My Friends’ Favorite Books

I have been having quite a hard time reading. Ironically I thought when the self-quarantining began that I would be able to blow through books at an unprecedented rate. I didn’t factor in my anxiety and lack of attention span during a pandemic because, well, I’ve never been here before. I found myself completely uninterested in my audiobook (which I should have just given up on) and re-reading the same page of book thinking to myself, “Wait, what did I just read?”

With that said, I feel my most “normal” and most relaxed while working out and while reading (when I get into a good groove). I think it’s 80% because I’m just away from my phone and can disappear into another world (reading) or be distracted by physical discomfort (working out).

Anyway! I thought I’d poll my friends for their favorite reads!!! This is, I’ve realized, not the time to slog through books you don’t love. We need good escapes that really transport us.



“OBVIOUSLY this is the time for The Idea of You. Possibly the best and most addictive smutty romance I’ve ever read. And will also leave you in a weird google hole about Harry Styles, which could be another new quarantine hobby. It’s been a year since I’ve read it and I’m still not over it.”


“The story of a fictional 1970s rock band that broke up mysteriously just after they hit it big, told as an oral history from each of the band members. I absolutely devoured the audiobook version, which features familiar voices like Judy Greer and Benjamin Bratt and makes each character come alive in a way that had me double checking they were in fact fictional.”


“Why? So many of our decisions as a consumer are made because of our emotional connection with a product or brand. That connection is heightened by a thoughtful use of brand aesthetics that are far more important than we realize. If you are a business owner or want to be, or just a curious consumer, I highly recommend this book to understand why sales aren’t the most important thing to focus on.”


“My top choice would be Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. It’s the most beautiful and nuanced book I’ve read; Miller transforms Greek mythology into a modern love story that feels real and relevant. If you want to get utterly lost in a romantic, historical novel, this is it!”


“I’ve been diving into cookbooks during this time. One I’ve been reaching for the most is The Kinfolk Table. It’s an excellent cookbook. A lot of the dishes are meant for 1-2 people which is nice so that you aren’t wasting food if you aren’t into left overs. The book also does a great job of reminding you how simple cooking actually is. The dishes are healthy and light and you won’t feel bad if you indulge a little!”


For self reflection, (I hate the term self help but this is a very reflective book so feel free to tweak as you deem appropriate) I’d highly recommend Boundaries by Anne Katherine, M.A.  It discusses the importance of establishing healthy boundaries and how essential it is to create and maintain mental, physical and spiritual health. During these times of uncertainty (and close quarters with others) – boundaries for yourself are ESSENTIAL. Couldn’t recommend this one enough- it’s completely changed the way I interact with family, relationships and even social media.
For fun, I LOVE getting caught up in a juicy story from Liane Moriarty, I really enjoy her writing style. My favorite one is The Husband’s Secret – SUCH a page turner. It sends through you through an emotional roller coaster (in the best way) – I couldn’t put this book down!


The Flatshare is a delightful read that left me smiling nearly every page. A quirky female lead you’ll love and an uplifting story that will remind you that love can find you in the most unexpected of ways. And that we all deserve more than just settling.”


“I love the delicate and engrossing complexities Ng creates between, and within, two very different families who unexpectedly enter each others’ lives in a seemingly idyllic suburb. The relationships are challenged by secrets, motherhood and societal structure, leaving you feeling equally empathetic as you are hooked. I have found myself curling up on the sofa with this read more than once! Plus, once you finish, you have a built-in second quarantine activity, and can watch Reese Witherspoon’s new production of the book on Hulu!”


“If you are looking for a book that will have you totally escaping from reality, laughing out loud, and rooting for love, The Royal We is for you! You’ll fall in love with the characters as you dive even further down the royal rabbit hole, and find yourself unable to put it down! Plus, you’ll have something to look forward too when book two, The Heir Affair drops this summer!”



“This memoir was the most powerful book I’ve read in years. As a reader, you’ll witness Chanel’s lowest lows and the brief triumph she feels after each small victory during her fight against the man who assaulted her in court. But despite her assault and the trial that uprooted her life in every possible way, she spoke up with her very eloquent voice. She reminds every woman reading her story that we have a voice. That our voice can be powerful. And that living in fear does not have to be the social norm.”


“These two (Sarah + Greer) brought you The Wife Between Us and An Anonymous Girl which are two favorite thrillers of mine.. It’s a fast paced thriller surrounding a group of women in New York. Sisters Cassandra and Jane Moore seemingly live the perfect, glamorous life – running their own PR firm with a close knit circle of friends. Meanwhile, lonely Shay is losing her job AND her apartment, is painfully single, and has very few friends. When the Moore sisters take Shay under their wing it feels like things are finally turning around for her – but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This is fast paced and fun (the perfect distraction right now) and I liked that I hadn’t seen this angle done before… most thrillers center around romantic relationships and crazy wives or abusive husbands. It was fun to read one that was all about (very dysfunctional) female friendships instead.”


“This is one of the most fascinating book I have ever read in my life. I have always been very interested in sleep since I basically turn into a monster if I don’t get a good night’s rest. Walker, a neuroscientist specializing in sleep, says, ‘Sleep is your superpower. It is Mother Nature’s best effort yet at immortality.’ Get ready to have your mind blown but all the startling data you will come across in this book, revealing the importance of optimal sleep to maintain a long, happy & healthy life. A must read!”


“It’s the ultimate juicy beach read, which is exactly what we all need right now. It’s the perfect mix of old Hollywood glamour, romance, and scandal. Rumor has it it’s being adapted for the small screen, too!”


“An honest and haunting book that follows the lives of two young boys in a Chicago public housing complex. It is piece of non-fiction journalism filled with compassion and heart – beautiful storytelling. This book has followed me for years. When I read I am looking for books that help me to become a better member of the global community and help me to understand situations, cultures, and people that I may not interact with on a daily basis. The book is a very emotional read with moments of so much unfairness and hurt. It will leave you feeling so frustrated for the little boys, but for all the bad, there are still moments of hope.”


“I love reading Summer Sisters by Judy Blume once a year. I love a good book that can completely take you somewhere else. This one is an impossible to put down coming of age story that focuses on two friends from very different backgrounds. I love that it takes place on Martha’s Vineyard. Hulu is currently developing a series for it and I couldn’t be more excited.”


What is the What tells the powerful true story of Valentino Achak Deng through the voice of Dave Eggers, my favorite memoirist (and also the author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and the founder of McSweeney’s). Valentino is a seven-year-old child who, after having lost his family, flees his invaded village during the Second Sudanese Civil War. With thousands of other orphaned or displaced children–later named “The Lost Boys”–he sets out on a long, dangerous journey in search of freedom. Beautifully written and tastefully infused with humor, What is the What has stayed with me for many, many years. I initially read it during a tough time in my life, and it put so much in perspective when I needed it most!”

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Great post! I love to know what others are reading even when we have vastly different reading interests. I have to say “Royal We” and “Eligible” were two of my favorite books as of the past couple of years. “The Hating Game” is also another good one!

Christina Castiglione

This was a great post idea! I’ve pretty much run out of book recommendations from all of your lists so it’s fun to see what others recommend!


Excellent post! Loved reading what other bloggers (and your friends!) are into it!


Ahhh!! Carly!! This is such a fantastic blog post! Thank you for having the idea. I love the broad spectrum of options and analyses.


What a fabulous blog post! Just added a handful of these titles to my “Want to Read” list on Goodreads. I just finished reading “Educated” by Tara Westover and am ready for my next read!


Song of Achilles is so so so so good!! I’ve been recommending it to everyone. Best love story I’ve read in a while!


Thank you so much for this, all of these recommendations are amazing! I feel the same way about reading right now, kind of in a blah mentality but also looking for the next best read. This made me put an order in at my local bookstore!


I read “There are No Children Here” for a class in university. I loved the story and writing so much I told my mom and boyfriend to read it too! I like how it is written from the perspective of the journalist observing the characters lives. Also fascinating to read about the actual brothers and how the events of the book are true.



I love this compilation! The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is next on my list and definitely going to look into You Are Not Alone.


Love this post! Such great ideas for new reads and I so agree with many of the recommendations! The Flatshare, Daisy Jones and the Six, and The Gifted School have been some of my recent favs!


Carly, I LOVE this post!! Thank you!! I follow so many of these great women, so what a treat to see what books they recommend. And just love to see “What is the What” from Kelly – a book that has followed me since I read it, too. I think I’ll pull it off the shelf and read it again with this extra time at home and dive into many of these other recs, too!

amanda vogel

Great post! I have been looking for books to get me off my phone. I plowed through Verity and now I am in a slump.


Thank you for posting, I feel the same way. I am having a hard time getting into a book, I try to pick a lighter book to get my mind off things but when start reading find their frivolous complaints hard to read about with all the things going on right now. I then move to books about heavier topics and get even more anxious.


I, too, have been having difficulty sitting down and reading since being quarantined. When I do, it’s the nicest, most amazing thing, but I never really feel like it. It’s so much better than being on a screen–and I feel I am doing too much of that with online school (I’m in seventh grade).

I also love that you asked your friends their opinions and that each answer was so different!


YES, this is the post we needed right now! Thanks for coordinating, Carly (and everyone else for your recs).


Love all of Liane Moriarty books. I’ve read them all! Such a fun escape.

Great post, you’re killing it.


Carly, I agree that reading right now is difficult. Oddly, at the same time, I need to see new visual content (Cheer! Love is Blind, etc.), not the old comforting standbys (Friends, old movies).

But here’s a hack I’m employing big time right now for audiobooks. I hope you don’t think I’m cheating the system; I’ve done this for a while now. It takes me about 2 weeks to get through an audiobook with my daily commute (have you noticed they are just about all 10 hours?!). But occasionally they are a lot longer (looking at you Ken Follet), so I have an old iPhone that I have dedicated to just audiobooks. I delete everything on it, and when I download a new book from my library I switch it airplane mode, manually change the date to a few months earlier, and that’s it. The book now will not expire as quickly now. If you have an ingenious? devious? mind like me, you can extrapolate this a lot further. Suffice it to say, in these unprecedented times of free audiobooks, my old iPhone is on lockdown full of books when life gets back to norman, and I have a daily commute.


Love this post Carly! Will definitely need to check out “Summer Sisters” and I have been looking into reading “Aesthetic Intelligence”, I’ve been wanting to read more business-like books!


Such a great post! I love the variety of book recommendations and learning what each person liked about them.


LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS! Thank you so much for sharing, such a great idea. We all need distractions right now!


I love the idea of this and the format! Their photo next to their favorite book! Im the opposite. I am devouring books on my tbr list so i need more book recommendations! It all started when i gave up insta for lent then social distancing happened. Im an essential worker though (RN) so no wfh for me (be safe everyone!) but i do miss brunch and happy hour and your daily insta stories like i miss a friend! Cant wait for all this to be over and for easter! 😂

Lorraine Barnes

Thank you for sharing your difficulties concentrating right now. I have felt like I am in limbo on a daily basis waiting for something – but I don’t know what I’m waiting on! It feels irrational and it is nice to hear someone else feeling the same. Take care and be safe!

Lisa Mari

Like Meghan I really enjoyed “The Flatshare”! Read it in a couple of days last week. Perfect escape from the current situation!
And thanks for the inspiration for some other books!


Thank you! I am always looking for books in English to read (I’m French)! Many of the books mentioned in the post are going to be added on my list!

Katherine Hancock

I read What is the What in college and got to meet Valentino! I learned to drive in the parking lot of the Atlanta mall he mentions in his story. Such a powerful book! This is such a fun post, Carly!


Thanks for sharing! Loved Little Fires Everywhere and just started the series on Hulu. Also devoured Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and My Husbands secret.
Going to grab a few of these from my local bookstore via!!