Book Recs

The importance of recommending books cannot be overstated. It introduces readers to new writers and vice versa, maybe even opens up new genres, and spurs the sales and interest necessary for keeping this whole writing-and-reading thing going ’round. So, in that spirit, I’ve decided to keep a Recommendations page on my site. Of course, I cannot recommend anything I haven’t read, so I look forward to this being an ever-evolving page! I will do my best to make it as comprehensive as possible, and of course I’d love to get recommendations in the comments!

*I’ve added some little annotations I thought might helpful either when choosing what to read, looking for a book on a certain subject, seeking specific writing inspiration, and/or for trigger warning purposes. It does not mean I am reducing any of these books to the one or two notes included. Also, I use “historical” to mean anything before 1980. I’m sorry if that makes anyone feel as old as it does me.

**All books are realistic fiction except where noted otherwise, because that’s pretty much all I read.

Contemporary YA (listed approximately from light to dark)

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway (not really a band book but great for lovers of them)

Lovestruck Summer by Melissa C. Walker (ditto – in fact, if you liked Audrey, Wait! I highly recommend picking this one up)

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (romance set in Paris)
When you’re done, read this hilarious review on “Real Men Read YA”

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

The Ruby Oliver series by E. Lockhart (panic attacks; therapy)

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour

17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (dual-POV)

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr (dual 1st-person POV)

The Pursuit of Happiness by Tara Altebrando (dead mother)

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (dead sister; integrated poetry; this is one of my highest recommendations if you’re not sure where to start)

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini (depression)

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (cancer, made me cry my face off)

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols (edgier romance)

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (the first 100 pages will not make sense to you the first time you read it, which is absolutely fine and not necessary for ultimately loving the book, so power through!)

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta (depression)
When you’re done, read this lovely tribute to the central romance by Teen Lit Rocks

OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – probably the most mentally taxing book on this list, in a fascinating way)

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (Native Americans; bullying)

Hold Still by Nina LaCour (best friend’s suicide)

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (technically I suppose it’s Paranormal, but in the same way Groundhog Day is Fantasy, so….)

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by AS King (dead best friend; integrated variety of 1st-person POVs into a single running one)

Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers (panic attacks)
When you’re done, check out this post by Courtney Summers on what it was like to write Parker Fadley of the above title and Regina Afton of the below.

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers (sexual assault; bullying)

Dangerous Girls and Dangerous Boys, both by Abigail Haas (unrelated standalones)

Pointe by Brandy Colbert

Hate List by Jennifer Brown (school shooting)

Leftovers by Laura Wiess (rape culture and sexual assault; partial 2nd-person; contains my favorite final line of any book)
I wrote a post for YA Contemporary about why this is a Hidden Gem of the genre, which you can check out here.

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott (You will not put this down while reading it, but you will also never touch it again after finishing. If you are triggered by anything at all, do not touch this book.)

Contemporary NA

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller (Actually YA, but I put it here because the MC is 19 and I think it fits NA themes really nicely; male POV)

Second Position by Katherine Locke (eating disorder, amputation)

The Secret Society Girl series by Diana Peterfreund (Was originally sold as Adult but falls squarely into what’s now NA)

One & Only by Viv Daniels

Unteachable by Leah Raeder (Teacher-student relationship; literary)

Spiral by Mila Ferrera (bipolar disorder)

Deeper by Robin York (revenge porn)

Contemporary Adult

State of Wonder  by Ann Patchett

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (warning: the epilogue ruins the entire book, but it’s otherwise marvelous)

Empire Falls by Richard Russo (Not for those who can’t tolerate slow reads/skim!)

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper (Mourning; Jewish)

Room by Emma Donoghue (Abduction)

What is the What? by Dave Eggers (Child soldiers)

Later, At the Bar by Rebecca Barry (my favorite source of inspiration for character sketches; alcoholism)

Alternating Contemporary and Historical

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (adult)

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (adult)

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneiger (adult)

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff (adult)

The Taker by Alma Katsu (adult, alternating paranormal and historical)

Falling in Love with English Boys by Melissa Jensen (YA)

Adult Historical Fiction (ordered from earliest to most recent)

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman (1st century Palestine AD; Jewish)

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (16th century England)

Shogun by James Clavell (16th-17th century Japan)

The Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks (17th century England)

March by Geraldine Brooks (Civil War-era US. Please note you do not need to be a Little Women fan to enjoy.)

Moloka’i by Alan Brennert (19th century Hawaii)

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie (1960s century Nigeria)

Adult Mystery/Suspense series

The Spellmans by Lisa Lutz (Hifreakinglarious)

The Dublin Murder Squad by Tana French (The books are far more loosely tied to each other than expected, so reading them in order is not of the utmost importance. #2 is basically The Secret History by Donna Tartt, if that’s your thing. Also, if you read Gone Girl and thought “Now what, other than Gillian Flynn’s other novels?” this is the answer.)

Jesse Stone by Robert B. Parker (though I can’t really complain about any of his series!)

Romance and Women’s Fiction (listed from least to most explicit sexual content)

The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank

How I Learned to Love the Walrus by Beth Orsoff (self-published)

The Casa Dracula series by Marta Acosta (comedic paranormal romance)

Mr. Maybe by Jane Green

Under His Skin by Sidney Bristol (erotic romance)

More than Words and Game Plan by Karla Doyle (erotic romance)

Adult LGBT

Dust by Ann McMan (the only one of hers I’ve read so far, though JERICHO is supposed to be her best; f/f)

Junction X by Erastes (m/m)

First Impressions and the CalPac Crew series by (my dear friend!) Christopher Koehler (m/m)

Dark Horse series by Kate Sherwood (m/m/m)


1 thought on “Book Recs”

  1. Now my TBR list is way longer! Thanks!

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