Reading is something I do almost compulsively. There is always a stack of books next to my bed and another on a shelf nearby. I visit my local library biweekly and love the free books I get monthly thanks to Amazon Prime. I’m always on the lookout for a good read. I follow book people of Instagram and Facebook . Check out A Book Lover’s Adventures for a fun blog on books and travel. Books to… is also a fun blog to check out for recommendations.
I also find book recommendations on Goodreads and on my local library website. I use Goodreads to keep track of the books I read and want to read. This website also has a challenge feature, and I set a goal every year to read a minimum of 50 books. This year, I met my goal in early August. I have now read 66 books and still have a couple of months left to go. See what I mean by almost compulsively?
In addition to reading, I love to talk about books with other readers and visit bookstores and libraries. Books are really one of my favorite things. Whenever I get into a “books I love” discussion with other readers, I find myself recommending the same favorites again and again. These are my go-to favorites; books I would recommend to just about anyone.
11 Books I Keep Recommending
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1. News of the World by Paulette Jiles
This is one of my more recent favorites. I read it over the summer and absolutely loved it. It is a National Book Award Finalist. Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd is a 70-something Civil War veteran who takes on the task of returning a young, orphan girl who has lived most of her life in Kiowa captivity. They undertake a 400 mile journey filled with struggles, danger, and moments of lightheartedness. The Captain makes his living by travelling to remote settlements in Texas and reading the news of the world to audiences. If you love historical fiction, a good western adventure, or a story about what family really means, try this story. You won’t be disappointed.
2. The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak
Another piece of historical fiction, but with a much different style and setting. This story takes place in world War II Germany. The title character is a young girl named Liesel who is being fostered by a family in a village outside Munich. She has been abandoned by her mother. Her foster father teaches her to read and she begins a love affair with the written word. The story is narrated by Death who starts out telling us we will all die someday and not to be afraid. He then says he’s going to tell us a story about survivors, one survivor in particular. He calls her the Book Thief. Dark? Yes. Moving? Absolutely. You’ll need some tissues with this one.
3. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
Here’s a piece of actual history. This is the story of the 1936 University of Washington men’s crew team and their journey to the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Their’s is a true underdog story. These young men came from working class families. They had to work their way through college while competing at the sport they loved. In order to get the the Olympics, they first had to triumph over much better established and funded Ivy League teams. Then, they had to raise enough funds to get them to Berlin (that part of the story still infuriates me). Finally, they had to compete against the world’s best in Hitler’s Germany. Rumor has it there’s a movie in development. If you love to root for the underdog, try this book.
4. Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Here’s another emotional, but ultimately heartwarming story. The story begins with a burned-out school teacher who is travelling in his RV. He breaks down in a remote town and through a series of events, ends up taking the sons of the local mechanic with him on his summer adventure. The boys and the teacher both have tragedies in their lives. The teacher is travelling to Yellowstone. It is a trip he takes every year with his son, but this time he is travelling with his son’s ashes. The boys are sent on the trip by their father because he has to report to prison and he has nowhere else to put them. What happens are lessons on parenting, love, forgiveness, and what it means to be a family. I have read several other books by the same author and have never been disappointed.
5. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
If you’ve read many of my book posts, you’ve had this one recommended to you before. I recommend it to everyone. This book is one of my top favorites of all time. When I recommend it, I usually hear one of two things. “Oh, I loved that one.” or “I’ve been wanting to read it. Is it really that good?” Yes. It is really that good. I have read several of Backman’s books and “A Man Called Ove” is by far my favorite. It was made into a film in 2016. It’s got subtitles and it’s not as good as the book, but very well done. It was announced in September 2017 that Tom Hanks will be starring in the U.S. made version. Read the book first!!!
6. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
If you’re looking for a fun mystery series, look no further. I have read every one of the books in this series (published so far) and enjoyed them all. “Sweetness” is the first and, probably, my favorite. Flavia de Luce is our heroine, detective, chief mischief maker, and thirteen-year-old youngest sister in an eccentric and aristocratic English family. Bradley creates a great story with wonderful characters.
7. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
This work of juvenile fiction (grades 4-6) has won all sorts of awards lately including the 2017 Newberry Medal. I read it this summer and really liked it. The story takes places deep in a magic forest where the citizens of the Protectorate sacrifice one child per year to the “evil witch” who controls the forest. So long as they give the witch a child annually, they are kept safe. But the witch is not what she seems and neither are the leaders of the Protectorate. If you like fairy tales, try this one.
8. All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Another work of historical fiction, Doerr sets his story in World War II France. The main characters are a blind French girl and a young German soldier. Their stories are interwoven and come together in a spectacular fashion. In spite of all the tragedy, brutality, and destruction of war, this story also describes how people can be kind and humane even in their darkest moments.
9. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Technically, this is a work of juvenile fiction. But it is so much more than that. The story is told from the point of view of Ivan, a gorilla who has been kept captive in a small, road-side zoo nearly his entire life. It is fictional, but inspired by a real gorilla named Ivan who spent 27 years in similar circumstances before be adopted by the Atlanta Zoo. This book won the Newberry Medal in 2013. You may need some tissues to get through it, but it’s so worth it. Disney is currently in pre-production on a film version.
10. Life is So Good by George Dawson and Richard Glaubman
The true story of George Dawson, grandson of an emancipated slave, son of Texas sharecroppers, and an inspiration to anyone who hears his story. I may be biased because I taught reading for 5 years, but I love this story. Mr Dawson never had the chance to attend school as a youth. Then he was busy trying to earn a living and support his family. Finally, at the age of 98, he returned to school and learned to read. His remarkably positive attitude is uplifting and powerful. He faced many of the struggles a poor, illiterate, black man had in the 20th Century, but he kept looking up. “Life is good. I do believe it’s getting better.”
11. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
I really, really like this story. I am so disappointed that the author has not produced another novel. Her website says a sequel to this should be coming next year. Fingers crossed. I’m putting this one on here for readers who love fantasy. This is the story of an unlikely pair that become unlikely friends…the Golem and the Jinni. They meet New York City in around 1900. The Jinni is from the Syrian desert and is a creature of fire. The Golem was created in Eastern Europe and is a creature of clay and earth. The author draws on both Middle Eastern and Yiddish mythology to create this tale of both fantasy and historical fiction.
There you have them. Eleven books I keep recommending, over and over and over. Do you have books you always find yourself recommending? I’m always looking for a book to add to my “to-read” list. Please share in the comment section below.
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