Have you heard the news? Off the Shelf is 5 years old this month! And while we’re not yet old enough to have wine with our dinner or tall enough to grab a book from the top of our bookshelf—we have gotten pretty good at helping you discover news reads and rediscover old gems. Throughout our five years of reading, recommending, and repeating, one of our favorite ways to talk about the books we love is through thematic book lists. We like our book lists a lot. We did some digging and found out that you like them a lot too! Here are Off the Shelf’s 10 best book lists… Of. All. Time. Did your favorite make the cut?
You blazed through GONE GIRL. You ran out and bought SHARP OBJECTS and DARK PLACES and read them in two sleepless nights. Now your sleepless nights are spent yearning for another Gillian Flynn book . . . and could the days until the GONE GIRL movie comes out be going by ANY SLOWER?! Never fear. These novels will keep you up at night—in a good way—and hold you over until your next Flynn fix.
Ani FaNelli is the epitome of young, modern women. And that’s not a good thing. Image-obsessed, cruel, and deceptive, Ani isn’t crazy so much as extraordinarily damaged from two traumatic high school events that are expertly revealed, piece by piece, in this masterful debut. I loved the anger in this political, well-observed novel, made more powerful by the reveal that Knoll’s own sexual assault contributed to its creation. Contemporary and timely: believe the hype.
Crazy like: Carrie Bradshaw with a cleaver.
Best crazy moment: Ani’s choice of porn. (Ouch.)
So, you’re kind of dreading the trip over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house; but we know that audiobooks are a great way to pass the time! They fill the hours consumed on an otherwise dreary trek and are a wonderful way to share a story with the whole family. These are some of our favorite audiobooks narrated by some pretty amazing people.
This bestseller comes alive in the author's own voice as he narrates a tale about a young man who returns to his native Afghanistan to find it torn apart by war, greed and evil. And yet in the midst of it all is a beautiful story of redemption and love. This is one of those audiobooks we love to hear again and again.
Narrated by Khaled Housseini
President Obama made it clear during his presidency that books are a big part of his life—whether he’s shopping on Small Business Saturday or releasing his vacation reading list. (Plus, he did an impressive interview with author Marilynne Robinson, which you can listen to here. Cross your fingers for a post–White House podcast!) A bestselling author himself, our reader-in-chief has followed his predecessors in recommending some great nonfiction titles, but has surprised us all by being a particularly prolific fiction reader as well. Here are some of the books he’s picked up during his time in office.
Already beloved by millions of readers, this novel follows a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as they both try to survive the devastation of World War II. The breakout hit of 2014, this beautiful novel was a finalist for the National Book Award and it just won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. If you haven't read it yet, this one should be at the top of your spring reading list.
If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then the first line is the window to the book. A first line can drag you in, shock you, confuse you, or touch you. A first line is what makes you read on. Here are some of our favorite first lines that set the tone for some incredible books.
Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Filled with bitter poetry, Beloved is a towering achievement.
My happy place is Twelfth and Broadway, in the stacks of $1 used books outside Strand Bookstore. Hours blur by as I dig through the piles, flipping through the pages of jacketless hardcovers and battered paperbacks. Half treasure hunt, half meditative experience, time spent in a bookstore is never time wasted. So if you’re looking for the perfect place to unload some of your recently acquired holiday cash, pay homage to the bibliophile’s paradise and pick up one of these eleven books set in bookshops.
Monsieur Perdu, a literary apothecary working from a floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, can tell the exact book a reader needs to ease the hardships in their life. But the only broken heart he can’t mend is his own, and he departs on a mission to the south of France hoping to make peace with his lost love.
When we’re going through a hard time, there are a lot of coping mechanisms we can turn to—funny movies, tearjerkers, vodka tonics, beloved songs, chocolate, and of course, books. In that spirit, we at Off the Shelf offer these 12 books for your consideration. They have brought us comfort and solace because of their wisdom and humor, their insights and perspective, their spirit and language. They are books we love and we share them with you in the hopes that should you need it, they might bring you some comfort, too.
“If you like to laugh AND feel moved AND have your heart applaud wildly for fictional characters, you will certainly fall for the grumpy but lovable Ove (it’s pronounced “Oo-vuh,” if you were wondering).”
When I was young, there was nothing more thrilling than pulling a brand-new, yellow-spined Nancy Drew mystery off my shelf. What new adventures would the girl detective encounter with her blue roadster gassed up and her faithful friends Bess and George at her side? I couldn’t wait to dive into her world again, and with every chapter-ending cliffhanger, I’d breathlessly ask to have just one more chapter read to me. If as an adult you are awash with nostalgia for the Nancy Drew series, here are some grown-up female sleuths with continuing series to devour.
When the wildly unpopular Colonel Protheroe is shot to death, the residents of his English village are not exactly devastated—even the vicar declares that his killing did the world a favor. In a town overflowing with suspects, the gentle but sharp Miss Jane Marple steps up to crack the case. In Nancy’s retirement years, I imagine she is something like this beloved sleuth.
What’s the best way to binge on new mind-bending, plot-twisting, unreliably narrated thrillers? Audiobooks of course! Our favorite worlds collide with this list of audiobook thrillers. If you want to immerse yourself in the exciting and terrifying world of a murder mystery, psychological thriller, or true crime, this list of audiobooks is the best place to start.
If you haven’t guessed by now, Reese Witherspoon is the Hollywood authority on good books. Not only is she the star of the film adaption of A WRINKLE IN TIME and the HBO miniseries BIG LITTLE LIES, but she’ll also be producing adaptations of LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE and TRULY MADLY GUILTY. When she’s not producing, acting, designing clothes, and winning in every facet of life, Reese is devouring books and recommending great reads for her RW Book Club. We’ve been able to keep up with her book recs on Instagram and can confirm these books are worth reading. Here are some of our favorite Reese-approved books.
I squealed with joy when I heard that Netflix was making the beloved novel THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL SOCIETY into a movie. Then I watched the trailer and realized many of these cast members also appeared in Downton Abbey. Excited doesn’t begin to cover how I felt! But it also made me yearn for more remarkable stories with spirited heroines, acts of bravery, and ordinary people in extraordinary times. So voila! Here are eight books to read if you love THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY as much as I do.
“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….