15 Books Our Readers (and Editors) Can’t Stop Raving About
We asked our readers for the stories they turn to again and again. Here are their go-to book recommendations.
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Book recommendations from avid readers
Pick up any good books lately? Offering reading recommendations is one of our favorite things to do, whether we’re sharing the season’s best fiction books or a beloved classic book we revisit year after year. By sharing our favorite reads, we give other bookworms a chance to experience a beautiful piece of art. Book recommendations can also help people at different stages in their lives, whether they need support or just a feel-good story that’ll infuse them with joy.
In the spirit of sharing, we turned to our trusty readers, asking them via Instagram for the book they recommend over all others. And they answered big time! They offered classics, new releases, self-help, historical fiction, magical realism and some of the best books ever written.
Here are 12 reader picks worth adding to your to-be-read list. And because we’re bona fide book nerds, we’ve added some editor book recommendations too. Read on, and enjoy!
1. The Shack by William P. Young
The Canadian author of The Shack, which revolves around a father struggling with tragedy, initially wrote the book for his six children to try to explain the mysteries of God. After receiving several rejections from publishers, he self-published the novel in 2007. The following year, it became a bestseller and was eventually made into a movie starring Octavia Spencer.
2. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy
“‘What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said?’ asked the boy. ‘Help,’ said the horse.” This is just one of many unforgettable lines in this sweet and sage 2019 illustrated book about four unexpected friends. The simple but profound lessons of love, kindness, bravery and friendship are perfect for any age and a mainstay on the list of best book recommendations.
3. Experiencing Grief by H. Norman Wright
“This is a lovely little book for someone going through the difficult journey of grief. Also would be excellent for anyone who would want to be a source of comfort to a grieving friend,” reads just one of the nearly 700 five-star Amazon reviews of this short book on grief, which was published in 2004. Penned by a family therapist and Christian educator, Experiencing Grief is a worthy choice for tough times.
4. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
This French novella, published in 1943, is one of the bestselling books of all time. One part touching children’s book, one part wise reminder for adults, the story is a triumph. “It’s called a timeless classic for a reason,” writes Reader’s Digest reader @The.Time.Traveler, who says it’s her go-to book recommendation. The plot centers on a pilot who crashes in the desert and meets the Little Prince, who comes from a far-off asteroid planet. It’s through the Little Prince’s explorations and encounters that adult readers are reminded of the childlike virtues of curiosity and kindness, and the beautiful lesson woven into Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s story: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
5. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
It’s the 25th anniversary of the 1997 classic memoir penned by Mitch Albom. The author spent several Tuesdays visiting his favorite college professor, Morrie Schwartz, who was battling Lou Gehrig’s disease and offered Albom, and us, lessons on life. According to NPR, Tuesdays with Morrie has sold nearly 18 million copies globally and has been translated into 48 languages. It’s one of the bestselling memoirs in the history of publishing and remains a touching read for book lovers of all ages.
6. Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang
The Chinese words for America translate to “beautiful country,” and in her 2021 debut memoir, Qian Julie Wang writes poignantly about her childhood moving from China to New York City. The story follows Wang’s new life as an immigrant in this beautiful country that, for so many, is filled with poverty, heartbreak and redemption. Don’t miss these other books by Asian and Pacific Islander authors everyone should read.
7. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
From the father of magical realism comes an incomparable novel that Oprah Winfrey called “one of the greatest love stories I have ever read.” Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez centers his 1985 tome on a decades-long love story between Florentino Ariza and the wealthy Fermina Daza, who finally reunite in old age. Beautifully written, critically acclaimed Love in the Time of Cholera raises many questions about love, life and aging.
8. The Alchemist by Paul Coehlo
This 1988 classic by Brazilian author Paul Coehlo initially had trouble getting published. But after Madonna shared her love for The Alchemist on The Oprah Winfrey Show, attention turned to this hero’s journey of a young shepherd looking for love, life purpose and eventually home. The thin book is packed with unforgettable lines—”And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it,” Coehlo writes—and a message that has turned it into a modern classic, with reportedly more than 150 million copies sold. When you’re finished, pick up one of these fantasy books, which will transport you to new worlds.
9. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
In this 1997 biblical-inspired work of fiction, women take the reins as storytellers and main characters. The book opens with Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob, who says that she must tell her and her mother’s story lest they be forgotten. The Red Tent (and the Lifetime miniseries that followed) centers on the women, their lives and their monthly gatherings in the red tent. This powerful book for women is one of the top book recommendations for Reader’s Digest readers who appreciate deep dives into history and timeless tales.
10. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
Published 50 years ago, Bless Me, Ultima is the bestselling Chicano novel of all time. Written by Rudolfo Anaya, the book follows 6-year-old Tony Marez and his life in New Mexico as his family takes in a local curandera (healer) named Ultima. She teaches Tony about life, healing, nature and an integral part of his Latino history that he never learned about in school. When you flip the last page, check out these other must-read books by Latinx authors.
11. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
This 2015 novel from Kristin Hannah follows two sisters who struggle to survive in war-torn, occupied France in World War II. An instant New York Times bestseller, The Nightingale is reportedly getting a film adaptation starring Dakota and Elle Fanning. (So read it now before the movie comes out!) With reviewers calling the novel “heart-pounding” and “a page-turner,” we’re not surprised it made the list of our readers’ go-to book recommendations.
12. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Exit West follows young lovers Saeed and Nadia as they travel through a door that whisks them away to another country. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2017, the book has touches of magical realism and visits themes of love and displacement that continue to be important and relevant today.
13. Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
This collection of essays from Indigenous mother and scientist Robin Wall Kimmerer is an instant classic. In her magnificent book, Kimmerer weaves Indigenous storytelling with her own journey as a mother and botanist. Her prose sings of a love for the natural world and reminds us of the power of reciprocity and respect for the earth, its plants and the animals who share it with us.
14. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The story of Celie and her sister, Nettie, is a profound and painful one that has become an essential part of American literature (though it often finds itself on banned books lists). Alice Walker won the Pulitzer Prize for this 1982 novel, set in the rural South and centered on the lives of Celie, Nettie and the sisterhood that sustains them. Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of The Color Purple was also a hit. Both Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey garnered Oscar nominations for their portrayals. Beautifully written and deeply moving, it’s one of our top book recommendations for pretty much any reader. When you’re done, check out these other fantastic books by Black authors.
15. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
In this 1997 classic from Don Miguel Ruiz, the former doctor turned spiritual guide shares four simple yet profound lessons from Toltec wisdom that will change your life. A testament to its universal appeal, The Four Agreements spent a decade on the New York Times bestseller list. As life gets more and more complicated, you’ll turn back again and again to the insights in this tiny tome.
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