Ah, the thematic book list. Nothing makes up leap for a new read like discovering a gem hidden in a historical fiction round-up or psychological thrillers listicle. This year, we even explored new sub-genres like domestic thrillers, historical fantasy and mystery, dysfunctional family dramedies, and even books Stephen King has blurbed. Here are just 10 of our favorite book lists we ran on Off the Shelf this year.
The plot twists. The swoon-worthy language. Witnessing the origins of a literary great. You probably felt these things (and more) upon reading your favorite book for the first time ever. If you could relive such a reading experience, which book would you choose? We recently asked our Facebook audience (that’s you): If you could, what book would you read for the first time again? We were overwhelmed with your replies (and equally inspired come up with our own). From world-shattering books like the Harry Potter series to classics like CATCH-22, your choices were representative of your amazing literary tastes and voracity for cultures, genres, and different perspectives. Here are some of the books you chose.
“Regardless of what genre of literature one prefers, 11/22/63 comes down to this: it is a gripping, harrowing, tragic, and beautiful story about love, memory, evil, and how the best of intentions can go awry... This is King for the faint of heart, for the history buff, for the romantic—for everyone.”
Everyone is a little different when it comes to vacation reading; some of us prefer more serious, emotional stories, and others want to dive into funny, warm-hearted tales of love and friendship. While we can’t promise a plane ticket or a luxury getaway in the sun, these books will make you feel like you’re in another world, whether you’re cozying up in a ski cabin or hitting the beach. There is something for everyone. So, pack your bags, and don’t forget your books! Or your toothbrush.
It is well documented here on Off the Shelf that I am a Stephen King fanatic. Exhibit A, B, and C. I will read anything he writes—and anything he recommends. And he recommends a lot! Just as he is a prolific writer, so too is he a voracious reader. His reading tastes are varied, from mystery to graphic novels to literary fiction to memoir. When he loves a book, he isn’t shy about telling the world and using his influence to help spread the word about great writers. Here are 14 amazing books from Stephen King’s reading list to dive into.
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.
The more thrillers I read, the more I notice the truth about intrusions: the closer to home, the deeper the terror. As an observer, intrigue quickly follows: how might someone change their behavior, confront their fears when routines crumble? The smallest deviation seems to pull events, motives, and reality into question, psychological underwire lacking a tangible source. In a suburban thriller, the likelihood of the community’s having a connection to a victim is more probable, often upping the stakes. Use these seven thrillers to immerse yourself in lives that appear ordinary until they’re not, and let me know if you agree.
Stuck in a book rut? Can’t seem to get through that 500-page brick you cracked open months ago? We’re here to remind you that reading doesn’t have to be a slog. In fact, every book on this list is an undeniable, unimpeachable, unputdownable page-turner. Whether it’s a poignant, unsettling vision of the future or a breathless, literary picture of the past, these books promise to be chock-full of stay-up-all-night plots, must-read insights, and discussion-worthy characters.
Have you binge-watched shows like Killing Eve, Bodyguard, and Broadchurch? The fun doesn’t stop there. Discover a world of international thrillers where a variety of intriguing protagonists solve crimes or bear witness to insurmountable chaos across the globe.
Every history buff has their favorite eras of study. I basically collect novels, nonfiction books, documentaries, and stories of colonial America, but I know there are innumerable fascinating eras that I should learn more about. In this collection of historical fiction novels, I explore brilliant literature that takes place in uncommonly explored time periods. From the Ice Age to biblical times and beyond, these vivid novels will effortlessly transport you across history and open up the world for you.
Fred Rogers famously hosted Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood for 31 seasons. The program, aimed toward children ages two to five, was known for addressing difficult issues in a way that children could understand and for Mister Rogers’ calm demeanor. Rogers decided early in the show that he wanted to be himself, and spent the program talking directly to viewers. Rogers taught the audience about kindness, friendship, and that all of us have value, no matter where we come from or what we’re going through. Luckily for us, the upcoming Tom Hanks film, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, promises to bring Fred Rogers back to our screens. In honor of this exciting and heartwarming movie, we’ve put together a list of books we think Fred Rogers would’ve been proud to have in the neighborhood.
This warmhearted love letter between a granddaughter and her grandmother explores big emotions with wisdom and charm.
No matter how old you are, or where you may be in life, there are always possibilities, second chances, new paths, and old loves to be rediscovered. Below are nine of our favorite books that we think will inspire you to dust off that unfinished manuscript, paint your next masterpiece, reconnect with that friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, but more importantly, to live in the moment.
We wouldn’t be doing our jobs as Off the Shelf recommenders if we didn’t share the books we obsess over long after we’ve turned the last page. For your perusing pleasure, here are a few books we highly recommend you add to your shelf.
Read a Classic by an Author of Color
Set in the 1950s Paris of American expatriates, liaisons, and violence, a young man finds himself caught between desire and conventional morality. With a sharp, probing imagination, James Baldwin’s now-classic narrative delves into the mystery of loving and creates a moving, highly controversial story of death and passion that reveals the unspoken complexities of the human heart.