosystems – the Great Barrier Reef, the Amazon rainforest – and the lives of some extinct and soon-to-be extinct creatures including the Sumatran rhino and “the most beautiful bird in the world”, the black-faced honeycreeper of Maui. Read the review
By sarah waters (2002).
Moving from the underworld dens of Victorian London to the boudoirs of country house gothic, and hingeing on the seduction of an heiress, Waters’s third novel is a drippingly atmospheric thriller, a smart study of innocence and experience, and a sensuous lesbian love story – with a plot twist to make the reader gasp. Read the review
Nickel and Dimed
By barbara ehrenreich (2001).
In this modern classic of reportage, Ehrenreich chronicled her attempts to live on the minimum wage in three American states. Working first as a waitress, then a cleaner and a nursing home aide, she still struggled to survive, and the stories of her co-workers are shocking. The US economy as she experienced it is full of routine humiliation, with demands as high as the rewards are low. Two decades on, this still reads like urgent news. Read the review
The Plot Against America
By philip roth (2004).
What if aviator Charles Lindbergh, who once called Hitler “a great man”, had won the US presidency in a landslide victory and signed a treaty with Nazi Germany? Paranoid yet plausible, Roth’s alternative-world novel is only more relevant in the age of Trump. Read the review
My Brilliant Friend
By elena ferrante (2011), translated by ann goldstein (2012).
Powerfully intimate and unashamedly domestic, the first in Ferrante’s Neapolitan series established her as a literary sensation. This and the three novels that followed documented the ways misogyny and violence could determine lives, as well as the history of Italy in the late 20th century.
Half of a Yellow Sun
By chimamanda ngozi adichie (2006).
When Nigerian author Adichie was growing up, the Biafran war “hovered over everything”. Her sweeping, evocative novel, which won the Orange prize, charts the political and personal struggles of those caught up in the conflict and explores the brutal legacy of colonialism in Africa. Read the review
David mitchell (2004).
The epic that made Mitchell’s name is a Russian doll of a book, nesting stories within stories and spanning centuries and genres with aplomb. From a 19th-century seafarer to a tale from beyond the end of civilisation, via 1970s nuclear intrigue and the testimony of a future clone, these dizzying narratives are delicately interlinked, highlighting the echoes and recurrences of the vast human symphony. Read the review
by Ali Smith (2016)
Smith began writing her Seasonal Quartet, a still-ongoing experiment in quickfire publishing, against the background of the EU referendum. The resulting “first Brexit novel” isn’t just a snapshot of a newly divided Britain, but a dazzling exploration into love and art, time and dreams, life and death, all done with her customary invention and wit. Read the review
Between the World and Me
By ta-nehisi coates (2015).
Coates’s impassioned meditation on what it means to be a black American today made him one of the country’s most important intellectuals and writers. Having grown up the son of a former Black Panther on the violent streets of Baltimore, he has a voice that is challenging but also poetic. Between the World and Me takes the form of a letter to his teenage son, and ranges from the daily reality of racial injustice and police violence to the history of slavery and the civil war: white people, he writes, will never remember “the scale of theft that enriched them”. Read the review
The Amber Spyglass
By philip pullman (2000).
Children’s fiction came of age when the final part of Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy became the first book for younger readers to win the Whitbread book of the year award. Pullman has brought imaginative fire and storytelling bravado to the weightiest of subjects: religion, free will, totalitarian structures and the human drive to learn, rebel and grow. Here Asriel’s struggle against the Authority reaches its climax, Lyra and Will journey to the Land of the Dead, and Mary investigates the mysterious elementary particles that lend their name to his current trilogy: The Book of Dust. The Hollywood-fuelled commercial success achieved by JK Rowling may have eluded Pullman so far, but his sophisticated reworking of Paradise Lost helped adult readers throw off any embarrassment at enjoying fiction written for children – and publishing has never looked back. Read the review
by WG Sebald (2001), translated by Anthea Bell (2001)
Sebald died in a car crash in 2001, but his genre-defying mix of fact and fiction, keen sense of the moral weight of history and interleaving of inner and outer journeys have had a huge influence on the contemporary literary landscape. His final work, the typically allusive life story of one man, charts the Jewish disapora and lost 20th century with heartbreaking power. Read the review
Never Let Me Go
By kazuo ishiguro (2005).
From his 1989 Booker winner The Remains of the Day to 2015’s The Buried Giant , Nobel laureate Ishiguro writes profound, puzzling allegories about history, nationalism and the individual’s place in a world that is always beyond our understanding. His sixth novel, a love triangle set among human clones in an alternative 1990s England, brings exquisite understatement to its exploration of mortality, loss and what it means to be human. Read the review
By svetlana alexievich (2013), translated by bela shayevich (2016).
The Belarusian Nobel laureate recorded thousands of hours of testimony from ordinary people to create this oral history of the Soviet Union and its end. Writers, waiters, doctors, soldiers, former Kremlin apparatchiks, gulag survivors: all are given space to tell their stories, share their anger and betrayal, and voice their worries about the transition to capitalism. An unforgettable book, which is both an act of catharsis and a profound demonstration of empathy.
by Marilynne Robinson (2004)
Robinson’s meditative, deeply philosophical novel is told through letters written by elderly preacher John Ames in the 1950s to his young son who, when he finally reaches an adulthood his father won’t see, will at least have this posthumous one-sided conversation: “While you read this, I am imperishable, somehow more alive than I have ever been.” This is a book about legacy, a record of a pocket of America that will never return, a reminder of the heartbreaking, ephemeral beauty that can be found in everyday life. As Ames concludes, to his son and himself: “There are a thousand thousand reasons to live this life, every one of them sufficient.” Read the review
by Hilary Mantel (2009)
Mantel had been publishing for a quarter century before the project that made her a phenomenon, set to be concluded with the third part of the trilogy, The Mirror and the Light , next March. To read her story of the rise of Thomas Cromwell at the Tudor court, detailing the making of a new England and the self-creation of a new kind of man, is to step into the stream of her irresistibly authoritative present tense and find oneself looking out from behind her hero’s eyes. The surface details are sensuously, vividly immediate, the language as fresh as new paint; but her exploration of power, fate and fortune is also deeply considered and constantly in dialogue with our own era, as we are shaped and created by the past. In this book we have, as she intended, “a sense of history listening and talking to itself”. Read the review
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- Main content
The 23 most popular books of the past year, according to Goodreads members
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- If you're looking for a great new book, it can be difficult to know where to start.
- The books on this list are the most popular reads among Goodreads members in the past year.
- The titles range from new romances to classics and everything in between.
Because there are nearly infinite books in the world, it can be difficult to know which one to pick up next. When I don't know what to read, I turn to fellow readers for the books they've read and adored, gravitating towards the titles I hear my friends mention over and over again.
Similarly, the internet can provide plenty of word-of-mouth reviews and rankings. The books on this list come from the most popular Goodreads members picked up in the last year, according to the 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge (where readers aim to read as many books as they can in one year). Goodreads is the world's largest platform for readers to rate, review, and discover new book recommendations, with over 125 million members sharing their favorite reads.
If you're looking to start off the new year right with a great new read, here are some of the most popular books readers are snagging right now.
The 23 most popular books right now, according to Goodreads members:
"the midnight library" by matt haig.
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $13.29
Nora Seed feels stuck in her life, bound to the choices she made that she still isn't sure were right. When Nora is ready to leave it all behind, she finds herself in a peculiar library, where each of the infinite books offers a portal to a parallel world, showing her all the many ways her life could have been slightly or drastically different, had she made other decisions.
"The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue" by V.E. Schwab
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $16.19
" The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue " is a genre-bending fantasy book about a young woman named Addie who, in 1714, makes a bargain with a dark god and becomes cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets. Addie's story spans three centuries and countless countries — until she meets a boy in New York City in 2014 who can finally remember her.
"The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo" by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $9.42
Evelyn Hugo was an iconic Hollywood actress, just as notoriously remembered for her seven marriages as she was for her movie performances. Finally ready to tell her story, Evelyn Hugo chooses a little-known journalist named Monique, who goes to Evelyn's luxurious apartment to hear the truth behind Evelyn's lifetime of friendships, ambitions, and many loves.
"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.19
Considered one of the greatest novels of all time , " To Kill a Mockingbird " is an unforgettable historical fiction novel from 1960 that follows young Jean Louise Finch during a time of great racial inequality in her community. Her father, Atticus Finch, is a lawyer defending a Black man wrongly accused of a terrible crime as he faces a community desperate for a guilty conviction.
"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $12.44
" The Great Gatsby " is a classic about the wealthy Jay Gatsby, set during the Jazz Age in New York. When Nick Carraway moved to Long Island to find a job in New York City as a bond salesman, he meets his next-door neighbor, Jay Gatsby, who throws extravagant parties and is constantly in pursuit of the stunning Daisy Buchanan.
"Where the Crawdads Sing" by Delia Owens
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $9.98
Kya Clark is known to most as the "Marsh Girl," running barefoot and wild in her quiet fishing village, having attended only one day of school. When a popular young boy is murdered, Kya's story unravels as the town accuses her of causing his death.
"1984" by George Orwell
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.48
" 1984 " is an iconic science fiction novel that imagines a dystopian future ruled by a totalitarian state, perpetually at war and at the mercy of strong propaganda. Winston Smith works at the Ministry of Truth, rewriting historical records to conform to the state's version of events while secretly dreaming of rebellion and imagining what life would be like without Big Brother.
"Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $5.47
" Pride and Prejudice " is a cherished, classic Jane Austen romance between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Loved for their unique relationship comprised of witty banter and flirting, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy fall for each other in this story of class, wealth, and the duty of marriage.
"The Song of Achilles" by Madeline Miller
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $10.35
In this Greek mythology-inspired tale , Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled by his father because of a misunderstanding when he meets the legendary Achilles. As the two form a unique relationship, Helen of Sparta is kidnapped and Achilles, along with all the heroes in Greece, joins the cause against Troy as they face a choice between love and fate.
"The Vanishing Half" by Brit Bennett
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $15.70
Though the Vignes twin sisters grew up identical in their small, southern community, their lives split in young adulthood as one sister now lives in the same community with her Black daughter while the other passes for white in a white community. A beautiful story of influence and decisions emerges as their lives intersect over generations when their daughters finally meet.
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The Greatest Books of All Time
This list is generated from 130 "best of" book lists from a variety of great sources. An algorithm is used to create a master list based on how many lists a particular book appears on. Some lists count more than others. I generally trust "best of all time" lists voted by authors and experts over user-generated lists. On the lists that are actually ranked, the book that is 1st counts a lot more than the book that's 100th. If you're interested in the details about how the rankings are generated and which lists are the most important(in my eyes) please check out the list details page .
If you have any comments, suggestions, or corrections please feel free to e-mail me.
1 . In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
Swann's Way, the first part of A la recherche de temps perdu, Marcel Proust's seven-part cycle, was published in 1913. In it, Proust introduces the themes that run through the entire work. The narr...
- I've read this book
- I want to read this book
2 . Ulysses by James Joyce
Ulysses chronicles the passage of Leopold Bloom through Dublin during an ordinary day, June 16, 1904. The title parallels and alludes to Odysseus (Latinised into Ulysses), the hero of Homer's Odyss...
3 . Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Alonso Quixano, a retired country gentleman in his fifties, lives in an unnamed section of La Mancha with his niece and a housekeeper. He has become obsessed with books of chivalry, and believes th...
4 . One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
One of the 20th century's enduring works, One Hundred Years of Solitude is a widely beloved and acclaimed novel known throughout the world, and the ultimate achievement in a Nobel Prize–winning car...
5 . The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The novel chronicles an era that Fitzgerald himself dubbed the "Jazz Age". Following the shock and chaos of World War I, American society enjoyed unprecedented levels of prosperity during the "roar...
6 . Moby Dick by Herman Melville
First published in 1851, Melville's masterpiece is, in Elizabeth Hardwick's words, "the greatest novel in American literature." The saga of Captain Ahab and his monomaniacal pursuit of the white wh...
7 . War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Epic in scale, War and Peace delineates in graphic detail events leading up to Napoleon's invasion of Russia, and the impact of the Napoleonic era on Tsarist society, as seen through the eyes of fi...
8 . Hamlet by William Shakespeare
The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601. The play, set in Denmark, recounts how Pri...
9 . The Odyssey by Homer
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work traditionally ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the m...
10 . Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
For daring to peer into the heart of an adulteress and enumerate its contents with profound dispassion, the author of Madame Bovary was tried for "offenses against morality and religion." What shoc...
11 . The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
Belonging in the immortal company of the great works of literature, Dante Alighieri's poetic masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, is a moving human drama, an unforgettable visionary journey through the ...
12 . Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
The book is internationally famous for its innovative style and infamous for its controversial subject: the protagonist and unreliable narrator, middle aged Humbert Humbert, becomes obsessed and se...
13 . The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Dostoevsky's last and greatest novel, The Karamazov Brothers, is both a brilliantly told crime story and a passionate philosophical debate. The dissolute landowner Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov is mur...
14 . Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
It is a murder story, told from a murder;s point of view, that implicates even the most innocent reader in its enormities. It is a cat-and-mouse game between a tormented young killer and a cheerful...
15 . Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
The narrative is non-linear, involving several flashbacks, and two primary narrators: Mr. Lockwood and Ellen "Nelly" Dean. The novel opens in 1801, with Mr. Lockwood arriving at Thrushcross Grange,...
16 . The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye is a 1945 novel by J. D. Salinger. Originally published for adults, the novel has become a common part of high school and college curricula throughout the English-speaking wo...
17 . Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The book is narrated in free indirect speech following the main character Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with matters of upbringing, marriage, moral rightness and education in her aristocratic socie...
18 . The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Revered by all of the town's children and dreaded by all of its mothers, Huckleberry Finn is indisputably the most appealing child-hero in American literature. Unlike the tall-tale, idyllic worl...
19 . Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Anna Karenina tells of the doomed love affair between the sensuous and rebellious Anna and the dashing officer, Count Vronsky. Tragedy unfolds as Anna rejects her passionless marriage and must endu...
20 . Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
In 1862 Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a shy Oxford mathematician with a stammer, created a story about a little girl tumbling down a rabbit hole. Thus began the immortal adventures of Alice, perhaps th...
21 . The Iliad by Homer
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set in the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of Ilium by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and e...
22 . To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
A landmark novel of high modernism, the text, centering on the Ramsay family and their visits to the Isle of Skye in Scotland between 1910 and 1920, skillfully manipulates temporality and psycholog...
23 . Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Catch-22 is a satirical, historical novel by the American author Joseph Heller, first published in 1961. The novel, set during the later stages of World War II from 1943 onwards, is frequently cite...
24 . Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
The story details an incident when Marlow, an Englishman, took a foreign assignment from a Belgian trading company as a ferry-boat captain in Africa. Although Conrad does not specify the name of th...
25 . The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
The Sound and the Fury is set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County. The novel centers on the Compson family, former Southern aristocrats who are struggling to deal with the dissolution of their fa...
26 . Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell
The story follows the life of one seemingly insignificant man, Winston Smith, a civil servant assigned the task of perpetuating the regime's propaganda by falsifying records and political literatur...
27 . Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Great Expectations is written in the genre of "bildungsroman" or the style of book that follows the story of a man or woman in their quest for maturity, usually starting from childhood and ending i...
28 . One Thousand and One Nights by India/Iran/Iraq/Egypt
One Thousand and One Nights is a collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. It is often known in English as the Arabian Ni...
29 . The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Set during the Great Depression, the novel focuses on a poor family of sharecroppers, the Joads, driven from their home by drought, economic hardship, and changes in the agriculture industry. In a ...
30 . Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
Absalom, Absalom! is a Southern Gothic novel by the American author William Faulkner, first published in 1936. It is a story about three families of the American South, taking place before, during,...
31 . Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
The novel addresses many of the social and intellectual issues facing African-Americans in the early twentieth century, including black nationalism, the relationship between black identity and Marx...
32 . To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
As a Southern Gothic novel and a Bildungsroman, the primary themes of To Kill a Mockingbird involve racial injustice and the destruction of innocence. Scholars have noted that Lee also addresses is...
33 . The Trial by Franz Kafka
Written in 1914, The Trial is one of the most important novels of the twentieth century: the terrifying tale of Josef K., a respectable bank officer who is suddenly and inexplicably arrested and mu...
34 . The Red and the Black by Stendhal
Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black), subtitled Chronique du XIXe siécle ("Chronicle of the 19th century"), is an historical psychological novel in two volumes by Stendhal, published in 1830...
35 . Middlemarch by George Eliot
Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life is a novel by George Eliot, the pen name of Mary Anne Evans, later Marian Evans. It is her seventh novel, begun in 1869 and then put aside during the final i...
36 . Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
From the preeminent prose satirist in the English language, a great classic recounting the four remarkable journeys of ship's surgeon Lemuel Gulliver. For children it remains an enchanting fantasy;...
37 . Beloved by Toni Morrison
Beloved (1987) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison. The novel, her fifth, is loosely based on the life and legal case of the slave Margaret Garner, about whom Morrison...
38 . Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Created from two short stories, "Mrs Dalloway in Bond Street" and the unfinished "The Prime Minister", the novel's story is of Clarissa's preparations for a party of which she is to be hostess. Wit...
39 . The Stories of Anton Chekhov by Anton Chekhov
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was a Russian short-story writer, playwright and physician, considered to be one of the greatest short-story writers in the history of world literature. His career as a dram...
40 . The Stranger by Albert Camus
Since it was first published in English, in 1946, Albert Camus's extraordinary first novel, The Stranger (L'Etranger), has had a profound impact on millions of American readers. Through this story ...
41 . Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre is a first-person narrative of the title character, a small, plain-faced, intelligent and honest English orphan. The novel goes through five distinct stages: Jane's childhood at Gateshead...
42 . The Aeneid by Virgil
The Aeneid is a Latin epic poem written by Virgil in the late 1st century BC (29–19 BC) that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who traveled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the...
43 . Collected Fiction by Jorge Luis Borges
From his 1935 debut with The Universal History of Iniquity, through his immensely influential collections Ficciones and The Aleph, these enigmatic, elaborate, imaginative inventions display Borges'...
44 . The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
The novel explores the lives and values of the so-called "Lost Generation," chronicling the experiences of Jake Barnes and several acquaintances on their pilgrimage to Pamplona for the annual San F...
45 . David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The story of the abandoned waif who learns to survive through challenging encounters with distress and misfortune.
46 . Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne
As its title suggests, the book is ostensibly Tristram's narration of his life story. But it is one of the central jokes of the novel that he cannot explain anything simply, that he must make expla...
47 . Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Leaves of Grass (1855) is a poetry collection by the American poet Walt Whitman. Among the poems in the collection are "Song of Myself," "I Sing the Body Electric," "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Roc...
48 . The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
The Magic Mountain is a novel by Thomas Mann, first published in November 1924. It is widely considered to be one of the most influential works of 20th century German literature.
49 . A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a semi-autobiographical novel by James Joyce, first serialized in The Egoist from 1914 to 1915 and published in book form in 1916. It depicts the formativ...
50 . Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
Midnight's Children is a loose allegory for events in India both before and, primarily, after the independence and partition of India, which took place at midnight on 15 August 1947. The protagonis...
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Top 100 books of all time
Yuval Noah Harari
Man's Search for Meaning
Viktor e. frankl.
Thinking, Fast and Slow
Zero to One
The 4-Hour Workweek
Robert B. Cialdini, PhD
The Hard Thing About Hard Things
The War of Art
The Innovator's Dilemma
Clayton m. christensen.
High Output Management
How To Win Friends and Influence People
Nassim nicholas taleb.
Good to Great
Carol S. Dweck
The Lean Startup
"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!"
Richard p. feynman.
The Black Swan
Poor Charlie's Almanack
The Four Agreements
Don miguel ruiz.
The Lord of the Rings
The Selfish Gene
Tools of Titans
Skin in the Game
12 Rules for Life
Tao Te Ching
How to Change Your Mind
The Three-Body Problem
The Intelligent Investor
The Lessons of History
Will & ariel durant.
The Ride of a Lifetime
The Catcher in the Rye
The Power of Habit
Guns, Germs, and Steel
The Great Gatsby
F. scott fitzgerald.
When Breath Becomes Air
Crime and Punishment
Brave New World
The Courage to Be Disliked
The Checklist Manifesto
Fooled by Randomness
The Art of War
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Stephen r. covey.
The Design of Everyday Things
The Psychology of Money
Why We Sleep
The Undoing Project
The Effective Executive
Peter f. drucker.
Made to Stick
Chip & dan heath.
Project Hail Mary
High Growth Handbook
Crossing the Chasm
Geoffrey a. moore.
The Score Takes Care of Itself
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Robert m. pirsig.
Gabriel Weinberg & Justin Mares
Bird by Bird
The Better Angels of Our Nature
The Almanack of Naval Ravikant
The Obstacle Is the Way
Start with Why
The Beginning of Infinity
Orson scott card.
Stumbling on Happiness
Daniel todd gilbert.
Finite and Infinite Games
The E-Myth Revisited
Michael e. gerber.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
How Not to Die
Dr. michael greger.
Can't Hurt Me
David goggins, featured people.