Readers’ Choice: The 10 Best Book Recommendations You’ve Ever Received

November 25 2020

It’s one of our favorite moments as booklovers—when a trusted fellow bookworm friend recommends a book that speaks to us on another level. It makes the read that much more fun when we can imagine discussing certain lines or moments with someone else who feels the same way. With the hope of passing along your recs to even more voracious readers, we took to social media to ask you all: What’s the best book recommendation a friend has ever given you? Here are your—our readers’—excellent choices.

Ask Again, Yes
by Mary Beth Keane

Who doesn’t love a good family saga spanning decades? This one revolves around two families, both with husbands just starting out in the NYPD, who move into the same Brooklyn neighborhood. From there, the story becomes a portrait of human nature in all of its complexity. The wives’ stories twist and turn into territories of loneliness, madness, and hope. The children grow up to discover love and all its consequences. Filled to the brim with honesty, ASK AGAIN, YES weaves these families’ lives together with compassion and care, inviting you into two households that may feel all too familiar by the end.

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Ask Again, Yes
Mary Beth Keane

One of the most beloved novels of the year, the 2019 Tonight Show Summer Reads pick and “magnificent” (NPR) New York Times bestseller offers “profound insights about blame, forgiveness, and abiding love” (People) about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the friendship between their children, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.

Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne, sets the stage for the explosive events to come.

“A beautiful novel, bursting at the seams with empathy” (Elle), Ask Again, Yes is a deeply affecting and “smartly told” (Entertainment Weekly) exploration of the lifelong friendship and love that blossoms between Kate Gleeson and Peter Stanhope, born six months apart. One shocking night their loyalties are divided, and their bond will be tested again and again over the next forty years. Heartbreaking and redemptive, Ask Again, Yes is a gorgeous portrait of a relationship haunted by echoes from the past, yet marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.

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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
by Taylor Jenkins Reid

THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO is quite the immersive trip through the dazzle of old Hollywood and the struggles of the present day through the eyes of two memorable female characters. Unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant is shocked to hear that she has been selected by aging actress Evelyn Hugo to report upon the full story of her life, complete with every glamorous and scandalous detail. As Monique grows closer to the former starlet, she realizes that their lives intersect in tragic and irreversible ways.

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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Taylor Jenkins Reid

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The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell
by Robert Dugoni

Anytime you see a book title promising to tell the story of an extraordinary life, you know it’ll be good. And Sam Hill’s journey certainly lives up to that promise. Having been born with red pupils due to an ocular disorder, he grows up being bullied by classmates who call him “Devil Boy” or Sam “Hell,” and he perseveres through tough times by following his devout mother’s claim that God has a reason for everything that happens. But as Sam ages and looks back on tragic incidents in his life, he begins to see everything for what it truly was and what really made his life “extraordinary.” This is one book you’re going to want to read and recommend just so you can have someone with whom to discuss all the complicated intersections of faith, prejudice, and friendship.

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The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell
Robert Dugoni

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Readers’ Choice: The 10 Best Book Recommendations You’ve Ever Received

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 25, 2020

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This Tender Land
by William Kent Krueger

A sweeping epic set during the Great Depression, perfect for fans of WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING, THIS TENDER LAND tells the story of four orphans who embark on a life-changing adventure along the Mississippi River. After committing a terrible crime, Odie O’Banion is forced to flee from the Lincoln Indian Training School. Odie and his brother, Albert, their best friend, Mose, and a heartbroken girl named Emmy decide to steal away in a canoe for the Mississippi River. Along the way, the group cross paths with others adrift, from faith healers to struggling farmers and lost souls of all kinds.

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This Tender Land
William Kent Krueger

For fans of Before We Were Yours and Where the Crawdads Sing, “a gripping, poignant tale swathed in both mythical and mystical overtones” (Bob Drury, New York Times bestselling author) that follows four orphans on a life-changing odyssey during the Great Depression, from the New York Times bestselling author of Ordinary Grace.

1932, Minnesota—the Lincoln School is a pitiless place where hundreds of Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to an orphan named Odie O’Banion, a lively boy whose exploits earn him the superintendent’s wrath. Forced to flee, he and his brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own.

Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphans will fly into the unknown and cross paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, This Tender Land is an en­thralling, big-hearted epic that is “more than a simple journey; it is a deeply satisfying odyssey, a quest in search of self and home” (Booklist).

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Homegoing
by Yaa Gyasi

HOMEGOING begins with two half sisters, Effia and Esi, in eighteenth-century Ghana. Though they never meet, their lives are forever intertwined in this story as we watch them and their descendants pulled in two different directions throughout hundreds of years. One experiences luxurious captivity of the Cape Coast Castle, while the other lives in squalor in the dungeons below. One thread of descendants encounters warfare and colonization in Africa, and the other is shipped off to slave plantations in the American South. From the Great Migration to the streets of Harlem, the true depth and human impact of events and policy is shown crystal clear in these pages. HOMEGOING will leave you in awe and terror at this insight into America’s soul.

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Homegoing
Yaa Gyasi

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The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
by Kim Michele Richardson

Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s, THE BOOK WOMAN OF TROUBLESOME CREEK is an emotional and atmospheric ode to Appalachia and the power of books. Cussy Mary Carter is Troublesome Creek’s resident librarian, devoted to bringing books to the townsfolk. However, due to her blue skin, Cussy must confront prejudice if she is to succeed in her mission.

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The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
Kim Michele Richardson

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Embers
by Sandor Marai

Originally published in Hungarian in 1942, EMBERS was rediscovered to international acclaim in 2001 and has since become a classic of modern European literature. The book centers upon an old general who is preparing to receive a rare visitor: his former best friend, who he has not seen in forty-one years. As the dinner progresses, it begins to resemble a trial, as accusations and evasions fly across the room. The host and his guest eventually approach the topic of the general’s long-deceased wife and the last time the three of them sat together, after a hunt where a tragic accident occurred.

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Embers
Sandor Marai

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MENTIONED IN:

Readers’ Choice: The 10 Best Book Recommendations You’ve Ever Received

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 25, 2020

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Verity
by Colleen Hoover

VERITY is a romantic thriller that will keep you guessing until the book’s shocking conclusion. When Lowen Ashleigh is approached by Jeremy Crawford, the husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, to complete the remaining books in a series that Verity is no longer able to finish, Lowen jumps at the chance. What Lowen doesn’t expect to find as she does her research is Verity’s unfinished autobiography, a document Verity never intended anyone to read. As Lowen continues to uncover more shocking truths about Verity, including what really happened the day after her daughter died, she debates whether to tell Jeremy the truth.

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Verity
Colleen Hoover

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Just One Damned Thing After Another
by Jodi Taylor

The first book in the Chronicles of St. Mary’s series starts off when the brilliant yet naive Madeleine Maxwell embarks on her new job as historian for the St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research, which she’s surprised to learn is actually a front for a team of time-traveling historians. Their mission is to go back in time to study key moments of history, but they’re not allowed to change anything. As it turns out, being a “historian” is quite the dangerous job, and disasters ensue. Pick this book up for a fun romp through historical events with quirky, thrilling twists along the way.

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Just One Damned Thing After Another
Jodi Taylor

The first book in the USA Today bestselling British madcap time-travelling series, served with a dash of wit that seems to be everyone’s cup of tea.

“History is just one damned thing after another.” —Arnold Toynbee

Behind the seemingly innocuous facade of St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research, a different kind of academic work is taking place. Just don’t call it “time travel”—these historians “investigate major historical events in contemporary time.” And they aren’t your harmless eccentrics either; a more accurate description, as they ricochet around history, might be unintentional disaster-magnets.

The first thing you learn on the job at St. Mary’s is that one wrong move and history will fight back—sometimes in particularly nasty ways. But, as new recruit Madeleine Maxwell soon discovers, it’s not only history they’re often fighting.

The Chronicles of St. Mary’s tells the chaotic adventures of Max and her compatriots—Director Bairstow, Chief Leon Farrell, Mr. Markham, and many more—as they travel through time, saving St. Mary’s (too often by the very seat of their pants) and thwarting time-travelling terrorists, all the while leaving plenty of time for tea.

From eleventh-century London to World War I, from the Cretaceous Period to the destruction of the Great Library at Alexandria, one thing is for sure: wherever the historians at St. Mary’s go, chaos is sure to follow in their wake.

Skyhorse Publishing, under our Night Shade and Talos imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of titles for readers interested in science fiction (space opera, time travel, hard SF, alien invasion, near-future dystopia), fantasy (grimdark, sword and sorcery, contemporary urban fantasy, steampunk, alternative history), and horror (zombies, vampires, and the occult and supernatural), and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller, a national bestseller, or a Hugo or Nebula award-winner, we are committed to publishing quality books from a diverse group of authors.

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Just Mercy
by Bryan Stevenson

Chances are, you’ve seen this book recommended everywhere, and if you haven’t already heeded your fellow readers’ advice, take this as your sign to pick up a copy. Author Bryan Stevenson is a lawyer and founder of the nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative who devotes his life to defending the wrongfully condemned who are facing the death sentence. In this memoir, he highlights heartbreaking stories of communities and individuals as they all struggle to prevail against a broken justice system. The obstacles he encounters are enraging. His stories of innocent lives upended are heartbreaking. And the impact his words and stories will have on your understanding of mercy will be eye-opening.

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Just Mercy
Bryan Stevenson

A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and an unwavering call to fix our broken justice system, from the influential lawyer behind the Equal Justice Initiative.

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