Believe it or not, sometimes our very own staff has trouble resisting the book recommendations Off the Shelf has to offer. Thankfully, we’ve got a great feature to keep track of our ever-growing TBR. The “Your Shelf” feature allows you (and us) to create reading lists from the books you find on OfftheShelf.com.
To start building “Your Shelf,” simply sign up for an Off the Shelf account. Then, when you see a book you want to add to your reading list, click “Add to Your Shelf” below the book cover, and we’ll save your favorites for you.
Here’s a peek at our most recently shelved books.
An intimate and heartrending true account of Russia’s 20 tsars and tsarinas as they turned a war-ruined principality into one of the greatest empires, only to lose it all, THE ROMANOVS’ cast of characters includes Ivan the Terrible, Tolstoy, Pushkin, Bismarck, Lincoln, Queen Victoria, and Lenin. Simon Sebag Montefiore’s dazzling epic reveals their secret world of unlimited power and ruthless empire-building, overshadowed by palace conspiracy, family rivalries, sexual decadence, and wild extravagance.
I happen to love dogs and artistically pleasing covers, so safe to say, LILY AND THE OCTOPUS caught my eye. Now add the promise of some magical realism and illuminating, emotional prose and this one just got bumped up on my to-read list. —Nikki
Ted and his elderly dachshund are at the center of this story of steadfast companionship, loss, and longing that will break your heart and put it back together again. The two share a comfortable life spent chatting about boys, playing board games, and ordering pizza just so Lily can bark at the delivery boy. But then the Octopus arrives and their simple little world begins to change. By turns hilarious and poignant, LILY AND THE OCTOPUS is a book you’ll never stop talking (and crying) about.
Against a vividly imagined future, ON SUCH A FULL SEA tells the stunning and surprising story of a long-declining American society strictly stratified by class. Using a deeply ethereal voice, Chang-Rae Lee tells the story of Fan, a fish-tank diver, who leaves her home in the B-Mor settlement (once known as Baltimore) when the man she loves mysteriously disappears.
Inspired by Nigeria’s folktales as well as its war, UNDER THE UDALA TREES is a powerful novel about a girl who is sent away to safety and falls in love with another displaced girl. Neither of their ethnic communities accepts their love and they are forced to learn the price of living a lie.
I added ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AN ORDINARY LIFE to my shelf as soon as I read the incredibly selling Off the Shelf review. In her 2005 memoir, Amy Krouse Rosenthal alphabetizes her thoughts and experiences to tell the story of her ordinary life, including lists, charts, and time lines. This charming and wholly relatable book exposes the magic in the mundane and shows how extraordinary an ordinary life can be. —Taylor
Hailed by The Huffington Post as “possibly the most important piece of literature ever printed,” The Disaster Artist is the hilarious, behind-the-scenes story of a deliciously awful cinematic phenomenon as well as the story of an odd and inspiring Hollywood friendship. Greg Sestero, Tommy’s costar, recounts the film’s bizarre journey to infamy, explaining how the movie’s many nonsensical scenes and bits of dialogue came to be and unraveling the mystery of Tommy Wiseau himself. But more than just a riotously funny story about cinematic hubris, “The Disaster Artist is one of the most honest books about friendship I’ve read in years” (Los Angeles Times).
I have avoided this book for years. Every last one of my friends read this book on some iteration of a Fire Island vacation during the summer, and I missed the boat. When we all gathered together for ciders in the pubs this fall, it was all they would talk about, and I was stuck in a corner fending for myself. I vowed then and there never to read this nemesis of a title that had ruined Pumpkin Spice season for me. Then I read Rakesh Satyal’s beautiful review and was re-inspired to get into this book before the world saw the film. I just picked it up from the library and can already see what all the fussy fuss was about. —Stu
It usually takes a couple of reviews to truly get me motivated for a new novel, but the attraction was immediate with A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW. An introspective man of privilege confined to isolation in a luxury hotel is enough to entice me, but place that hotel across the street from the Kremlin, and I’m already reading. —Chris G.
Read with a Moscow Mule
Maybe it’s the copper cup or the alliteration in the name that attracts us to this beverage again and again. And the perfect companion is A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW, set in the beautiful Metropol hotel in Moscow. Amor Towles spins the immersing story of Count Alexander Rostov, who is sentenced to house arrest after being deemed an unrepentant aristocrat.
Kerry’s review of THE BEAUTIFUL CIGAR GIRL convinced me I must read this “mysterious and odd” murder mystery that inspired Edgar Allan Poe to create one of the first fictional stories based on a true crime. It takes place in New York City in the 1800s, always a draw for me, and speaks to both political and social issues of the time. The tragic and unsolved case of “The Beautiful Cigar Girl” led to much-needed change in this city, and I’m eager to read all about it. —Allison