Share Off the Shelf Turns 5: The Top 10 Reviews of All Time

Off the Shelf Turns 5: The Top 10 Reviews of All Time

We are passionate readers who love nothing more than discovering fantastic books and sharing them with friends. We recommend books that move us to laughter and tears—and everything in between. Trust us when we say, "You've got to read this!"

Our 5th Birthday festivities continue as we take a look back at our favorite reviews of all time! Hear from some of our editorial board members and some of our favorite authors why the books below are near and dear. Take a trip down memory lane with us, won’t you?


Angela's Ashes
by Frank McCourt

“Sometimes books don’t live up to the hype surrounding them; this one did. As with all great writing, ANGELA’S ASHES was as much about the way McCourt told the story as about the story being told. His lyrical, lilting prose and sly humor rounded the edges of a brutal tale and made it so compelling that you actually enjoyed reading about what he’d lived through.”

—Suzanne Donahue

Read Suzanne’s full review of ANGELA’S ASHEs.

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Angela's Ashes
Frank McCourt

"When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood." So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Frank's mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank's father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy -- exasperating, irresponsible and beguiling-- does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story. Frank lives for his father's tales of Cuchulain, who saved Ireland, and of the Angel on the Seventh Step, who brings his mother babies. Perhaps it is story that accounts for Frank's survival. Wearing rags for diapers, begging a pig's head for Christmas dinner and gathering coal from the roadside to light a fire, Frank endures poverty, near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors--yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance and remarkable forgiveness. Angela's Ashes, imbued on every page with Frank McCourt's astounding humor and compassion, is a glorious book that bears all the marks of a classic.

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MENTIONED IN:

14 Books You Wish You Could Read for the First Time Again

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 31, 2019

Off the Shelf Turns 5: The Top 10 Reviews of All Time

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 18, 2019

9 Books We Wish We Could Read Again for the First Time

By Off the Shelf Staff | August 9, 2017

8 Really Great Books We’ve Lied About Reading (Sorry)

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 17, 2017

13 Book Recommendations from the Gilmore Girls Themselves

By Erin Madison | November 22, 2016

A Miserable Childhood, A Transcendent Tale

By Nan Graham | August 19, 2016

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The Never List
by Koethi Zan

“THE NEVER LIST is one of those books that makes you miss your subway stop and keeps you up all night because at the end of every chapter, you convince yourself you have time for just one more.”

—Sarah Jane Abbott

Read Sarah Jane’s full review of THE NEVER LIST.

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The Never List
Koethi Zan

Ten years after accepting a cab ride with grave and everlasting consequences, Sarah is still struggling to resume a normal life. When her abductor is up for parole, she decides to confront her phobias. If you love haunted but determined female protagonists, you'll love Koethi Zan's tale of a kidnap survivor unraveling the mystery of her horrifying past.

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MENTIONED IN:

Readers’ Choice: The Top 10 Most Shelved Books in June

By Off the Shelf Staff | June 28, 2019

8 Psychological Thrillers With Twists You Won’t See Coming

By Off the Shelf Staff | May 28, 2019

Off the Shelf Turns 5: The Top 10 Reviews of All Time

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 18, 2019

An Up-All-Night Thriller That Holds You Captive

By Sarah Jane Abbott | July 17, 2015

Gone Girl Withdrawal: 11 Books to Read If You Love Gillian Flynn

By Off the Shelf Staff | September 2, 2014

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A Man Called Ove
by Fredrik Backman

“Every once in a while, a novel comes along that reinvigorates and inspires and is a call to arms for a publicist. A novel that reminds me that I work hard for books because I love reading. I love new ideas. I love big words. I love discovering and unwrapping characters, the emotions that a wonderful work of fiction can stir in you, the conversations that a good book can inspire. A MAN CALLED OVE by Fredrik Backman is one of those novels for me—a novel that became a passion, a novel that makes the art of publishing feel meaningful.”

—Ariele Stewart

Read Ariele’s full review of A MAN CALLED OVE.

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A Man Called Ove
Fredrik Backman

“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).”

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MENTIONED IN:

8 Touching Books That Will Make You Cry Like a Baby

By Off the Shelf Staff | September 17, 2019

10 Book-to-Screen Adaptations We Can’t Wait For

By Zoey Cole | August 5, 2019

14 Books You Wish You Could Read for the First Time Again

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 31, 2019

6 Fredrik Backman Books to Fit Your Every Mood

By Ariele Stewart | June 3, 2019

12 Perfectly Bodied Book-and-Wine Pairings

By Sarah Jane Abbott | May 23, 2019

Readers’ Choice: The Top 25 Most Shelved Books of All Time

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 29, 2019

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We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
by Karen Joy Fowler

“WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES is one of those completely absorbing books that makes the rest of the world disappear, while at the same time reminding us all too clearly of the world we come from and its occasional cruelty. The novel’s engaging narrator, Rosemary Cooke, begins ‘in the middle,’ as her scientist father used to advise; by that time, she tells us, ‘ten years had passed since I’d last seen my brother, seventeen since my sister disappeared.’”

—Midge Raymond

Read Midge’s full review of WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES.

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We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
Karen Joy Fowler

“WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES is one of those completely absorbing books that makes the rest of the world disappear, while at the same time reminding us all too clearly of the world we come from and its occasional cruelty.”

Read the full review by Midge Raymond here.

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MENTIONED IN:

Readers’ Choice: Our 10 Most Popular Books in August

By Off the Shelf Staff | August 30, 2019

We’re All Completely Obsessed with This Award-Winning Novel

By Mary Doria Russell | August 7, 2019

Off the Shelf Turns 5: The Top 10 Reviews of All Time

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 18, 2019

13 of Off the Shelf’s Favorite Book Recommendations from 2016

By Off the Shelf Staff | December 27, 2016

13 Most Shelved Books on Off the Shelf in 2016

By Off the Shelf Staff | December 13, 2016

The Beautiful, Haunting Story of an Unconventional Family

By Midge Raymond | February 1, 2016

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Glaciers
by Alexis Smith

“GLACIERS has all the things I love about reading: an engaging story, beautiful writing, and memorable characters. Isabel’s story broke the reading slump I was in because it’s different from all the other books out there in one particular way: it’s wholly unique, a hidden gem.”

—Nicholas Elliot

Read Nicholas’s full review of GLACIERS.

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Glaciers
Alexis Smith

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MENTIONED IN:

Off the Shelf Turns 5: The Top 10 Reviews of All Time

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 18, 2019

Books Are the Best Medicine: 12 Tips to Get You Through a Sick Day

By Sarah Jane Abbott | April 25, 2018

Our Gift to You: 13 of Off the Shelf’s Favorite Book Recommendations

By Off the Shelf Staff | December 25, 2017

The Little List: 11 Short Books with Big Stories

By Aimee Boyer | April 7, 2017

13 Most Shelved Books on Off the Shelf in 2016

By Off the Shelf Staff | December 13, 2016

The Quiet Book That Ended My Reading Rut

By Nicholas Elliot | September 5, 2016

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Sing, Unburied, Sing
by Jesmyn Ward

“SING, UNBURIED, SING deftly examines the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power—and limitations—of family bonds. Few writers possess Jesmyn Ward’s artfulness, and fewer still write about topics more relevant—justice and injustice, poverty, incarceration, racial profiling, family, drug abuse, faith, the limits and the limitlessness of love. Her incredibly skillful writing makes these topics digestible.”

—Taylor Noel

Read Taylor’s full review of SING, UNBURIED, SING.

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Sing, Unburied, Sing
Jesmyn Ward

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MENTIONED IN:

8 Prize-winning Books to Read During Book Awards Season

By Off the Shelf Staff | October 29, 2019

8 Touching Books That Will Make You Cry Like a Baby

By Off the Shelf Staff | September 17, 2019

Tell About the South: 11 Southern Gothic Tales You Need to Read

By Kerry Fiallo | May 14, 2019

9 Enchanting Books for Readers of Magical Realism

By Sarah Jane Abbott | May 2, 2019

Off the Shelf Turns 5: The Top 10 Reviews of All Time

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 18, 2019

Books We Like to Give: 9 Books We’re Sharing with the Readers In Our Lives

By Off the Shelf Staff | December 4, 2018

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Descent
by Tim Johnston

“Every few years, there’s one book I latch onto that I keep recommending to people, over and over. And for the last year, that book has been DESCENT by Tim Johnston. I love character-driven thrillers, and this book was geared perfectly for me. But—more than the type of book—there’s something more, something that lingers, that keeps me coming back to it.”

—Megan Miranda

Read Megan’s full review of DESCENT.

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Descent
Tim Johnston

The Courtland family is taking one last vacation in the Rocky Mountains before their daughter leaves for college. But when Caitlin and her younger brother, Sean, go out for an early morning run and only Sean returns, the mountains become as terrifying as they are majestic.

Read our review of DESCENT here.

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MENTIONED IN:

8 Nail-biting Vacation Mysteries That Will Keep You On The Edge of Your Beach Chair

By Zoey Cole | June 12, 2019

Off the Shelf Turns 5: The Top 10 Reviews of All Time

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 18, 2019

Readers’ Choice: The Top 25 Shelved Books of 2017

By Off the Shelf Staff | December 29, 2017

The 10 Most Popular Reviews on Off the Shelf in 2017

By Off the Shelf Staff | December 18, 2017

15 Books to Read Around the Campfire

By Christine Carbo | June 19, 2017

Readers’ Choice: The 13 Best Books on Off the Shelf in 2017 (So Far)

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 31, 2017

Close

The Cuckoo's Calling
by Robert Galbraith

“If you take the character development that J. K. Rowling is known for in her classic children’s series and mix it with the dark inner recesses of a private criminal investigator in modern-day London, you’ll get some pretty disturbing but unputdownable reads. It’s as if Rowling saved up all of those notes that she filed under maybe-too-dark-for-a-children’s-story, and turned them into an adult crime series.”

—Stu Smith

Read Stu’s full review of the Cormoran Strike series.

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The Cuckoo's Calling
Robert Galbraith

After Harry Potter, many wondered if J. K. Rowling would write again. Few expected her to adopt a pseudonym and successfully turn toward crime fiction. THE CUCKOO’S CALLING is the story of a struggling private investigator as he handles the case of a lifetime: the mysterious death of a supermodel.

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MENTIONED IN:

Off the Shelf Turns 5: The Top 10 Reviews of All Time

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 18, 2019

An Unputdownable Series to Read in the Last Days of Summer

By Stu Smith | August 23, 2017

Who Wrote That?: 12 Books Written Under Pen Names

By Kerry Fiallo | October 6, 2016

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The Light We Lost
by Jill Santopolo

“The power of THE LIGHT WE LOST, I think, comes from its simplicity. It’s a story that is, or could be, everyone’s. Yet what it reveals is exceptional and profound. As I was reading, I was consistently reminded of the famous John Lennon quote: ‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.’”

—Carola Lovering

Read Carola’s full review of THE LIGHT WE LOST.

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The Light We Lost
Jill Santopolo

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MENTIONED IN:

Off the Shelf Turns 5: The Top 10 Reviews of All Time

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 18, 2019

The Best of 2018: The Top 10 Reviews of the Year

By Off the Shelf Staff | December 27, 2018

The Unforgettable Novel I Recommend to Everyone

By Carola Lovering | June 28, 2018

13 Feel-Good Novels You’re Going to Love

By Taylor Noel | May 3, 2018

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I'm Thinking of Ending Things
by Iain Reid

“It’s hard to talk more about I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS without spoiling it. But once you’ve read it, it’s impossible to talk about anything else. I keep thinking about that description of ‘philosophical thriller’ and how apt it is. The mastery of I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS lies within its ability to showcase the most primal and resounding terror of being human and the innermost depths of the mind. Reid brilliantly executed the innate thriller inside of the challenges of defining our identity and a true sense of self, whatever that may mean.”

—Nikki Barnhart

Read Nikki’s full review of I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS.

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I'm Thinking of Ending Things
Iain Reid

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MENTIONED IN:

10 Books I Will Never Forget

By Amy Cardoza | December 4, 2019

10 Book-to-Screen Adaptations We Can’t Wait For

By Zoey Cole | August 5, 2019

8 Psychological Thrillers With Twists You Won’t See Coming

By Off the Shelf Staff | May 28, 2019

Off the Shelf Turns 5: The Top 10 Reviews of All Time

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 18, 2019

The Best of 2018: The Top 10 Reviews of the Year

By Off the Shelf Staff | December 27, 2018

5 Books You Can Read in One Sitting

By Stu Smith | May 28, 2018

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