10 Great Books

After spending a good time organizing my apartment this weekend, I found myself revisiting some of my favorite titles. I even found my Nook in one of the drawers in my living room. Reading has played such an important role in my adult life.
The truth is that I hated to read when I was growing up. I was always bogged down by required reading lists, stupid pop quizzes, and boring textbook reading homework. I’ve always held strong opinions about things and I actually boycotted reading in elementary school. I thought it was ridiculous that we were rewarded with AR points (accelerated reading program) that would grant special prizes and privileges. I guess in theory this works because it might inspire a child to fall in love with reading, but in my competitive class… it just meant that everyone “read” Johnny Tremain because it had some huge AR point value. Which I found ridiculous.
It’s not like I never picked up a book (I freakishly loved Caroline B. Cooney books in middle school), but I didn’t like how books and reading were treated as tasks instead of something to love.
Anyway, fast-forward to college and books became my absolute escape. I definitely had tons of required reading, but because I was in the business school it was all dry textbook reading. All of a sudden, I really understood the magic of reading. It sounds totally lame and cliche, but it couldn’t be more true. For me, it’s the best way to “get out of my own head” if that makes any sense. I found myself getting terribly emotionally connected to characters, learning about nuance subjects, and getting a break from the stresses of college.
I buy real books now because I actually (sort of) have space for them and I’m not moving every ten months. In college, I would either download ebooks or go to the public library. If I went to the library, I had this system where I would let myself get four books, one from each major section: young adult (guilty pleasure of mine), biography, non-fiction (I would typically get two from here), and then one regular fiction. I liked breaking up the types of books I read, but every book was one that I actually wanted to read. Freedom from the school system, if you ask me! I read in the dining hall in college and between classes sometimes so I read a lot more, but now I try to read for at least 45 minutes a day… but even if I only can squeeze in a page, that will do.

One of my favorite parts about reading? Sharing recommendations! I am obsessed with sharing my favorites. I have certain friends who will text me when they’re in a bookstore or about to go on a long trip asking for recommendations. My mom and one of my really good friends have kind of gone through all my recommendations because they read more than I do! But when I have someone new ask me for books, I have a good go-to list of some “everyone will love” books.

Below are ten books that I often find myself recommending. I think you’ll be able to find at least one that piques your interest:

Rules of Civility | An easy, entertaining read that every girl will like. It’s a beautiful depiction of New York City that made me fall madly in love with this place again. If you’re a Great Gatsby fan, you’ll really enjoy this one.

The Age of Miracles | This book is a strangely powerful read. I literally couldn’t put it down. (I would take the local train to work instead of the express just for more time to read!) The story haunted me for days after I finished actually.

The Power of One | Definitely a longer read, however, the story will carry you through it at a decent pace. A good pick for a long trip or if you have time to chip away at it. The best part about the length of the book is that you have time to really connect with characters and watch their nuanced development. It follows a young boy during the apartheid in South Africa as he attempts his life goal of being the Welterweight Champion of the world.

The Boys in the Boat | Easily one of the best books I’ve read ever. Even if you’re not a fan of non-fiction literature, you’ll still find the story captivating. The book follows the University of Washington rowing team as they compete for a slot in the 1936 Olympics. Great read for athletes (especially rowers!) and history buffs.

Firefly Lane | While I would say this falls into the category of “chic lit,” it’s not your typical beach read. (Although I think it is perfect for reading at the beach.) It’s an interesting glance at the age old fact that the grass isn’t always greener. A must-read if you’ve ever felt the pressure of having to choose between family and career.

The Devil in the White City | I loved this book. It’s a historical non-fiction book that follows two stories in Chicago at the turn of the 20th century. Read how Chicago hosted the 1893 World’s Fair and all the drama involved with the planning and development of city landmarks alongside the story of a serial killer leaching off unsuspecting travelers. (There are also some great tie-ins to DC’s monuments and NYC’s Central Park!)

L.A. Candy | An absolute guilty pleasure, but it’s so worth it. If you need a super quick, bubblegum for the brain read, this is it! It’s by Lauren Conrad (aka a ghostwriter), but it’s just a light, fun read. It’s great for anyone who loved Lauren’s character on Laguna Beach and The Hills. I actually loved the entire series!

The Help | This is one of those books that it seemed like everyone was reading one summer. I never wanted it to end. If you haven’t read it, you have to. It’s one of the best stories with some of the best characters.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother | I have a strange fascination with pushy parents– probably why I’m a fan of Dance Moms and Toddlers in Tiaras. I also grew up in the math league circuit and, while my parents were super laid back about the whole thing, there were some parents who pushed their kids so (almost too) hard. The book is written by a self-proclaimed tiger mother. It made me think a lot about different types of parenting and blurred the lines for me on good/bad choices for kids.

My Sister’s Keeper | I recommend almost all of Jodi Picoult books, but this one is my favorite. Even if you’ve seen the movie, you have to read this. Maybe because I have a sister, but this one hit me so hard. Serious tears while reading, but it’s a good one. Jodi Picoult always strikes a great balance between morality and legality. (The Pact is so good too.)

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The Devil in the White City, yes! I had to read that for my APUSH reading this past year, but I finished it in 2 days because I couldn't put it down!


Girl In Beta

Rules of Civility is my favorite. I recommend it to everyone as well. Especially people who are in their 20s. It's a great book for a third-life crisis.

Rachel C

Such a great list! I just downloaded Boys in the Boat on my Kindle, and Devil in the White City and Help are two of my favorites. Plus, Caroline Cooney was one of my all time favorite authors in middle school! I practically had the Face on the Milk Carton series memorized.

Also, amen about how evil the AR program is. I've always loved to read, but AR was awful because of the pressure to get enough points. To this day I HATE Huckleberry Finn because it was the only book with enough points for me to hit my goal in 6th grade and then I failed the test!

Also, since you are sharing, I wanted to throw out a few of my favorites that I reread every few years —
Reading Lolita in Tehran
Snow Falling on Cedars
The Time Traveler's Wife
The All True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton.

Gigi @ Dolce and Gabriella

I loved reading when I was younger, but fell out of the habit in high school because I had so much work to do. In college, I started dating a guy who loves reading and happily, he re-introduced me to it. Now I love reading a chapter of a good book before bed. I'd suggest The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen as another guilty pleasure YA read, or Nick Hornby's books for some really funny adult fiction.

Love, Gigi
Dolce and Gabriella

Playground Prepster

I love reading – I was an English major and can devour a book! I really enjoyed The Help (although I haven't seen the movie). I read Firefly Lane while preggo and honestly wished I had never picked it up. I also think I'm the only person I know who isn't a Jodi picoult fan. The book club I was in when I read My Sister's Keeper loved it! I recently read The Kitchen House and enjoyed it – you may like it too!

Audrey Lin

I've read Firefly Lane, loved it, and have been meaning to read My Sister's Keeper for quite some time now, but never got around to it. Maybe this post is the push I need! Right now I'm reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, which I saw you (and many other bloggers I follow) have already read. I'm 100 pages in and am enjoying it; I particularly love Tartt's writing style. My favorite book of all time would have to be Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, which I read back in fourth grade, but it's one of those books you can go back to at any point later in life and still enjoy just as much as when you first read it. – Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

Freckles Olives

I've also recently read paper towns as well as the glass castle which are both lovely and polar opposites. While the glass castle is a sad and emotional story of a family (it's actually nonfiction) while paper towns is a fun story of the adventures of a few high school seniors trying to find a friend who went missing. Both made me think (and i actually read paper towns twice)
happy reading!

Sydney L.

I've always loved reading, but I think my first college literature helped me realize just how much I love words! Now I'm minoring in English!

I've already read some, but can't wait to check out the rest of these!
I'm currently reading I Am Malala and it's amazing!


kelli richard

Carly! You MUST read "The Storyteller" by Jodi Picoult. I'm pretty sure it's her most recent one. I'm only halfway through it, and I'm dying. It is easily the only book that has brought me to actual tears (except maybe the end of Deathly Hallows, jeez JK)! I get very tied up in others' emotions but not to the point where I cry along with them usually, but this time, her words have swept me away. Oh Jodi, whatever would we do without you??


I loved Caroline B Cooney's books too! They were the best I had AR reading and I couldn't stand the biographies that I had to read. I now that I'm a senior love to read and love medical books, comedy, and romance. I love Chelsea Handlers books they are hysterical if you have thick skin they are amazing! I love the dumb romancey books because they are a quick pager, also Sarah Dessen books are great- fast and good!


those seem some great books, thanks for recommending them! i've always loved reading, but due to mandatory readings for university, i kinda pushed reading for my own pleasure to the side. but i love losing myself in these great stories, so i've been trying to pick it up again. right now, i'm reading the interestings by meg wolitzer and so far it's pretty good 🙂
xo, cheyenne


The Help is definitely one of my favorite books, I couldn't put it down. And LA Candy is definitely a guilty pleasure. I'll have to add the rest to my reading to-do list.
Another great book to check out is Lunch in Paris. It's a memoir of a woman who falls in love in Paris and it's really sweet but real.

– Kelsey


I know! There were a few series I was going to include (Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Divergent) but wanted it to be a list that people probably haven't heard/read!

Mana Smith

I mostly read thrillers, but The Help is probably still one of my top 10 books. I definitely need to give it a reread here soon,and then watch the movie again too. Books have always been my escape. I was lucky enough to be able to read above my grade level, so when everyone else was still on I can read books I was falling in love with Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley High and Goosebumps. By the time we had required reading in class, I'd already read most of them so it wasn't a big deal to me. So I'm so glad that you fell in love with reading.

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Stacey Peery

Didn't know if you would want to share or not but "The Boys in the Boat" is $2.99 for kindle readers on Amazon. I thought it was an awesome deal!


Thanks for the recommendations! I added a few to my reading list already. I love that you shared books that aren't as well known too. Have you ever read anything by Rainbow Rowell? She's a great YA writer, if you need more guilty pleasure! "Fangirl" is my favorite, but "Eleanor and Park" is great too!

oregon girl

Looking at this list, I realized that two of my favorite books, Rules of Civility and The Age of Miracles, came from your recommendations! I COMPLETELY agree on how The Age of Miracles made me feel and how it just stuck with me. It was so realistic that I honestly struggled getting back into the real world every time I stopped reading it. Thanks for the recommendations!

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