When readers ask me what my favorite books are, I freeze. There are so many wonderful books out there! And my answer is influenced by many things—what I’m reading, what mood I’m in, what my reading needs are (research or pleasure). But there’s a common denominator to the books I love most: the characters seem like real people and they stay with me throughout the years, like old friends. I feel less alone because of some commonality of experience—whether it’s the description of the way the light looks or an emotional situation, I think: Oh, that’s so true; I just didn’t think of it that way before. And I learn from my favorite books. Here are some of them.
A solo thousand mile journey on the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State taken by an inexperienced hiker is a revelation. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.
Read the full review of STATION ELEVEN.
For fans of “The Walking Dead”
While “The Walking Dead” hero Rick Grimes and his gang are keeping hope alive but losing their grip fast after a zombie apocalypse, STATION ELEVEN’s Kirsten Raymonde and her band, the Symphony, have dedicated themselves to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive after a mysterious pandemic has ravaged civilization.
An apocalyptic classic, Stephen King’s novel is a vision of a world ravaged by plague and caught in a bitter struggle between good and evil. When a patient escapes from a biological testing facility, carrying with him a strain of super-flu that destroys a majority of the population, two surviving leaders emerge. Whoever is chosen will lead—and change—humanity forever.
At Off the Shelf, we not only love to write about great books we’ve read, we also love to talk about them endlessly—inside the office and out (where it’s more acceptable to drink wine). We’ve collected these fantastic titles that are perfect for book clubs because they incite thoughtful reflection, introduce readers to worlds they’ve never experienced before, and are beautifully written.
At times stern, at other times patient, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge is one of literature’s most complex characters in recent years. This Pulitzer Prize–winning novel offers profound insights into the human condition—its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.
If your favorite character is Jonathan Byers
The misunderstood, unhappy kid who yearns for an East Coast college where he can forget his modest upbringing and meet sufficiently interesting friends? Sounds like Richard Papen, the narrator of Donna Tartt’s first novel, THE SECRET HISTORY.
There are food memoirs, and then there is KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL. Anthony Bourdain arguably kicked off the celebrity chef phenomenon with this wickedly funny memoir/expose that revealed the “sex, drugs, and bad behavior of haute cuisine.”
Read the full review of THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD.
One of Oprah’s 2016 selections, THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD is a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave’s adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South via the Underground Railroad.
Read the full review of LONESOME DOVE.
A love story, an adventure, and an epic of the frontier, this Pulitzer Prize— winning classic is the grandest novel ever written about the last defiant wilderness of America. Journey to the dusty little Texas town of Lonesome Dove and meet an unforgettable assortment of heroes and outlaws, whores and ladies, Indians and settlers. Richly authentic, beautifully written, always dramatic this is a book to that will make you laugh, weep, and dream.
An evocative portrayal of the opulent desolation of the American suburbs, Revolutionary Road is perhaps literature’s most penetrating portrait of the Mad Men era. The story of a couple who have lived on the assumption that greatness is only just around the corner, Richard Yates demonstrates with heartbreaking compassion and remorseless clarity how Frank and April betray not only each other, but their best selves.
Isadora Wing. Bright, blond, brash, brilliant, a frustrated poet in a sexually unfulfilling marriage who goes to Vienna, meets a man, climbs in his car, and tries to figure out where she’s going and where she's been. Isadora gave birth to a million chick-lit heroines and made an equal number of college girls dream about the adventures they, too, could have.
The Game of Thrones and Harry Potter series are both masterworks of imaginative literature that have been thrillingly translated to the screen, but for my taste, I’ll go with Gone with the Wind. Like the Stark family and the residents of Hogwarts, Scarlett and Rhett are such vivid characters on the page that you can’t imagine them being portrayed adequately on film—until suddenly, there they are, each work only enhancing your enjoyment of the other.