18 Go-To Book Recommendations for Adults

book recommendations 1Are you looking for a new book for yourself?! I always am! I love to read. Here are some of my go-to recommendations if I get chatting about books. The links will take you to goodreads.

  1. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

    • This book is one of my absolute favorites, and it shocks me that more people haven’t read it! I recommended this to a friend of mine who did not like to read in high school, and she devoured it. It has elements of haunted houses and ghosts. It is a riveting mystery with suspense. It is sort of a book within a book; a biographer is writing about a famous author, Vida Winter, who is really the main character. The reason for the title is that Vida Winter has written 12 tales in the past, none of them true. Her 13th tale is the tale that is her true life story which she begins by saying that Vida Winter is not her real name. Diane Setterfield has a new book out, too, Once Upon a River.
  2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

    • This book is hard to classify in a genre. It has elements of magic, so it’s fantastical. It has some romance. It is one of those books that connects the lives of multiple people, so you start to see this interconnected, complex web come together. It is mysterious and engrossing. Read the first page, and if you’re not hooked, I’m shocked! Erin Morgenstern has a new book out, too, The Starless Sea.
  3. 11/22/63 by Stephen King

    • I would probably never have picked up a Stephen King book had someone not recommended this to me. I read it (over 1000 pages) in a week-ish, and by the end, I somehow still wanted more. This is how a time travel book should be done – with complexity. The main character goes back in time to the 50s and attempts to change history and prevent the assassination of JFK (thus the title 11/22/63). If you are not into that aspect of history, neither am I! This story is centered on themes of love, destiny, loneliness, sacrifice. It’s a beautiful story with a perfect balance of intense action and descriptive imagery. 
  4. Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle

    • If you need a good laugh and a good cry, read this book. Gregory Boyle shares the stories of decades of working in gang ministry. As a teacher, it was heart wrenching to hear some of these stories – knowing the path that led them there and the hopelessness of not getting an education. It also was incredibly heartwarming. Even amidst the deaths he recounts, there are some truly beautiful passages in this book that give hope. I had not been this enamored with a book in a long time.
  5. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

    • If you haven’t read any Agatha Christie, what are you waiting for?! The only person who’s sold more books than her is Shakespeare, and she did it alive! I love the Miss Marple stories most of all, but this short mystery will keep you guessing. Christie is a genius.
  6. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

    • Mindy is hilarious. I enjoy memoirs, and these essays will have you laughing out loud – that sounds like a false claim, but it’s not. From her dislike of the outdoors leading to a swimming pool accident and her confession that making out with strangers for film is the best, she is able to share in a way that immediately makes you feel like you’re her best friend.
  7. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

    • When I first read this book (in a Crime Fiction class in college), I thought, “How is this not widely known?” This book is known for being one of the first detective fiction books (can you tell I like mysteries?) and is also one of – if not the – first book to use multiple narrators. The idea of an unreliable narrator comes through in this; you essentially can trust no one. You learn different pieces of the puzzle over time. If you’re looking for a classic that’s not Charles Dickens or Jane Austen, give this a try. It’s fantastic. His book, The Moonstone, is also great.
  8. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

    • You’ve probably seen the movie, which is awesome, but the book is better. I mean, I’ll always tell you the book is better. This book is so meaningful in bringing to light what life was like for people who, to me, feel pretty far removed from my reality. I am not going to say that I know what it was like to be an African American maid in the 1960s now that I’ve read this book, but it touched my heart, and I legitimately think this book can make you a better, kinder person.
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  9. Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

    • If you’re looking for a nonfiction book that will thrill you and make you want to know everything, this is a great read. I did not read many nonfiction books, including memoirs, until 3, maybe 5, years ago. This book follows the story of Theranos founder and CEO, Elizabeth Holmes. Theranos was created to solve the medical problems of the world and be able to test for hundreds of diseases with a single drop of blood. The subtitle “Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup” says enough. There’s a reason the podcast “The Dropout” and a Netflix series followed this book.
  10. Quiet by Susan Cain

    • I am a hard core introvert, as in when I take personality tests, I’m 80-90% on the introvert side. If you’re an introvert, this book will make you feel understood and empowered. If you’re an extrovert, you should read this to understand how the other 30-50% of people feel, especially if someone close to you (spouse, child, etc.) is an introvert.
  11. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

    • You might have heard of this book as it’s pretty popular. I think it’s a solid read on how to care for the people around you. This isn’t just a book for romantic relationships; I think it provides insight into how we need to ask for love from others and how we can show love to all the people in our lives.
  12. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

    • I like some historical fiction, but am not a lover of it. I loved this book, though. It follows three women through the second world war. It covers a long period of time but does so with such vivid details that it doesn’t feel like a warp speed book. The writing is beautiful; the characters are fascinating. I am incredibly affected by emotional trauma in books, so I thought some of the graphic details of the holocaust would get to me (and it did) but it was balanced with the other stories. The author treated the time period with genuine compassion. 
  13. My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares

    • You might have read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants or seen the movie(s). The movies don’t do those books justice (see, the book is always better), but my favorite book by Brashares is this one – My Name is Memory. If you’ve ever wanted to be convinced of reincarnation and past lives and star crossed lovers, you’ll love this book. It’s a romance, but the journey of the characters through their lives is pretty cool. I ended reading it with a desire for more.
  14. Moonseed by Stephen Baxter

    • I read this based off of a recommendation from someone who loves science fiction, and I have never been more surprised by how much I liked a book. While the idea is slightly far fetched in the way that many dystopian books feel realistic and also like “no way,” it was such an interesting idea that “moonseed” from the moon would start to destroy planet Earth and we as a world need to figure this out fast. The doomsday qualities do not normally appeal to me (I never read Left Behind) but this was a great read.
  15. Rage Becomes Her by Soraya Chemaly

    • I heard this author on a podcast and thought I would like her book. I was right. I would say that I’m a feminist, but I also don’t like some of the angry rhetoric out there. I am passionate about equality and justice, but I am not going to be the person who leads a charge against things. I’m the person who sees my own actions as the most powerful way to change society, and I really try to model that for my students and examine my own beliefs and judgments on a daily basis, so when I saw the title had “rage” in it, I wasn’t drawn in. Women should read this book to know they’re not crazy and men should read this book to understand women’s points of view. Chemaly addresses so much, and it’s fascinating! I thought the statistics (especially related to medical discrepancies between men and women) would devastate me into depression, but the book surprisingly doesn’t have that effect. There is so much research in this book. If there’s anyone who still thinks we’ve moved on as a society and we’re all equal and anyone who’s upset needs to get over it or people are still exaggerating, read this book – not to make you mad, not to make you feel guilty, not to just quit and give up, but to open your eyes and embrace action for change.
  16. Eat to Beat Disease by Dr. William Li

    • Do you still feel like you don’t know what foods are healthy? Or you know but you can’t quite convince yourself that it matters? This book might convince you. It’s packed with research and lists out the benefits of all different kinds of food and drink. It also tells you how much to eat or drink to get the effects, which I found helpful. His 5x5x5 framework is a good guideline if you like rules and guidelines, but basically, this just tells you what to eat. The beginning is a bit rambling, so skip around to what you want to know.
  17. What School Could Be by Ted Dintersmith

    • Everyone should read this book. Educators should definitely read this, and I think parents and anyone who wants to make informed choices about the politics of school should read this book. It is uplifting in one sense to read about schools and teachers doing it “right,” and it’s also provoking. I can’t speak highly enough about Dintersmith and what he’s trying to do for education in the US. I heard him speak this past year, and I am a fan.
  18. The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman

    • Pullman is better known for the trilogy His Dark Materials (first of which is The Golden Compass which I loved) but I think I love his Sally Lockhart series more. I read the series in middle school based off of my dad’s recommendation; he loved them as an adult. The Ruby in the Smoke is set in Victorian London but moves settings to opium dens and alleyways. The first chapter details how Sally, the main character, causes a death, almost immediately after hearing the news of her own father’s death. This is a mystery and adventure tale with intriguing characters; the plot development is excellent, and the whole series is a winner in my book.

Have your own favorite books that you recommend? Let me know in the comments!


4 thoughts on “18 Go-To Book Recommendations for Adults

Add yours

  1. Interesting suggestions. I just wrote an article about the TBR Tag, where I mentioned ‘The Night Circus’. I own a copy of the book, but haven’t read it yet. If you’re interested, you can read and/or participate in the tag by visiting this link:


    Also, I created a movie awards that are currently going on. If you’re interested, you can vote at this link:


    Liked by 1 person

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