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

Readers’ Choice: The Top 25 Most Shelved Books 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!"

We just keep serving up book recommendations while you find places to put them! For the uninitiated, if you’re running out of space on your physical bookshelves, Off the Shelf has a virtual one for the must-have books you find on our site. And over the course of five years, you’ve taken good advantage of it! Don’t stop—there are even more recommendations in the years to come.

Don’t have an account? Start building “Your Shelf” today! 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.

These are the 25 “most shelved” books on Off the Shelf of all time.


All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr

Beloved by millions of readers, ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE 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 won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. If you haven’t read this one yet, it should be at the top of your spring reading list.

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All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr

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.

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A Man Called Ove
by Fredrik Backman

Ove is a lonely and cranky old man with staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. When an annoyingly friendly couple and their two children move in next door, Ove finds himself with several unexpected new friends, an unkempt cat, and a new outlook on life.

Read the 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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The Light Between Oceans
by M. L. Stedman

When a dead man and a living baby wash up on the shores of a remote island off the coast of Australia, the lighthouse keeper and his wife decide to claim the baby as their own. When they later return to the mainland, though, they learn their choice has had devastating effects.

Read the full review of THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS.

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The Light Between Oceans
M. L. Stedman

“The world is full of decent people making disastrous decisions. I love a book that can find the beauty in that.”

Read Susan Crandall’s review here.

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Fates and Furies
by Lauren Groff

There are two sides to every story, and FATES AND FURIES is perfect for fans of dramatic romances told from alternating perspectives. At the core of this expansive, layered novel is a dazzling examination of a marriage over the course of 24 years.

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Fates and Furies
Lauren Groff

For fans of “The Affair”

There are two sides to every story—and the psychological drama “The Affair” explores that quite creatively. FATES AND FURIES is perfect for fans of dramatic romances told from alternating perspectives. At the core of this expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents a dazzling examination of a marriage over the course of 24 years.

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My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry
by Fredrik Backman

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her eccentric grandmother is Elsa’s best—and only—friend. When she dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa discovers that her greatest adventure is just beginning. This is the heartfelt and humorous second novel from the author of A MAN CALLED OVE.

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My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry
Fredrik Backman

This warmhearted love letter between a granddaughter and her grandmother explores big emotions with wisdom and charm.

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The Kitchen House
by Kathleen Grissom

When a white indentured servant violates the delicate order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the best and worst in everyone tied to the estate. Sweeping from 1790–1810, this is a heartbreaking, but ultimately hopeful story of class, race, and familial bonds.

Read the full review of THE KITCHEN HOUSE.

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The Kitchen House
Kathleen Grissom

When a white indentured servant violates the delicate order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the best and worst in everyone tied to the estate. Sweeping from 1790–1810, this is a heartbreaking, but ultimately hopeful, story of class, race, and familial bonds.

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MENTIONED IN:

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Gone to Soldiers
by Marge Piercy

Sweeping from North Africa to New Zealand and from Palestine to Japan, this epic captures images of deprivation, terror, and excitement during World War II, from the front lines to the home front, through the eyes of ten distinct characters. Each fights their own private and public battles, while their lives intertwine and diverge and the world burns around them.

Read the full review of GONE TO SOLDIERS.

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Gone to Soldiers
Marge Piercy

“More than 750 pages long, GONE TO SOLDIERS can definitely be intimidating, and I knew when I picked up this novel that it would need to be extraordinary in order to hold my attention for a few weeks. Thankfully, I was not disappointed.”

Read Erin Flaaen’s review here.

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In a Dark, Dark Wood
by Ruth Ware

When reclusive writer Leonora is invited to the English countryside for a weekend away, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. But as the first night falls, revelations unfold among friends old and new, an unnerving memory shatters Leonora’s reserve, and a haunting realization creeps in: the party is not alone in the woods.

Read the full review of IN A DARK, DARK WOOD.

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In a Dark, Dark Wood
Ruth Ware

During a weekend away with a friend in an eerie glass house, crime writer Leonora wakes up in a hospital bed injured wondering not “What happened?” but “What have I done?” This one is for fans of GONE GIRL and THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN.

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The Forgotten Garden
by Kate Morton

Sweeping from the poverty-stricken alleys of Edwardian London to the shores of colonial Australia and back, this intricately plotted tale of physical and emotional journeys is a tribute to the power of storytelling.

Read the full review of THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN.

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The Forgotten Garden
Kate Morton

From the #1 internationally bestselling author of The House at Riverton, a novel that takes the reader on an unforgettable journey through generations and across continents as two women try to uncover their family’s secret past.A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book—a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-fi rst birthday, they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and very little to go on, "Nell" sets out to trace her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell’s death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. A spellbinding tale of mystery and self-discovery, The Forgotten Garden will take hold of your imagination and never let go.

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Everyone Brave Is Forgiven
by Chris Cleave

From the beloved author of LITTLE BEE comes this masterful historical novel set in London during the blitz. Inspired by the real-life love letters between Chris Cleave’s grandparents, EVERYONE BRAVE IS FORGIVEN is a moving wartime love story. Against the great theater of world events, it is the small battles and the daily human triumphs that change us the most.

Read the full review of EVERYON BRAVE IS FORGIVEN.

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Everyone Brave Is Forgiven
Chris Cleave

From the beloved author of LITTLE BEE comes this masterful historical novel set in London during the blitz. Inspired by the real-life love letters between Chris Cleave’s grandparents, EVERYONE BRAVE IS FORGIVEN is a moving wartime love story. Against the great theater of world events, it is the small battles and the daily human triumphs that change us the most.

Read a review of EVERYONE BRAVE IS FORGIVEN here.

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Our Souls at Night
by Kent Haruf

Seventy-year-old widow Addie Moore makes a surprising proposal to her neighbor Louis Waters, a seventy-year-old widower. What follows is the engaging story of two isolated people finding solace in each other’s company, falling in love, sharing memories, and reflecting on their lives—their joys, regrets, and fears.

Read the full review of OUR SOULS AT NIGHT.

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Our Souls at Night
Kent Haruf

Seventy-year-old widow Addie Moore makes a surprising proposal to her neighbor Louis Waters, a 70-year-old widower. What follows is the engaging story of two isolated people finding solace in each other’s company, falling in love, sharing memories, and reflecting on their lives—their joys, regrets, fears.

Read our review of OUR SOULS AT NIGHT here.

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Tinkers
by Paul Harding

Paul Harding’s Pulitzer Prize–winning debut novel is a meditation on life, loss, illness, faith, and nature, told through the perspective of a dying old man. As the clock runs down, his memories intertwine with those of his father and grandfather.

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Tinkers
Paul Harding

One of the first books publicly shared by the president after taking office in 2009, Paul Harding’s debut novel is a Pulitzer Prize winner and is a meditation on life, loss, illness, faith, and nature, told through the perspective of a dying old man. As the clock runs down, his memories intertwine with those of his father and grandfather.

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Everything You Want Me to Be
by Mindy Mejia

Full of twists and turns, EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE reconstructs a year in the life of a dangerously mesmerizing young woman, during which a small town’s darkest secrets come to the forefront . . . and she inches closer and closer to her death.

Read the full review of EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE.

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Everything You Want Me to Be
Mindy Mejia

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MENTIONED IN:

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

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Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
by Robin Sloan

Clay lands a job at a mysterious 24-hour bookstore with few customers and almost no book sales. What he discovers about the store and the owner and the world beyond makes this a page-turner of a novel.

Read the full review of MR. PENUMBRA'S 24-HOUR BOOKSTORE.

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Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Robin Sloan

Clay lands a job at a mysterious 24 hour bookstore with few customers and almost no book sales. What he discovers about the store and the owner and the world beyond makes this a page turner of a novel.

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You
by Caroline Kepnes

YOU is a hypnotic tale of obsession, the dangers of social media, and murderous manipulation. When a bookseller encounters a beautiful customer, he tracks her down via her credit card and quickly inserts himself into her life.

Read the full review of YOU.

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You
Caroline Kepnes

Joe doesn’t like artisanal soda, trust fund kids, Dan Brown, Brooklyn hipsters, or Vice magazine. He does, however, like you, ever since you walked into his East Village bookshop looking like Natalie Portman. Shame that Joe is a cold-blooded killer and adept stalker. In the all-too-rare second-person narrative, YOU takes place inside the obsessed brain of Joe Goldberg, who’ll stop at nothing to make boho-wannabe Guinevere Beck (the “you” of Kepnes’s page-turning novel) his.

Crazy like: The lovesick and the just-plain-sick.

Best crazy moment: The DA VINCI CODE reading marathon.

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Middlesex
by Jeffrey Eugenides

This contemporary American epic, which won the Pulitzer Prize, recounts the history of three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family, centering on Calliope, who is intersex and longs to understand why she is not like other girls.

Read the full review of MIDDLESEX.

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Middlesex
Jeffrey Eugenides

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Euphoria
by Lily King

Inspired by events in the life of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead in New Guinea during the 1930s, EUPHORIA is an enthralling story of passion, possession, exploration, and sacrifice from accomplished author Lily King.

Read the full review of EUPHORIA.

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Euphoria
Lily King

The engine that propels this juicy, smart novel is desire—sexual and intellectual, essential and existential.

Read Molly Prentiss’s review here.

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Me Before You
by JoJo Moyes

Will Traynor is an attractive but brooding young man grieving the life he lived before the terrible accident that left him paralyzed. Louisa Clark is the quirky and charming young woman that Will’s parents hire to cheer him up and remind him that life is worth living. You will fall as hard and deeply in love with Will as Louisa does.

Read the full review ME BEFORE YOU and AFTER YOU.

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Me Before You
JoJo Moyes

Will Traynor is an attractive but brooding young man grieving the life he lived before the terrible accident that left him paralyzed. Louisa Clark is the quirky and charming young woman that Will’s parents hire to cheer him up and remind him that life is worth living. You will fall as hard and deeply in love with Will as Louisa does.

Read the review of ME BEFORE YOU and AFTER YOU.

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We Are Not Ourselves
by Matthew Thomas

The promise and tragedy of post-war America is charted in this riveting portrait of an Irish-American family as they chase the American Dream. It is at once expansive and exquisitely detailed, but what readers will remember most is the huge heart at its core. It heralds the arrival of a major new talent in contemporary fiction and is destined to be an American classic.

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We Are Not Ourselves
Matthew Thomas

The promise and tragedy of post-war America is charted in this riveting portrait of an Irish-American family as they chase the American Dream. It is at once expansive and exquisitely detailed, but what readers will remember most is the huge heart at its core. It heralds the arrival of a major new talent in contemporary fiction and is destined to be an American classic.

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A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
by Anthony Marra

In a small rural village in Chechnya, eight-year-old Havaa watches from the woods as Russian soldiers abduct her father in the middle of the night and then set fire to her home. When their lifelong neighbor Akhmed finds Havaa hiding in the forest with a strange blue suitcase, he makes a decision that will forever change their lives. A story of the transcendent power of love in wartime, A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA is a work of sweeping breadth, profound compassion, and lasting significance.

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A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
Anthony Marra

In a small rural village in Chechnya, eight-year-old Havaa watches from the woods as Russian soldiers abduct her father in the middle of the night and then set fire to her home. When their lifelong neighbor Akhmed finds Havaa hiding in the forest with a strange blue suitcase, he makes a decision that will forever change their lives. A story of the transcendent power of love in wartime, A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA is a work of sweeping breadth, profound compassion, and lasting significance.

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MENTIONED IN:

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The Glass Castle
by Jeannette Walls

Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose stubborn nonconformity was both their curse and their salvation. In this astonishing memoir, Walls recounts how her family’s dysfunction left her and her siblings to fend for themselves, weather their parents’ betrayals, and finally find the resources and will to leave home.

Read the full review of THE GLASS CASTLE.

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The Glass Castle
Jeannette Walls

Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose stubborn nonconformity was both their curse and their salvation. In this astonishing memoir—the basis of the forthcoming film starring Brie Larson—Walls recounts how her family’s dysfunction left her and her siblings to fend for themselves, weather their parents’ betrayals, and finally find the resources and will to leave home.

Read a review of THE GLASS CASTLE here.

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MENTIONED IN:

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

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 29, 2019

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By Off the Shelf Staff | March 20, 2017

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By Lauren Fern Watt | March 6, 2017

11 Books That Remind Us There’s No Place Like Home

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 3, 2017

11 Powerful Stories of Addiction and What Comes After

By Hilary Krutt | May 10, 2016

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The Lowland
by Jhumpa Lahiri

THE LOWLAND follows two brothers bound by tragedy, a fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past, a country torn by revolution, and a love that lasts long past death.

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The Lowland
Jhumpa Lahiri

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning, best-selling author of "The Namesake "comes an extraordinary new novel, set in both India and America, that expands the scope and range of one of our most dazzling storytellers: a tale of two brothers bound by tragedy, a fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past, a country torn by revolution, and a love that lasts long past death.

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MENTIONED IN:

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By Off the Shelf Staff | March 29, 2019

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By Taylor Noel | September 4, 2017

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By Off the Shelf Staff | March 31, 2017

The New “O” Book Club: 12 Fiction Picks from President Obama

By Julianna Haubner | January 17, 2017

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By Maria Whelan | October 20, 2014

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The Shadow of the Wind
by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

As Barcelona slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son, finds solace in what he discovers in the “Cemetery of Forgotten Books”: a mysterious book entitled “The Shadow of the Wind,” by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, his seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets—an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.

Read the full review of THE SHADOW IN THE WIND.

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The Shadow of the Wind
Carlos Ruiz Zafón

As Barcelona slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son, finds solace in what he finds in the “Cemetery of Forgotten Books”: a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, his seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets—an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.

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MENTIONED IN:

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By Off the Shelf Staff | March 29, 2019

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By Elizabeth Breeden | March 16, 2017

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By Kerry Fiallo | September 13, 2016

A Boy, a Writer, and a Book That Changes Everything

By Kara O'Rourke | May 23, 2016

11 Delightful Tales Set in Our Favorite Place—Bookstores!

By Emma Volk | December 29, 2015

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Gone with the Wind
by Margaret Mitchell

Widely considered the Great American Novel, GONE WITH THE WIND explores the depth of human passions with an intensity as bold as its setting in the red hills of Georgia. A superb piece of storytelling, it vividly depicts the drama of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Read the full review of GONE WITH THE WIND.

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Gone with the Wind
Margaret Mitchell

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.

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MENTIONED IN:

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By Off the Shelf Staff | March 29, 2019

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By Off the Shelf Staff | September 3, 2018

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By Sarah Woodruff | July 2, 2018

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By Jenna Blum | June 27, 2018

Reading XXL: 15 Extra Long Books Perfect for Extra Long Winter Nights

By Julianna Haubner | January 26, 2016

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The Age of Miracles
by Karen Thompson Walker

The unforgettable 11-year-old girl at the heart of this debut is coming of age against the backdrop of an utterly altered world. With crystalline prose and the indelible magic of a born storyteller, Karen Thompson Walker has crafted a story about people going on with their lives in an era of profound uncertainty.

Read the full review of THE AGE OF MIRACLES.

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The Age of Miracles
Karen Thompson Walker

“THE AGE OF MIRACLES was so frightening because the apocalypse begins as an annoyance, like a lipstick that has melted. Walker’s greatest device is that the end of the world comes incrementally, almost casually, and each turned page winds the reader just a little more tightly.”

Read the full review by Richard Fifield here.

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MENTIONED IN:

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

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 29, 2019

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By Taylor Noel | April 13, 2017

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By Off the Shelf Staff | December 27, 2016

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By Off the Shelf Staff | December 13, 2016

It’s the End of the World as We Know It: 13 Profound Books of Pessimism, Plagues, and Pandemics

By Julianna Haubner | November 1, 2016

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