For two years in high school, I had a long-suffering crush on a guy named Randy, who only saw me as a brainy, funny friend and not the coquettish sexpot I so desperately wanted to be. We talked on the phone often, exchanged book recommendations, and watched movies together. Meanwhile, I desperately yearned to crawl underneath his arm or for his hand to brush mine and for him to spontaneously decide that OF COURSE he loved me, too.
These short tales pack quite the punch in under 200 pages. Though these books won’t take you much time to read, I’m sure they will stay with you for some time after you finish. If you are trying to read 50 books this year, you’ll get a head start on that goal for certain. These 11 books stay true to the old adages “Good things come in small packages” and “Enjoy the little things in life.”
It’s been more than a year since the release of the tremendously satisfying finale to the Neapolitan Quartet, THE STORY OF THE LOST CHILD, and Elena Ferrante’s name is still on everyone’s lips.
Simply put, the quartet was unlike any writing I’d encountered: an unsparing look at the frenzied, sometimes ugly interior lives of two women and how complicated, yet deep and giving, a love/hate friendship can be. It didn’t shy away, it didn’t beautify, and it propelled you forward with such ferocity that putting down the book felt like hitting the brakes and sitting, dizzied, for however many moments you needed to gather yourself.
Who wouldn’t want more of that? Here’s where to turn when everything else pales in comparison.
After the election, desperate to mute the news that had become the soundtrack of my life, the torment only a reader knows struck. Despite the many books teetering on my to-be-read pile, I couldn’t fall in love with a new book. History teaches the cure lies behind us; thus I searched my shelves, seeking a book out of the limelight but still in my heart.
I opened THE LITTLE GIANT OF ABERDEEN COUNTY with trepidation, praying it would again transport me. Being a dedicated member of the first-line club, I held my breath and read the opening words in the prologue…
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If you ask an Off the Shelf writer “What’s your favorite book?” don’t expect to get a short answer. We have, and will continue to, evangelize about all the books we’re currently in love with until you beg us to stop. But, if you’re into that kinda stuff, we’ll always be here for you.
Here are 10 authors we’re currently crazy about, characters whose honor we will defend until death, and the well-worn books we will forever keep on our shelves—because…you just never know when you will need it, okay?
“I don’t think I’m a food writer any more than I am a love writer or a fish writer or a fowl writer. I just write about life.”
This quote might seem surprising since M. F. K. Fisher is synonymous with food writing. Her 30+ books are largely centered on food, as clearly exhibited in THE ART OF EATING, which has been in print since 1954. This masterful tome contains her five most popular books—SERVE IT FORTH (1937), CONSIDER THE OYSTER (1941), HOW TO COOK A WOLF (1942), THE GASTRONOMICAL ME (1943) and AN ALPHABET FOR GOURMETS (1949). An eclectic mixture of instruction, opinion, and autobiography, her writing is straightforward but beautiful, giving the reader a sense of familiarity with every story told.
Many of our longtime Off the Shelf subscribers have already discovered “Your Shelf” on our website. If you’re new here, you can create your own reading list from books you find on OfftheShelf.com with our “Your Shelf” feature.
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” next to the book cover, and we’ll save your favorites for you.
These are the thirteen “most shelved” books on Off the Shelf so far in 2017.
Over the course of a year, I read about 150 books and keep track of them in a small Shinola notebook. My favorite genre to read is fiction. I love getting lost in a story, getting to know a character, sometimes not even liking that character, and watching the words move across a page. Having owned Bank Square Books for almost 11 years and Savoy Bookshop & Cafe for one, I am inundated with advance reading copies each day, and have my pick of the crop. I love getting a bound manuscript from an editor with a note of love for the book. And I am ghastly afraid of being on an airplane with nothing to read after having finished what I brought.
I bought BAD FEMINIST in a bookstore in Woodstock on November 6, 2016. The lady behind the counter smiled and slipped a “Pussy Grabs BACK!” sticker in the bag with my receipt. I smiled back, as if to say “We got this!” and skipped out of the store clutching the bright pink book across my chest. When I opened BAD FEMINIST on November 9, the day after the election, I dove into Roxane Gay’s writing, wrapping it around me piece by piece like armor.
Whenever I’m asked to name my favorite books, I go into a whirlwind of indecision. Should I list my favorite books written by women? Or make a list of my favorite books in a category—historical novels, adventure, autobiography, crime, mystery, thriller, or food? Maybe the list should be made up of the books on my nightstand, because surely what I have still ahead of me to read will be my absolute favorites. Or maybe it should be books by those writers who influenced me the most when I was growing up or have made me laugh or cry. You see? A whirlwind of indecision. The 13 books on this list are my favorites from a variety of categories, and here’s what they’ve meant to me.