There’s nothing worse than diving into a book that seems really promising (a beautiful cover, an intriguing summary) only to be disappointed when it doesn’t really live up to your expectations. Who wants to waste hours of their time on a book that’s just okay? Luckily, I have the perfect solution to this dilemma: a list of books that are easy to love and won’t leave you disappointed as you reach the final page. Whether you’re looking for some retirement home shenanigans, an alien kidnapping, or maybe a good ol’ fashioned rom-com, this list has something you’re sure to love.
If you’re looking for creative storytelling that’s easy on the eye and stimulates the senses, look no further than Taylor Jenkins Reid’s MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE. One fateful night at an LA bar, our protagonist Hannah Martin is out with her friend and new roommate, Gabby, when the two meet up with Hannah’s old boyfriend Ethan. As a fun night comes to a close, Hannah has a decision to make: head back to the apartment with Gabby or take up Ethan’s offer and catch a ride with him. Little does she know both decisions come with drastically different outcomes, as the reader learns when Reid follows each story line to its own conclusion. Destiny, love, and tough decisions make this book oh so compelling and easy to fall for.
Written under a pen name, this work of fiction is composed in the style of a journal from an unforgettable character named, well, Hendrik Groen. Hendrik is a self-proclaimed “inmate” of an Amsterdam nursing home, where he spends his days almost bored to death. As a means of entertaining readers, but more so to capture his complaints and frustrations with the other residents, Hendrik begins a daily journal. Exploring his own past and misadventures, Hendrik eventually documents the arrival of Eefje, a new resident who triggers a will to live that had long been dormant. The two, along with a group of wily seniors, begin to take life into their own hands, organizing a club to experience all manner of activities that give readers a glimpse at the senior care system and a ton of laughs along the way. Exposing a unique segment of our society, THE SECRET DIARY OF HENDRIK GROEN, 83¼ YEARS OLD is the perfectly lovable companion for any down day.
Is there anything better than a natural storyteller? It’s the reason we pick up books in the first place, and Isabel Allende’s EVA LUNA is the ultimate example of “easy to love.” Eva Luna was conceived in an act of salvation and named Eva “so she will love life.” But, as she soon finds out in a South American country, life can be complex. Without wealth, she uses her vivid imagination and storytelling prowess to make her way, meeting all kinds of characters through a series of improbable and fortuitous coincidences. Street dwellers, madams, and urban guerrillas alike all fall under Eva’s spell and her ability to craft a narrative that feels like modern art, and the reader, luckily, is with her every step of the way. Strange, sensational, and captivating, EVA LUNA is Isabel Allende’s own storytelling master class that readers can’t help but pine for.
“A remarkable novel” (The Washington Post) from New York Times bestselling author Isabel Allende’s introducing her most enchanting creation, Eva Luna: a lover, a writer, a revolutionary, and above all a storyteller.
Eva Luna is the daughter of a professor’s assistant and a snake-bitten gardener—born poor, orphaned at an early age, and working as a servant. Eva is a naturally gifted and imaginative storyteller who meets people from all stations and walks of life. Though she has no wealth, she trades her stories like currency with people who are kind to her. In this novel, she shares the story of her own life and introduces readers to a diverse and eccentric cast of characters including the Lebanese émigré who befriends her and takes her in; her unfortunate godmother, whose brain is addled by rum and who believes in all the Catholic saints and a few of her own invention; a street urchin who grows into a petty criminal and, later, a leader in the guerrilla struggle; a celebrated transsexual entertainer who instructs her in the ways of the adult world; and a young refugee whose flight from postwar Europe will prove crucial to Eva's fate.
As Eva tells her story, Isabel Allende conjures up a whole complex South American nation—the rich, the poor, the simple, and the sophisticated—in a novel replete with character and incident, with drama and comedy and history, with battles and passions, rebellions and reunions, a novel that celebrates the power of imagination to create a better world.
It’s hard not to love a book that features a Brooklyn wedding-planning company, aptly named In Love. Georgia Clark’s IT HAD TO BE YOU follows Liv Goldenhorn after her business partner and husband, Eliot, unexpectedly dies. Perhaps even more unexpected, Eliot leaves his share of the business to his secret mistress, Savannah, who suddenly shows up in Brooklyn looking to make good on Eliot’s will. What starts out as contempt (and confusion) quickly becomes friendship between Liv and Savannah as they seek to overcome impending financial ruin and continue serving their clientele of lovers looking to tie the knot. Packed with characters that could justify their own spinoffs, IT HAD TO BE YOU is a charming novel about surviving tragedy and the power of friendship.
“The book-equivalent of a perfect first date... Highly highly recommend.” —Elin Hilderbrand, #1 New York Times bestselling author of 28 Summers
The author of the “emotional, hilarious, and thought-provoking” (People) novel The Bucket List returns with a witty and heartfelt romantic comedy featuring a wedding planner, her unexpected business partner, and their coworkers in a series of linked love stories—perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Casey McQuiston.
For the past twenty years, Liv and Eliot Goldenhorn have run In Love in New York, Brooklyn’s beloved wedding-planning business. When Eliot dies unexpectedly, he even more unexpectedly leaves half of the business to his younger, blonder girlfriend, Savannah. Liv and Savannah are not a match made in heaven, to say the least. But what starts as a personal and professional nightmare transforms into something even savvy, cynical Liv Goldenhorn couldn’t begin to imagine.
It Had to Be You cleverly unites Liv, Savannah, and couples as diverse and unique as New York City itself, in a joyous Love-Actually-style braided narrative. The result is a smart, modern love story that truly speaks to our times. Second chances, secret romance, and steamy soul mates are front and center in this sexy, tender, and utterly charming rom-com.
A searing and sarcastic debut from Namibian writer Rémy Ngamije, THE ETERNAL AUDIENCE OF ONE is a coming-of-age story for every young person, no matter where they’re from. Twenty-four-year-old law student Séraphin is on his way to his last year of law school in the South African city of Cape Town, but before he can leave and begin his future, he must survive another year with his family and friends in Namibia. Séraphin, a self-assured Rwandan, spends his remaining months of youth with friends, girlfriends, and anyone else looking to have an adventure, despite the drama and consequences that can (and will) follow. Facing explosive fights, never-ending embarrassments, and racial hostilities, Séraphin navigates his present with Ngamije’s cutting commentary all so he can, hopefully, set off for his future. THE ETERNAL AUDIENCE OF ONE comes from a new literary voice that you can’t afford to miss.
“The Eternal Audience of One is laugh-out-loud funny with writing that is sometimes so beautiful that it dances off the page—to a millennial beat—in perfect tempo with its tales of migration, love, loss, and friendship.” —Sarah Ladipo Manyika, author of In Dependence
Reminiscent of Zadie Smith and Michael Chabon, this “gorgeous, wildly funny and, above all, profoundly moving and humane” (Peter Orner, author of Am I Alone Here) coming-of-age tale follows a young man who is forced to flee his homeland of Rwanda during the Civil War and make sense of his reality.
Nobody ever makes it to the start of a story, not even the people in it. The most one can do is make some sort of start and then work toward some kind of ending.
One might as well start with Séraphin: playlist-maker, nerd-jock hybrid, self-appointed merchant of cool, Rwandan, stifled and living in Windhoek, Namibia. Soon he will leave the confines of his family life for the cosmopolitan city of Cape Town, in South Africa, where loyal friends, hormone-saturated parties, adventurous conquests, and race controversies await. More than that, his long-awaited final year in law school promises to deliver a crucial puzzle piece of the Great Plan immigrant: a degree from a prestigious university.
But a year is more than the sum of its parts, and en route to the future, the present must be lived through and even the past must be survived.
From one of Africa’s emerging literary voices comes a lyrical and piquant tale of family, migration, friendship, war, identity, and race following the intersecting lives of Séraphin and a host of eclectic characters from pre- and post-1994 Rwanda, colonial and post-independence Windhoek, Paris and Brussels in the 70s, Nairobi public schools, and the racially charged streets of Cape Town.
New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover never fails to make us fall in love with her books, and NOVEMBER 9 is no different. In this incredible love story, Hoover introduces us to Fallon, an aspiring actress looking to make it big on Broadway, and Ben, an equally-as-aspiring novelist, who happen to meet the day Fallon is making her cross-country move from Los Angeles to New York. Despite her impending departure, the two can’t help but spend the day together in awe of each other, in what becomes Ben’s creative inspiration for his dream novel. While they are forced to live separate lives, the two agree to meet each year on the same date, November 9, in hopes that fate will eventually be in their favor. That is until we find out Ben might not be everything that he claimed . . . Passionate and propulsive, Hoover’s novel is a total page-turner and worthy of your attention.
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If you’re a fan of quirky books with a little bit of every genre, let me introduce you to TJ Klune’s bestselling book, THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA. Meet Linus Baker. He’s a rule-lover and uptight caseworker at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, where he investigates the orphanages charged with housing children of all kinds of fantastical abilities. When he learns his bosses in Extremely Upper Management are assigning him an island orphanage of “especially dangerous” kids to report on, he’s not too thrilled. But it’s there Linus meets Arthur, the master of the orphanage, who is clearly set on providing a loving home for his extraordinary children, no matter the cost. Both a love story and an exploration of finding family, THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA is an endearing novel that is surprisingly charming and all the more lovable because of it.
What happens when a family from a fishing town is faced with despair? Emma Hooper’s OUR HOMESICK SONGS follows the Connor family, one of the last remaining groups in the village of Big Running in Newfoundland. When the fish seem to have disappeared, Aidan and Martha have no choice but to travel to the mainland and alternate working at an energy site to provide for their children, Cora and Finn. Not willing to abandon their home without a fight, the kids do their part to resurrect the town, with Cora turning empty houses into places of escape for herself and her brother while Finn seeks out a plan to lure the fish back to the island (with help from his reclusive accordion instructor). Hooper carries readers on different journeys following each of the Connor family members, ultimately weaving them together for a story of hope and familial bonds. It’s a charming and mystical work of fiction.
When a professor of mathematics cracks a notoriously difficult problem concerning prime number distribution, it is, understandably, a big deal. So big a deal, in fact, that the entire galaxy gets word of the earthling’s breakthrough and some, like the Vonnadorians, are less impressed and more concerned. This is the conceit of Matt Haig’s THE HUMANS, in which Professor Andrew Martin is kidnapped for his work and “replaced” by a Vonnadorian visitor (an alien) in an effort to erase all evidence this ever happened in fear that Earth simply cannot handle such power. But when the extraterrestrial visitor begins to see the beauty of humanity’s flaws, he questions the mission he’s been tasked with. With hilarious descriptions of new-Martin’s sudden love of human offerings (like wine and peanut butter), this novel is a dark comedy that’s all heart. Totally readable and consistently funny, THE HUMANS is a unique take on our species’ loving qualities.
No lovable list is complete without a stellar summer read, and Laura Dave’s HELLO, SUNSHINE hits all the right notes for a novel to bring to the beach. After her fall from grace, Sunshine Mackenzie, the soon-to-be Food Network star who’s been outed as a fraud on Twitter, is forced to go back to her hometown to start fresh, which means getting into the kitchen to finally learn what her YouTube videos have falsely portrayed for years. Despite losing millions of fans, a line of cookbooks, and even a husband, Sunshine remains determined to make a comeback and relies on a newly formed connection with her niece and a real-life friendship to fight her way back into the culinary world. Filled with laughs, love, and redemption, HELLO, SUNSHINE is the final book on our list that will make you believe in second chances.
Best Books of Summer Selection by People, Elle, Redbook, Domino Magazine, US Weekly, PopSugar, PureWow, InStyle.com, WMagazine.com, HarpersBazaar.com, SouthernLiving.com, Arizona Republic, and Tallahassee Democrat
Epicurious Best Foodie Reads Selection
Library Reads Pick
“A clever beach bag must-have” (People) from Laura Dave—the author of the “addictive” (Us Weekly) and critically acclaimed bestseller Eight Hundred Grapes—“a smart, fun read about trying to live an authentic life in the age of social media overload” (PopSugar).
Sunshine Mackenzie has it all…until her secrets come to light. Sunshine is living the dream—she’s a culinary star with millions of fans, a line of #1 bestselling cookbooks, and a devoted husband happy to support her every endeavor. Sunshine Mackenzie has it all…until she gets hacked.
When Sunshine’s secrets are revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. She loses her husband, her show, the fans, and her apartment. She’s forced to return to the childhood home—and the estranged sister—she’s tried hard to forget. But what Sunshine does amid the ashes of her own destruction may well save her life.
“A delightfully addictive page-turner” (WMagazine.com) that takes place in a world where celebrity is a careful construct, Hello, Sunshine is “wickedly funny and gorgeously entertaining…there is no chance you won’t consume this golden summer read in one sitting” (Redbook.com).
Photo credit: iStock / thomas-bethge