I love recommending books to friends, and I also hate it. It’s so much pressure, you know? I only recommend books that I have rated highly and so, because of that, I have an emotional connection to them. They meant something to me. What happens if a book I recommended isn’t as loved by this person? What if they – gasp! – hate it? Will our friendship even survive? (Answer: probably not.)
In any event, I do recommend books because friends come to me asking for them, knowing I am a voracious reader. They want me to give them titles for the beach, a long car ride, a vacation. They’re looking for something that will suck them in and keep them hooked.
And so, I thought it might be fun to make a list of the 5 fiction novels I recommend most frequently. In a follow-up post, I’ll talk about the nonfiction I recommend.
1) Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
This is my all-time favorite novel, mostly because it was a book that I didn’t expect to love as much as I did. It’s a heartbreaking read, but it’s also incredibly hopeful and fun. It’s the kind of read that you can bring on vacation due to its light-hearted nature, even if it does take a turn for sadness. It’s always my first recommendation.
Best for… people who are looking for a heartfelt novel that isn’t too fluffy but also isn’t too serious.
2) A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
This book shattered me, but it also made me hopeful and grateful. It forced me to face the privileges I enjoy as a white woman living in the United States. Its message is powerful and will sit with you for a long, long time. The novel is beautifully written and wonderfully paced. And the characters. Laila and Mariam are complex, courageous, enduring characters. I felt grateful to Hosseini for writing this, for bringing these characters into my orbit.
Best for… people who want to read a compelling novel that will impact them and make them think.
3) The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
This book is just plain fun in all sorts of ways. It’s essentially fan fiction about Prince William and Duchess Kate, how they met and how their love story evolved. But don’t let the term “fan fiction” deter you because it is so wonderful and fun to read. I continue to recommend it to friends because I’ve yet to see someone straight-up despise the novel.
Best for… people looking for a light but engaging vacation read.
4) The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
This novel is just perfection. It’s not very plot-heavy – much more of a character-driven novel – but there’s something so lovely and beautiful about the pacing of this novel. It made me love the experience of reading and that’s all you really want from a novel, right?
Best for… book lovers who are looking to connect with their bookish side. And also for people who want a slow yet compelling read that isn’t too heavy.
5) In the Blood by Lisa Unger
This is a mystery novel that’s creepy and full of twists and turns. I’m normally pretty decent at guessing the mystery element, but this one took me completely by surprise and was so fantastically written that I constantly recommend it to friends. (Also, Lisa Unger is apparently a local author who lives in my area! Who knew?! My book club is obsessed with her novels!)
Best for… people wanting a thrilling mystery that will suck them right in and keep them guessing until the very last page.
What’s a book you find yourself recommending over and over again?